IRL: Indy 500: Infiniti pole day report

Infiniti on Front Row of Indy 500 starting grid. Indianapolis, Ind. (May 11, 2002) - Infiniti sits on the middle of the front row of the starting grid for the 86th Indianapolis 500 with Robbie Buhl's impressive four-lap average speed of 231.033...

Infiniti on Front Row of Indy 500 starting grid.

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 11, 2002) - Infiniti sits on the middle of the front row of the starting grid for the 86th Indianapolis 500 with Robbie Buhl's impressive four-lap average speed of 231.033 mph on Pole Day.

"To make this race and qualify well for this race is very satisfying," Buhl said. "It's why we're here. There have been times when I've come very close to missing this race. To be up front makes me very happy. I'm also very happy for the guys at Infiniti. They've worked so hard to give us good power."

The second-place effort by Buhl, in the No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Infiniti, is the best qualifying result for Infiniti at the Indianapolis 500 since joining the Indy Racing League in 1997. The manufacturer's previous best starting position at Indy was ninth place, earned by Buhl in 2001.

The Infiniti Indy V8 engine also powered Eddie Cheever Jr. to the pole position at California Speedway in March this year.

Six of seven Infiniti drivers qualified on Pole Day, four of them in the top ten. Eddie Cheever Jr., who won Infiniti's first pole position at California Speedway in March, was the first Infiniti-powered entry to get in the field. His four-lap run average of 229.786 was good for 6th place.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Sarah Fisher earned ninth-place with a four-lap average of 229.439. Just a tick behind Fisher in 10th place, is Tomas Schecker, a rookie for Red Bull Cheever Racing. He qualified with a four-lap average of 229.210.

Laurent Redon qualified 16th with a four-lap average of 228.106 in the Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing Infiniti, while Red Bull Cheever Racing's Max Papis qualified 18th at 227.941.

All 24 cars that qualified today went faster than last year's pole speed of 226.037.

Practice continues at 10 a.m. (EST) and day two of qualifying starts at noon (EST) on Saturday, May 12. The 86th running of the Indianapolis 500 starts at 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 26. Live timing and scoring of all on-track activity can be found on www.indyracing.com.

QUOTES

ROBBIE BUHL, No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Infiniti:
"We had that run earlier, but we waved it off. Obviously, Dennis Reinbold and I were pretty confident about the car and our Infiniti power to wave off an attempt that we knew would get us in the race. It paid off. We went back, made some adjustments to the car, and did it. To make this race and qualify well for this race is very satisfying. It's why we're here. There have been times when I've come very close to missing this race. To be up front makes me very happy. I'm also very happy for the guys at Infiniti. They've worked so hard to give us good power."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR., No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti:
"That was the best car we have had this week as far as balance. We lost a little bit of speed from yesterday, we're not quite sure why. I'm really glad the car got faster and faster, and I was running flat the whole way around. We might have been a little bit conservative, but I was very pleased with the handling of the car. I am pleased with the improvements Infiniti has made on the engines from last year. After qualifying I was recalling all the disasters we had last year and how smooth everything has run this year."

SARAH FISHER, No. 23 Team Purex/Aventis Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Infiniti:
"It's a tribute to the team. Good teams promote good drivers. In this scenario, my uniform is full; I've got a spare car, and Infiniti engines that are more powerful than anything I've ever driven. I've got Robbie Buhl as a driver/coach and an awesome team owner in Mr. Reinbold. It's just all coming together. It's amazing how much you can do in two weeks. From a qualifying standpoint, we didn't get as much out of it as we could have, but that wasn't the point. We didn't want to trim it out to the top that it was a Greg Ray run or a Team Menard run. We just wanted to get it solidly in the field. I think we've done that."

TOMAS SCHECKTER, No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti
"This morning I was second fastest, and now I am tenth fastest. I was really looking for the pole. We've done many laps in the 230's, but today we just couldn't do it. I was flat out the whole way. It just didn't carry. At least we are in there strong with the Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti. I'm just happy to be in the show, and I am looking forward to the race."

LAURENT REDON, No. 34 Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing Infiniti
"I was concentrating on staying flat. I think I did three fast laps, but on the fourth lap I lifted in turn four because of the wind. I did the best I could, but I was expecting something better. That's the way it is. We'll see for the race, but I'm a bit disappointed. The owner, Eric Bachelart, has told me to do the best I can, and I have tried. Next week on my days off, I'm going to relax and work out and try to think about something different."

MAX PAPIS, No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti
"To make the Indianapolis 500 is something I have dreamed of since I was a kid. I am happy to have made it, and my dream is to win. It was really tough after losing the car yesterday. We didn't have much qualifying practice and I'm sure if we would have kept the other car I would be running up there with Tomas and Eddie. My guys worked really hard all night and we didn't get it in the first attempt, but then we changed the car and I drove it my best. Now you are going to see Mad Max in the race. (Said to Eddie when he first got out of the car) Thanks boss!"

-im-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Max Papis , Laurent Redon
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Conquest Racing