Chevy takes top five in IRL qualifying. MADISON, Ill., Aug. 24, 2002 -- Chevrolet engines swept the top five spots in qualifying for Sunday's Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Gil de...
Chevy takes top five in IRL qualifying.
MADISON, Ill., Aug. 24, 2002 -- Chevrolet engines swept the top five spots in qualifying for Sunday's Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Gil de Ferran put Penske Racing's Chevrolet Dallara on the pole for the fourth time this season with a fast lap of 175.120 mph. Points leader Sam Hornish Jr. will start alongside de Ferran with a 174.959 mph qualifying speed in Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. Chevrolet drivers Helio Castroneves, Vitor Meira and Jeff Ward completed the Chevy Indy V8 sweep.
A Chevrolet engine won the pole for the seventh time this season. De Ferran set the track record for IRL cars as qualifying was rained out last year in the series' inaugural event at GIR. He has earned all of his IRL poles on short tracks: Gateway's 1.25-mile oval, the 1-mile Nazareth and Pikes Peak speedways, and the .75-mile Richmond bullring.
"We're back to what I call a handling track, and getting the car sorted out on both ends is not an easy thing," said de Ferran. "It's a big challenge at this track. My car was very good through turns 1 and 2, and that helped to put the boot down and get some good speed in the back straight. It's really hard to get it just right.
"We were fighting understeer this morning," he reported. "We kept massaging it and massaging it. We just made a final change for qualifying and the car was very good. I was happy for about 30 seconds, and then I was already thinking about tomorrow."
Hornish will make his third front-row start of the season in the 200-lap race, but he was aiming higher.
"I'm a little disappointed with the qualifying run -- we had more," said Hornish. "We set up for the wrong number of laps, and actually I slowed down the first lap to save the tires. Chevy gave us great horsepower and everything is coming together. It's a tough racetrack because you can't set up for one end or the other and get away with it. You've got to be on it at both ends."
Helio Castroneves trails Hornish by four points in the championship race, and he will start behind Hornish from the third spot on the grid in Penske Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. Like Hornish, Castroneves believed he had a shot at the pole.
"It's tough when you work really hard and some little thing happens," he said. "The car is not bad, but you always want to be first.
"We had a fantastic Turn 1 and Turn 2, a tenth and a half quicker than this morning," Castroneves noted. "I was surprised losing so much speed coming through Turn 3 and 4, that was so disappointing. We just have to be smart tomorrow."
Rookie Vitor Meira is the third Brazilian in the top four on the starting grid. He qualified Team Menard's Chevrolet Dallara alongside Castroneves in the second row in only his second IRL race.
"The amount of work this team puts in is tremendous," said Meira. "This only reflects work. Everyone has the same capability, and Team Menard has done a great job for me to be here. The first corner you have to lift, so it's different from my first race at Kentucky. So far it's good.
Fresh from a victory at the preceding race at Kentucky Speedway, Felipe Giaffone will start Mo Nunn Racing's Chevrolet G Force from the seventh spot.
"We didn't have a lot of time to practice our qualifying setup and I think we should be better for the race," Giaffone said. "The time that I did was what I was expecting; we never ran quicker than that. It's not the best place to start, but it's going to be better tomorrow."
The Gateway Indy 250 will start at 3 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. local time) on Sunday, Aug. 25. The 250-mile, 200-lap race will be televised live on ESPN and broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network.