IRL: Homestead: Chevy qualifying report

Chevy powers Barron to Front-Row Start in IRL Season-Opener Chevrolet Makes Fast Start in 2004 with Five Chevy Indy V-8s Qualified in Top 11 HOMESTEAD, Fla., Feb. 28, 2004 - Chevrolet claimed two of the top three starting spots in qualifying for...

Chevy powers Barron to Front-Row Start in IRL Season-Opener
Chevrolet Makes Fast Start in 2004 with Five Chevy Indy V-8s Qualified in Top 11

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Feb. 28, 2004 - Chevrolet claimed two of the top three starting spots in qualifying for Sunday's Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Alex Barron was the fastest driver in the Bowtie brigade with a 216.904 mph lap on the 1.5-mile banked oval, putting Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara on the outside of the front row. Tomas Scheckter was a heartbeat behind at 216.673 mph in Pennzoil Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara and will start on the inside of the second row.

"The track was 45 degrees hotter when we qualified than it was in this morning's session, so we were surprised with the speed," said Barron, who was nipped for the pole by.484 mph by Honda driver Buddy Rice. "Usually you slow down when the track gets hotter. The motor ran great; our Chevrolet engine is very powerful. The team has been working tremendously hard in the off-season. We've also been working a lot with Chevrolet, and Chevy has pushed forward in the last several months. I think it really showed today in qualifying."

Chevy Indy V-8 engines powered five of the top 11 qualifiers at the reconfigured Homestead circuit. Rookie Mark Taylor was sixth in the Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara at 216.432 mph and rookie Ed Carpenter put Red Bull Cheever Racing's second entry ninth on the grid at 215.924 mph. Robbie Buhl, the second driver out in the qualifying session, is the 11th qualifier in the 19-car field.

Barron will start on the pole for the first time in his career. It's the 12th pole for Chevrolet in IRL competition.

"The engineering staff, mechanics and Chevrolet especially have made big gains," Barron reported. "This series is very competitive, and our team has got a good handle on the car. I thought we had a real good shot at the pole, but Buddy jumped up at the end and surprised us. To start on the front row, we're happy with that."

Tomas Scheckter made a strong debut with Pennzoil Panther Racing, his first qualifying run with Chevrolet power.

"The team has done a good job and Chevy has done a good job on the engine," said Scheckter. "Everything seems to be working well together. It's a completely different track from last year, and the team has got the car set up very well. We have a good race car, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We're happy with what we've got."

Rookie Mark Taylor performed like a seasoned veteran in his first qualifying run in an IRL car. Taylor briefly sat on the pole with the Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara.

"Everyone is getting on and we seem to be gelling well, so I'm relaxed," said Taylor. "We gained confidence in the car this morning in practice and were able to keep it going this afternoon. Chevy power behind us put us in the hunt. We were a little on the safe side because this was my first qualifying run in an IndyCar and the most important part is the race tomorrow."

The season-opening Indy 300 will get the green flag at 2:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 29. The 200-lap, 300-mile race will be televised live on ESPN and broadcast on the IMS Radio Network.

CHEVY DRIVER QUOTES:

ED CARPENTER, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara, qualified ninth at 215.924 mph:
"I really thought we had a top-five car. It handles great, and we've had a good car all weekend. I thought we had more speed for qualifying, but I'm really happy with the package we have at Red Bull Cheever Racing."

ROBBIE BUHL, Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet Dallara, qualified 11th at 215.924 mph:
"With the wind, we weren't sure of the gearing. Race day is what matters for us. We've been working hard in the off-season along with Chevrolet. It's become so competitive out here that race day is not just about a fast race car; you have to do everything right to be at the top. We've focused on this."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Robbie Buhl , Alex Barron , Buddy Rice , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing