IRL: Mark Dismore, Oldsmobile on Las Vegas pole

LAS VEGAS - Oldsmobile's new smaller, faster revving 3.5-liter IRL Aurora V8 took a giant step today when Mark Dismore won the pole for Saturday's Vegas Indy 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After two races on tight one-mile ovals, Oldsmobile's...

LAS VEGAS - Oldsmobile's new smaller, faster revving 3.5-liter IRL Aurora V8 took a giant step today when Mark Dismore won the pole for Saturday's Vegas Indy 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After two races on tight one-mile ovals, Oldsmobile's downsized Indy car engine flexed its muscle for the first on the fast 1.5-mile superspeedway near Las Vegas. The next test of the undefeated IRL Aurora V8's horsepower will take place on Pole Day qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. Dismore won his first pole of the season and the third of his career with a 208.502 mph lap in Kelley Racing's On Star/GM BuyPower Oldsmobile Dallara. "Winning the pole rewards the guys on the team who work so hard," said Dismore. "They're the ones who stay up late changing engines and working on the cars. Right now they're like six-volt batteries hooked up on 12-volt chargers, they're so pumped up!" Dismore had to withstand a final challenge from Greg Ray, who started Team Menard's Conseco Oldsmobile Dallara on the pole at the first two races of the season. Ray was the last driver in the qualifying order, and had Dismore's time clearly in his sights. Ray fell short with a 207.932 mph lap that earned the reigning IRL champion a starting spot on the outside of the front row. "It's nice to be dead last because you know what you have to do," explained Ray. "I knew Mark's time was going to be hard to hit. We picked up a lot of track temperature and the wind was gusty. I caught a big puff of wind out of the fourth turn and had to lift." Dismore's teammate Scott Sharp was third fastest at 207.437 mph in Kelley Racing's Delphi Automotive Systems Oldsmobile Dallara, followed by Eliseo Salazar in A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile G-Force (207.405 mph) and Billy Boat in Team Pelfrey's Oldsmobile Dallara (206.225 mph). Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 dominated qualifying for the Vegas Indy 300 as the six fastest drivers relied on Oldsmobile power. The fastest Nissan driver qualified seventh with a speed 2.835 mph slower than the pole-winning time. Twenty-seven of the 28 starters (96% of the field) are using Oldsmobile engines. Oldsmobile is racing for its 32nd straight IRL victory in tomorrow's Vegas Indy 300 - the longest active winning streak in a major American motorsports series. Oldsmobile has won the last three IRL events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the previous 12 IRL races on 1.5-mile superspeedways. Both front-row drivers expect the racing to be fast and furious with the smaller engines mandated by the IRL rules in 2000. "When the track gets hot and you're running on worn tires, you can't accelerate and decelerate the way we did last year," Ray noted. "You have to work your way through traffic and stay in the throttle longer than the other guys." The Vegas Indy 300 is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. PDT on Saturday, April 22. The 208-lap, 312-mile race will be televised live by ABC Sports at 3:30 p.m. EDT and broadcast live on the Indy Racing Radio Network.

Oldsmobile Qualifying Quotes:

Scott Sharp, Kelley Racing Delphi Automotive Systems Oldsmobile-Dallara; qualified third: "We gave up a little bit for qualifying, but we went faster in the hot conditions this afternoon than we did in practice this morning. We made a few minor changes; the car was stuck and we had the balance just right. We're quick enough."

Eliseo Salazar, A.J. Foyt Racing Rio Oldsmobile G-Force, winner of inaugural IRL race at LVMS in 1997, qualified fourth: "The builders have made such strides with the engines, the only difference between the four-liter and the 3.5-liter engines is the torque. You feel it when you're accelerating, but the engine's strong on the top end. I qualified here in 1997 at 204 mph with the four-liter motor, so that shows how much improvement Oldsmobile has made with the new engine."

Jeff Ward, A.J. Foyt Racing Harrah's Oldsmobile G-Force, qualified fifth: "Eliseo ran a 180-degree crankshaft in qualifying and I used a 90-degree crankshaft in my engine, which is also our race motor. The 90-degree motors have good bottom end torque and good throttle response in racing situations. The cars have more downforce than last year so getting around isn't a problem. The race is another story because you have to get through traffic. The main line is the best line, so if you go up high you have to lift. Gearing is crucial here, too. If you draft up behind someone and hit the rev limiter, you'll fall back. It's tricky."

Billy Boat, Team Pelfrey Oldsmobile Dallara, qualified sixth: "Yesterday was the first time this car was on a race track. We're making gains every time we go out. The key here is to have a car that's good throughout a long fuel run. A Top 5 qualifying effort is great for a small team like us. We don't have qualifying engines, so we know we're giving up a little bit of horsepower. We're going to run the same motor for practice, qualifying, and the race."

Sarah Fisher, Walker Racing Cummins Oldsmobile Riley & Scott, qualified 13th: "We've been fighting a pushing car all weekend and turning 202's. To run 204 in qualifying is great. I freed the car up on my second lap, drove it real wide and swung up high to give it more momentum, and that helped. We've been throwing all kinds of things at the car, and finally got it to the state that it's starting to be driveable. This is the first time I've been wide open all the way around this place, and you have to be wide open to be competitive. We're making progress."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eliseo Salazar , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , A.J. Foyt