Hornish Awarded Gateway Pole on Points After Rain Cancels Qualifying MADISON, Ill., Saturday, August 25, 2001 - Sam Hornish Jr. earned the pole for Sunday's Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway the hard way - by earning the most ...
Hornish Awarded Gateway Pole on Points After Rain Cancels Qualifying
MADISON, Ill., Saturday, August 25, 2001 - Sam Hornish Jr. earned the pole for Sunday's Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway the hard way - by earning the most points for his team in the ten preceding races. The starting grid for the inaugural Indy Racing Northern Light Series event in St. Louis was determined by entrant points after persistent rain washed away today's scheduled qualifying session.
Oldsmobile drivers claimed the first four rows based on entrant points, and Oldsmobile engines will power 21 of the 23 starters in Sunday's 200-lap, 250-mile race. Hornish will line up alongside his chief rival for the series championship, Buddy Lazier. The entrant points mirror the drivers standings, with Hornish's Panther Racing team holding a slim 25-point lead over Lazier's Hemelgarn Racing team.
Scott Sharp and Eliseo Salazar will line up in the second row with Oldsmobile Dallaras fielded by Kelley Racing and A.J. Foyt Enterprises respectively. Olds drivers Billy Boat and Felipe Giaffone will start in the third row, followed by Buzz Calkins and Al Unser Jr. The top Infiniti starter is Eddie Cheever Jr. in ninth.
This is the fourth time in IRL history that the grid has been set by points. Tony Stewart started the first race of 1998 on the pole when rain washed out qualifying in Orlando, Fla., and Greg Ray was awarded the pole in Orlando in January 2000. Lazier was awarded the top spot in Fort Worth, Texas in June 2000.
Sharp was fastest in Friday's abbreviated practice at Gateway International Raceway with a 168.262 mph lap around the egg-shaped 1.25-mile oval. Hornish posted the second fastest practice speed at 167.579 mph. Lazier was seventh fastest at 167.579 mph.
"The track is pretty tight, like a paper clip," said Sharp of the track's unusual shape. Gateway has two long 1,900-foot straights connected by sharp turns with shallow 11-degree banking. Turns 1 and 2 have tighter radiuses than Turns 3 and 4, putting a premium on car setup and handling.
Several drivers benefited from the decision to grid the cars on points. Jaques Lazier will start 13th in his first appearance in Team Menard's Oldsmobile Dallara after he was named to replace Greg Ray. Alex Barron will start his first IRL race in 17th in Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Oldsmobile Dallara, the seat vacated by Lazier. Two other IRL newcomers, Chris Menninga and Anthony Lazzaro, will start in the last row.
The Gateway Indy 250 will start at 3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 26. The 200-lap, 250-mile race will be televised live on ESPN at 3 p.m. EDT and broadcast live on the Indy Racing Radio Network.