Las Vegas, Nev. (September 25, 1999) - Sam Schmidt captured his first career Pep Boys Indy Racing League pole position in qualifying for Sunday's Vegas.com 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today. Schmidt, who set an identical time to pole sitter...
Las Vegas, Nev. (September 25, 1999) - Sam Schmidt captured his first career Pep Boys Indy Racing League pole position in qualifying for Sunday's Vegas.com 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today. Schmidt, who set an identical time to pole sitter Greg Ray at the last race at Pikes Peak International Raceway, took the pole by four one-hundredths of a second over outside pole sitter Mark Dismore.
"We worked real hard that weekend (at Pikes Peak) too. It's just how the chips fall. When I came around on the next to last lap it was a 208.9. I knew in my head, just like at Pikes Peak, that we could do it if we just grabbed a little more. We got real close there (at Pikes Peak), I've never seen that happen and it probably won't happen again. I don't feel cheated," said Schmidt regarding the identical time set at Pikes Peak.
Schmidt has always been fast since taking the seat of the Sprint PCS car at Treadway Racing but only recently has he been contending for the pole position. "For the first six races we were just qualifying our race setup and we'd find ourselves a tenth or two-tenths off the pole. We made a mental decision and said, 'if we can step this up a couple of little items, maybe we have a shot at this'. Since Atlanta on, we've been in the top three cars. For the most part we've been within a tenth of the pole since we made that decision."
Mark Dismore will start on the outside of the front row in the MCI WorldCom car entered by Kelly Racing. Dismore was fast right off the transporter this weekend, setting the fourth fastest lap in Friday's first practice session.
"I was very confident about qualifying," said Dismore after touring the track at 209.100 miles per hour. But the soft-spoken driver from Greenfield, Ind. was more reserved when discussing tomorrow's race. "I'm going to go out there and race my own race. I know what I have to do. It's a tire management issue. We're working real hard on trying to be as easy on the tires as we can while trying to maintain a good race pace. Tomorrow will be a tough race."
Starting third, in the A. J. Foyt Power Team G Force, is the 1999 Indianapolis 500 champion Kenny Brack. This weekend is Brack's first time in the G Force chassis since 1997, when he competed for Galles Racing. Foyt last ran the G Force chassis for Davey Hamilton in 1997.
"It's a new chassis, and a new car," said Brack. "It's very smooth and predictable right now. We're still learning, but we're pretty happy right now. I can't say enough about the whole team, and G Force's help. They've put together a car that qualified right up there, and I think you'll see us up there for the race."
Greg Ray, the current points leader in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League will start alongside Brack in fourth position. If Ray finishes Sunday's race with a lead of 56 points or greater, he will win the championship and the Pep Boy Million-dollar bonus.
Ray, who has taken three pole positions this season, was a bit disappointed in his performance today. "I think the track didn't come to us quite like we thought it would. I think we missed the setup a bit."
Scott Goodyear is second in the Pep Boys championship point standings and he's looking to collect all the points he can this weekend. "I'm pleased with the run, but would've liked to collect some points out of it. Our engineer, Andy Brown, made a good call on suspension and wing settings with the increase in temperature. The most important thing right now is that I've got a good race car."
The Vegas.com 500 takes the green flag at 11:40 a.m. tomorrow. Live television coverage will be provided by ESPN2 starting at 2:30 p.m. (EDT).
- motorsport.com staff