IRL: Homestead Miami qualifying report

David Reininger - motorsport.com Homestead, Fla. (April 7, 2001) - Jeff Ward earned his second career Indy Racing Northern Light Series pole position stopping Greg Ray's streak of poles at two. While Ray's streak ends, Team Menard's streak ...

David Reininger - motorsport.com

Homestead, Fla. (April 7, 2001) - Jeff Ward earned his second career Indy Racing Northern Light Series pole position stopping Greg Ray's streak of poles at two. While Ray's streak ends, Team Menard's streak continues. The engine in Ward's Heritage Motorsports G Force is prepared in Menard's Indianapolis shop. The pole also marked the 40th consecutive pole position for Oldsmobile engines.

"John Menard has given this team an opportunity to win the Indy 500," said Ward's crew chief Mitch Davis. "We have Jeff, we have this team and we have G Force. But we've always been short. Now we have the whole combination with John Menard putting a motor under us that can win the race."

Heritage Motorsports tested at Homestead Miami Speedway during the Northern Light Series open test but has since changed all the suspension on the car. "We have all the new speedway stuff on our car," Davis said. "When we unloaded here, it wasn't real good, it had a lot of push."

"Last night we went back to our notes. Our team has notes that go back several years on the G Force. We lowered the rear, lowered the front and gained some aero grip. He (Ward) goes out there and the first lap by is at 199 mph. We put our race motor in last night, trimmed it out and he didn't tip toe around. He went 190 yesterday and 199 today."

Ward, who posted a speed of 201.551 mph, was the only driver to crack the 200mph barrier in qualifying.

Greg Ray will start second, his fifth front row start in the last six races. After sitting atop the speed charts yesterday, Ray made changes to his car in hopes of earning his third consecutive pole. The changes made the car worse. "At the end of the day I knew for sure that we didn't hit the bull's eye in the center," said Ray. We left a little bit on the table."

After recording a lap at 199.432 mph, Buddy Lazier will start third, driving the Tae-Bo Coors Light Hemelgarn Racing Dallara. "We slowed down a bit since practice," said Lazier, "but I'm not sure why. The car was awesome, and the balance seemed great. Plus I was wide open."

"I'm happy with the whole day," said Lazier, after improving nearly five miles per hour over yesterday's practice time. "We always have a good car come race day. We've never raced here so we're making a lot of educated guesses.. But we're pretty good at that, so we're looking all right."

The fastest rookie in the field will start fourth. Felipe Giaffone, fresh from a sixth place finish at Phoenix, posted a speed of 199.211, putting a pair of Dallaras and a pair of G force chassis on the first two rows.

"We've never gone that kind of speed here before," said Giaffone, who has raced here three times in Indy Lights. "The best I've done is 197. My main concern right now is to finish the race tomorrow. The biggest race that I ever ran before Phoenix was a 100-mile race. So tomorrow we are really going to concentrate on pit stops and getting the mileage right."

Sam Hornish Jr., who won the first Indy racing event at Phoenix, will start fifth. After earning the pole and taking the victory at Phoenix, Hornish was expecting a better starting position for tomorrow's race.

"We're not happy, but we're not disappointed," said Hornish. We're just really excited with our race setup, and we're ready to go tomorrow. I just can't wait to get out there tomorrow because I think we'll be running up front all day."

The Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami presented by 123.com Americatel takes the green flag for 300 miles of racing at 2:00 p.m. EDT. Live television coverage will be provided by ABC-TV.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Sam Hornish Jr.