JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2001 - Jaques Lazier spoiled the Infiniti party, putting Team Menard on the MBNA Pole for the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway with a lap of 24.6776 seconds, 221.740 mph on Sept. 1. It was the second...
JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2001 - Jaques Lazier spoiled the Infiniti party, putting Team Menard on the MBNA Pole for the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway with a lap of 24.6776 seconds, 221.740 mph on Sept. 1.
It was the second career MBNA Pole for Lazier but his first since joining Team Menard in August to drive the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Lazier's previous pole came in June at Richmond International Raceway.
"We had a little too much grip in the morning session," Lazier said. "They went back and crunched some numbers. We realized that we had too much downforce. I'm just incredibly proud of this team."
This was the 24th career Indy Racing pole for Team Menard, a league record. But it was a bit surprising considering that Eddie Cheever Jr. dominated the morning practice with a lap of 222.736 in the #51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Infiniti also had another excellent chance of securing its first Indy Racing League pole with Robbie Buhl, who led Friday practice at 221.002 in the No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold G Force/Infiniti/Firestone.
But Lazier jumped to the top spot as the fifth car on track during qualifying and survived another 20 attempts to keep the MBNA Pole. It was the fastest pole speed outside of Indianapolis since the Indy Racing League introduced its 3.5-liter engine rules at the start of last season.
"Never underestimate Team Menard when it comes to qualifying," Cheever said. "Especially on mile-and-a-half ovals and Indy. What we had to show, what we had to qualify is what we have for the race. We don't have any more or any less."
"I'm very happy. Very, very, very happy. I'm proud with what Infiniti has done. To be that close to Menards is very good. Absolutely, very good."
While Cheever didn't win the pole and will start second, he still won $100. Team Menard owner John Menard bet Cheever $100 before qualifying that Cheever would claim the MBNA Pole. After Cheever's lap of 24.7484, 221.105 fell short of Lazier, he walked to Menard to collect his crisp $100 bill.
Scott Sharp qualified third at 24.7635, 220.970 in the No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, with Buhl fourth at 24.8016, 220.631. Mark Dismore rounded out the top five at 24.8318, 220.363 in the No. 28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.
Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. qualified eighth at 25.1124, 217.900 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. His closest pursuer, Buddy Lazier, qualified ninth at 25.1842, 217.279 in the No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.
The Delphi Indy 300 starts at 4 p.m. (EDT) Sunday and will be televised live on ABC.