FORT WORTH, Texas, June 7, 2001 -- Fresh from a pole-winning performance at the Indianapolis 500, Kelley Racing swept the front row tonight in qualifying for Saturday's Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. This time it was Mark Dismore who...
FORT WORTH, Texas, June 7, 2001 -- Fresh from a pole-winning performance at the Indianapolis 500, Kelley Racing swept the front row tonight in qualifying for Saturday's Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. This time it was Mark Dismore who put Kelley's Oldsmobile Dallara on the pole with a 215.508 mph lap around the high-banked 1.5-mile oval. His teammate Scott Sharp ran 215.065 mph to claim the outside front row starting spot.
Dismore will start on the pole for the fourth time in his IRL career and the second time at Texas Motor Speedway. An Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 is on the pole for the 43rd consecutive IRL event.
The two Delphi Automotive Systems drivers drew consecutive spots in the qualifying order. Sharp sat on the pole for just minutes before he was bumped by Dismore -- who promptly credited his teammate for providing a vital piece of information after rain had shortened practice to a single 30-minute session.
"I learned something on the gear ratio from Scott's run," said Dismore. "He was able to pull one of the gears in our selection, so I knew what gear I could go to. Before qualifying we changed gears, we changed an engine, we changed the shock absorbers. We were guessing, and we made the best guess."
Sharp was also surprised by his qualifying speed. "We made some major changes to the chassis before we went out," he said. "We didn't really know what it would be like after we lost the second practice session. I went to the next higher gear and I wasn't sure if that was the right thing to do, but I just tickled the rev limiter going into the first turn."
Twenty-one of the 23 qualifiers for the Casino Magic 500 are using Oldsmobile engines. Points leader Sam Hornish Jr. was fourth fastest in Panther Racing's Oldsmobile Dallara at 213.255 mph and Shigeaki Hattori was fifth fastest at 213.119 mph in Vertex-Cunningham Racing's Oldsmobile Dallara.
"Our problem was that we weren't close enough to the rev limiter," said Hornish. "We were down a little on rpm. Everything will even out in the race."
Donnie Beechler is sixth on the grid in his second outing with A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile Dallara. "The car felt better in qualifying than it did in practice," Beechler reported. "A.J. has his own formula for making a car go around the track, and it works for me. We were trying to adjust the gears, and it really got wound up on the second lap. We were fortunate that (teammate Eliseo) Salazar was the first driver out in qualifying; he was the guinea pig and we learned that he was on the limiter in fourth gear. I ran fifth gear, and that made the difference."
Last year's Casino Magic 500 is regarded by many as one of the best races in open-wheel history. Less than a second separates the 22 fastest qualifiers for this event, setting the stage for another classic race.
"Tomorrow we've got to put some downforce in the car and make sure we can run in the high groove," said Dismore. "The track is bumpy and challenging, especially if you have guys up in front of you breaking up the air. Then it gets tricky."