IRL: Homestead: Chevy Racing qualifying report

Hornish puts new Chevy Indy V8 third on Homestead grid. HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 1, 2003 - Chevrolet's new 2003 Chevy Indy V8 powered reigning IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. to the third fastest speed in qualifying today at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hornish puts new Chevy Indy V8 third on Homestead grid.

HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 1, 2003 - Chevrolet's new 2003 Chevy Indy V8 powered reigning IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. to the third fastest speed in qualifying today at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hornish will start Sunday's Indy 300 from the inside of the second row after qualifying Pennzoil Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara at 202.982 mph. Hornish's speed eclipsed the 202.884 mph track record he set last year en route to a runaway victory. His time was bettered only by Honda teammates Tony Kanaan, who won the pole at 203.560 mph, and Michael Andretti, second fastest at 203.014 mph. Hornish's Chevy qualified ahead of the 10 Toyotas in the 21-car field.

"This morning was the first time we put a qualifying setup on the car," Hornish reported. "The car was loose in practice, so we put a little more downforce on it and lost some speed in qualifying.

"Chevrolet gives us something more every time we go out there," he continued. "They've been working hard to get us where we need to be. I wasn't worried about the Chevy engine. When we started off last year a lot of people said we weren't going to be able to keep up, but Chevrolet won 14 out of 15 races. I know they're going to do what it takes to keep us at the front. Chevrolet and Dallara have really done their homework and it continues to show. We know we have a very reliable engine in the Chevrolet, and each time we go out they give us more horsepower. That makes me confident for the future."

Six of the 21 qualifiers used the new 3.5-liter Chevy Indy V8. Sarah Fisher was the second quickest Chevy-powered entry at 198.338 mph, placing her Dreyer & Reinbold Racing WeGotGear Dallara 13th on the grid.

"I'm the second fastest Chevrolet driver, but I'm still disappointed," said Sarah. "Chevy races to win, and we're not going to forget that. We believe in them and trust them 100 percent, and they're making steady improvement. I'm a perfectionist; I'm a perfectionist about my uniform, about the people who work for me and about my car. Today it wasn't perfect.

"It was pushing real bad coming off of Turn 4, so I said let's get it as close to the wall as we can and get as much out it as we could. We didn't take an aggressive enough approach to qualifying. At least we know what's wrong, and we needed just a little more."

Hornish's strong qualifying performance showed the potential of the latest Chevy racing engine, the second new powerplant designed and developed in-house by GM Racing in two years.

"We are very pleased with the Chevy Indy V8's qualifying performance today," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL Program Manager. "It's rewarding to see a Chevrolet engine third on the grid, right in the mix with the other manufacturers. There was speculation before this event about the competitiveness of Chevrolet engines, but today's result demonstrates that we will be competitive.

"The Panther Racing team clearly has a handle on this track and will be a contender to win the race," Negri noted. "The Chevy engines have performed well so far, and most of the Chevrolet teams have focused on their race setups. I think you will see them run much stronger in the race."

Chevy Driver Quotes:

BUDDY RICE, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara, qualified 16th at 196.011 mph:

"The conditions were tough with the temperature and the wind. Turns 3 and 4 are tricky with this tailwind. We have been concentrating a lot on our full-tank setups and we have a solid race car for tomorrow. We tried some things with our qualifying setup this morning and had some problems. Right now we are climbing a steep learning curve. We know that we have a good solid race car for tomorrow and we are going to continue to work on that. We've got good tire life and we've got good reliability with the Chevy engines. The big deal is tomorrow and we want to make sure that Red Bull Cheever Racing, Dallara and Chevy are at the front at the end of tomorrow's race."

JAQUES LAZIER, Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara, qualified 18th at 195.063 mph:

"It's been a long battle to get here, and just to be here is the culmination of a lot of work. We had a huge push this morning and made some changes trying to get the car better, but we went too far. Every lap I was chasing my tail all the way around the track. I had some huge corrections in Turn 3 and 4. We're not happy with our qualifying, but we can take the knowledge and apply it to our race setup. That's the one that matters. I think we have the right package with Dallara and Chevy."

ROBBIE BUHL, Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet Dallara, qualified 19th at 194.068:

"That's as slow as we've run on new tires, so it's frustrating. The race is what we've been focusing on so we'll have a better race car. This track is always difficult with the conditions changing."

The Indy 300 will start at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, March 2. The 300-mile, 200-lap race will be televised live on ABC and broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing