IRL: Las Vegas Qualifying Report

David Reininger - Las Vegas, NV (April 21, 2000) - After predicting a pole speed of 208 mph yesterday afternoon, Mark Dismore turned a lap at 208.502 mph to claim the pole position for Saturday's Vegas 300 at the Las Vegas ...

David Reininger -

Las Vegas, NV (April 21, 2000) - After predicting a pole speed of 208 mph yesterday afternoon, Mark Dismore turned a lap at 208.502 mph to claim the pole position for Saturday's Vegas 300 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With his third career MBNA Pole Position Award, Dismore extends his streak of consecutive top-ten starts to 19.

"I feel very happy to win the pole, hopefully we can stay there and win the race tomorrow."

Although the big pay off comes after 300 laps of competition on tomorrow afternoon, there are benefits to starting on the pole. "You lessen the odds of getting caught up in an accident early or going a lap down because of a problem," said Dismore, who captured pole positions at Dover Downs and Texas Motor Speedway last year.

Greg Ray, who will start on the outside of the front row, agreed. "Starting up front is still an advantage, it's just less real estate that you have to come up through and pass."

Ray lined up last in the qualifying line, but fell short of the mark set by Dismore. "Going out last definitely helped us out," said Ray. "Knowing what you have to do going out there helps. The car was great but we fell a little bit short. When Mark when out there and pushed 25.8 (seconds) I knew that was going to be hard to hit. I just didn't get the car hooked up on the last lap, and I caught a big gust of wind in (Turn) four."

Dismore's teammate, Scott Sharp, will start third after qualifying at an average speed of 207.437 mph.

"I was really pleased," Sharp said. "We've been working a lot on the race car. We made some changes overnight that were geared more towards a better, consistent race car. It might have given away a little bit for qualifying, but in qualifying, with warmer conditions, we went faster than we did this morning. We're really pleased."

Eliseo Salazar, who won at the Indy Racing event at this track in 1997, qualified fourth in A. J. Foyt-owned No. 11. "I'm driving for the King," said a smiling Salazar, obviously pleased with his qualifying efforts. "We were pretty good this morning, when we ran a 206. I expected to go a little bit quicker. We made some changes, took a bit of a gamble, and obviously it paid off. I started from fifth place and won the race in 1997. I want to be the first repeat winner and dedicate the win to Sam (Schmidt).

Team Pelfrey brought a brand new Dallara chassis to Las Vegas this weekend for Billy Boat, who drove the car to a fifth place starting position. Boat, who is currently seventh in the point standings after driving a 1999 chassis at Orlando and Phoenix, is pleased with the new car.

"The first time this car ever hit the race track was yesterday," said Boat. "Each time we go out we learn a little bit more about the car. We try to make small changes and just kind of sneak up on the set up a little bit. We feel real good about our race car right now. The balance has been pretty good all weekend."

"We're just going to see what the thing does with a full load of fuel and try to have a well balanced race car that will run hard throughout a fuel stop. Here the key is having a race car good throughout a fuel stop. If you can do that, you'll run to the front."

Jeff Ward qualified sixth in the No. 14 A. J. Foyt entry. Ward set his fastest lap of the weekend in qualifying. "Compared to this morning everything went real smooth," said Ward. "I was flat out. The car had a little push, a little scrub in it. Coming off the corner, I had to turn the wheel a little bit before the wall. Especially here, that'll hurt you, a half a mile an hour or so. In the best case scenario we could have done maybe a 206, but we're happy with where we're at."

"All the cars out there are trimmed out in qualifying," said Ward. "With the tires being better this year, and the cars have more downforce to begin with, you're trimmed out as much as you can and you still have decent grip. The race is a different story, you'll put more down force on the car to make it good in traffic."

"Traffic is big deal here because the main line is the best line. If you go up high you have to lift. There's a lot of lifting during the race. It's who has their car working the best, to come off the corners, to draft down the straight-aways, who will do well in the race. Gearing is real crucial too, because if you go too low, then the draft doesn't matter because you'll hit the rev limiter."

The fastest rookie in the field is Jeret Schroeder, of Vineland, NJ. "We've been struggling trying to get some straight line speed out of the car," said Schroeder. "We've generally been about four mile per hour slower down the straight-aways from the front runners. We've been playing around with some header configurations and some different collectors. I think that hurt us a little bit."

"Qualifying went real smooth. I never once looked at my time. I just went out, put my foot down on the floor and the car stuck, and we picked up two mile per hour from where we had been."

Schroeder's effort, at 205.409 mph, was fast enough to place him eighth on the grid fore tomorrow's race.

Sarah Fisher qualified 13th after struggling for most of the weekend. "The weekend has been kind of a struggle," said the nineteen year old rookie. "Today we finally got it so it's a good, comfortable car. It does have a little bit of understeer, but it's not a bad enough understeer that I have to lift for it. As long as I can bring it around there wide open, that's what we need."

"Qualifying went really smooth. I got the car up to speed faster than I have been. Then I widened the track up a little bit, to let the car do what it wants to do, and give it more room, more momentum. To get a 204 after we've been getting 202s all weekend is wonderful."

In the day's only mishap, Tyce Carlson hit the Turn two wall in today's final practice session. Carlson was unhurt but the car suffered heavy damage to the right side. Carlson will start from the last row of the grid in the team's back up car. Carlson had qualified his primary car in the ninth position.

Davey Hamilton will also start from the last row of the grid in a backup car after withdrawing the team's primary car from competition.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eliseo Salazar , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Jeret Schroeder , Tyce Carlson