Meira top Chevy qualifier for hot Kansas Indy 300 KANSAS CITY, Kan., July 5, 2003 - Vitor Meira was the fastest Chevy qualifier for Sunday's Kansas Indy 300 in Team Menard's Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara with a speed of 211.619 mph. The racer...
Meira top Chevy qualifier for hot Kansas Indy 300
KANSAS CITY, Kan., July 5, 2003 - Vitor Meira was the fastest Chevy qualifier for Sunday's Kansas Indy 300 in Team Menard's Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara with a speed of 211.619 mph. The racer from Brasilia, Brazil, qualified 17th on a midsummer day at Kansas Speedway that made even his home in Brasilia, Brazil, seem mild in comparison. The track temperature was 124 degrees when qualifying began. Scott Dixon took the pole in a Toyota G Force at 218.08 mph.
"It's hot for everybody, even Brazilians," said Meira, who is racing for the first time at Kansas Speedway. "It's been good here. We've been one of the quickest Chevys. The Menard engine shop has gained some horsepower. We couldn't show it at Richmond and Pikes Peak, which are not really horsepower tracks. Here we will be able to show our progress."
Meira anticipates that the hot conditions will affect the pace of the 300-mile race on the low-banked asphalt oval.
"It's going to be tricky," he predicted. "By ourselves we're flat easy, no problem. But for the race the car is going to have to handle good. We're going to have to work really hard on this in the last practice to see what we do in traffic and try the second groove. Everytime there is heat, you have to conserve everything - your tires, your engine, the electronics, everything. Heat's not good for race cars."
Sam Hornish Jr. will start Pennzoil Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara from the 18th spot on the grid with a 210.22 mph qualifying lap. His car is wearing special Terminator 3 graphics this weekend promoting "The Rise of the Machines."
"You really have to maintain your tires here and stay out of trouble," said Hornish. "The race will depend on the wind and depend on the heat. We'll just keep working away at it. We were a little off what we were running in practice, but qualifying was pretty much what we expected."
Red Bull Cheever Racing driver Buddy Rice was third fastest among the Chevy contingent at 209.288 mph, placing him 19th on the grid.
"We never even trimmed our car out until qualifying because we were more concerned about our race setup," Rice reported. "This is a track that's really hot and there have been tire issues at past races. We're concentrating very hard on full-tank setups. We need to make sure that we don't lose the lead pack and stay up there in the draft. We need to finish on one of these big speedways in the top 10."
Buddy Lazier was the third car out in the qualifying order, and the change in track conditions between practice and qualifying posed a problem for the Hemelgarn Racing Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Chevrolet Dallara, which qualified 21st at 208.88 mph.
"At the end of practice we were in between fourth and fifth gears, so we split the ratios for qualifying," Lazier explained. "We were surprised we didn't pull more gear, but as the temperature goes up, the speed goes down. We lost a little speed, but that's about what we expected. We're looking for long runs in the race. The engineers tell me we cannot be more trimmed out, and everyone here is flat out. Now it's a matter of making the car work good in dirty air and try to draft as well as we can in the race."
The Kansas Indy 300 will start at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 6. The 200-lap, 300-mile race will be televised live on ABC and broadcast on the IMS Radio Network.