CARPENTIER TO START NEAR THE REAR OF GRID Homestead, Florida, Saturday, March 5, 2005 - Things did not improve overnight at Cheever Racing with both its drivers faring poorly in the lone qualifying session held Saturday at Homestead-Miami ...
CARPENTIER TO START NEAR THE REAR OF GRID
Homestead, Florida, Saturday, March 5, 2005 - Things did not improve overnight at Cheever Racing with both its drivers faring poorly in the lone qualifying session held Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Canadian driver Patrick Carpentier qualified his Dallara-Toyota 19th overall, while his teammate Alex Barron put his car 17th on the grid for Sunday's Toyota Indy 300 race. At last year's event Barron started second. Carpentier posted the quickest of his two flying laps during his first attempt, stopping the clock at 25.6194 seconds for an average speed of 335.821 km/h. His quickest lap was almost seven tenths of a second slower than polesitter Tomas Scheckter of South Africa. It was the sixth pole of Scheckter's career, but his first since he won the pole at Michigan International Speedway in 2003.
''I'm flat out all around the track and the car does not want to go any faster,'' said Carpentier, who is making his Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series debut this weekend. ''The team changed the gears in the transmission, but it did not improve the speed. The engine does not seem to be giving out all the power it is supposed to, even though I'm not lifting in the corners. It's very frustrating. We have another half-hour test session later on Saturday afternoon, and a one-hour session on Sunday morning. We hope to find what is wrong with the car. As for the race, anything can happen. It's a 200-lap affair and there is going to quite a bit of action. Even though, I'm a bit disappointed now, I still feel confident for the race.''
Scheckter drove his Panther Racing Dallara Chevrolet to the first pole of the 2005 season with a lap time of 24.8518 seconds for an average speed of 346.193 km/h. He will share the front row of the Toyota Indy 300 with Vitor Meira. The Brazilian rode his Rahal Letterman Racing Panoz Honda to second place with a time 24.9443 seconds. Row two will be shared by rookie Tomas Enge of the Czech Republic and Buddy Rice. The Panther Racing driver posted his quick lap around the 1.5-mile (2.414-km) oval track in 24.9636 seconds to edge Buddy Rice of the United States by only 0.17 second. Winner of last year's Indy 500, Rice sat on the pole here in 2004 for Rahal Letterman Racing. Dario Franchitti (24.9931) of Scotland and Scott Sharp (25.0441) of the United States will share row three.
Twenty-one drivers took part in this first qualifying session of 2005. Rookie Ryan Briscoe, who damaged his car in the morning practice, did not attempt to qualify. The Australian will start 22nd for the opening round of the 2005 season
Drivers will return to the track on Sunday morning at 10:30 for the final practice session of the weekend. The IRL IndyCar Series opens its 10th season of competition with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2:00 p.m. (EST) on March 6, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be televised live on TSN.