IRL: De Ferran earns fourth pole at Gateway

MADISON, ILL (August 24, 2002) - Gil de Ferran set the pace all day at Gateway International Raceway, setting the fastest lap in both practice sessions and winning the pole for tomorrow's race. De Ferran earned his fourth pole of the season after...

MADISON, ILL (August 24, 2002) - Gil de Ferran set the pace all day at Gateway International Raceway, setting the fastest lap in both practice sessions and winning the pole for tomorrow's race. De Ferran earned his fourth pole of the season after turning the fastest lap of the day at 175.120 mph.

Sam Hornish, who will start second with a lap at 174.959 mph, held onto to the pole for 17 minutes despite the best efforts of de Ferran's teammate Helio Castroneves.

On his first qualifying lap, Castroneves managed to come within 0.1446 seconds of Hornish's qualifying time. Anticipating a faster second lap, all eyes were on Castroneves as he pushed the Marlboro Team Penske car towards the finish line, holding his foot to the floor.

The timer stopped 0.0029 seconds shy of knocking Hornish from the pole.

Hornish didn't have time to breathe a sigh of relief as de Ferran sat next in the qualifying line.

De Ferran's first lap was good enough for pole, and his second upped the ante, stopping the clocks at 25.6967 seconds.

Hornish wished the Penske team ran one car, saying "It's like you're always in the middle. You beat one, you get beat by the other one, it's tough."

In the four short track races this season, Hornish has won two, at Homestead and Richmond, while the Penske duo has won one apiece, Castroneves at Phoenix and de Ferran at Pikes Peak. Hornish said he feels like he's matched against a tag team.

"It's kind of tough to go into those races and figure out what the best way is to beat them. I'll get in the middle of them, then I'll try to make a move on the leader, then the other one gets back by me, and then I have to start all over again."

Although the Indy Racing League is known for it's close wheel-to-wheel racing, the short tracks don't provide the necessary room for side-by-side duels. Tomorrow's race will rely heavily on having good track position.

"It's very important, I think, at this type of track to start up front," said de Ferran, who earned $10,000 for his efforts.

"It's nice to be back at these handling tracks, which we have done so well at this year. We had a pretty important test here last week, and that really set everything up for this weekend."

Starting alongside Castroneves will be rookie driver Vitor Meira driving the Team Menard entry. Row three is comprised of veteran driver Jeff Ward and rookie, Laurent Redon of St. Chamond, France.

The Gateway Indy 250 will be televised live on ESPN at 3:00 p.m. EDT.

Notes from the Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway:

Tomas Scheckter has been removed from the entry list. Scheckter missed a Cheever Racing technical briefing on Friday, prompting the team make an inquiry regarding his whereabouts. When reached by phone, Scheckter informed the team that he would not be participating this weekend. In a story by Curt Cavin in the Indianapolis Star, Scheckter cited "safety reasons" for leaving the team, but did not elaborate.

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Eddie Cheever Jr. will drive wearing an all black helmet this weekend in memory of his father, Ed Cheever, who passed away in Rome on August 15, 2002. Cheever and his father designed his customary red, white and blue paint scheme when the younger Cheever first started racing.

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Sixteen of the 25 drivers entered in Sunday's race have won an Indy Racing League event. Of the nine drivers who have yet to win, seven are in their rookie season.

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The Academy of Country Music's reigning Female Vocalist of the Year, Martina McBride will perform in concert immediately following the Sunday's race. The stage for Sunday's concert is located on the drag strip behind the main grandstand.

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Sam Hornish Jr. was presented with a Maurice Lacroix watch in recognition of winning first quarter Driver of the Year Award.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Jeff Ward , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Laurent Redon , Sam Hornish Jr. , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske