IRL: Meira earns Texas pole position

Fort Worth, Texas (September 14, 2002) - Vitor Meira needed only one lap to earn the pole position for Sunday's Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Last in line, Meira waited as the best laps from 25 drivers were posted on the speed charts. Al ...

Fort Worth, Texas (September 14, 2002) - Vitor Meira needed only one lap to earn the pole position for Sunday's Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Last in line, Meira waited as the best laps from 25 drivers were posted on the speed charts.

Al Unser Jr., the only driver to record a lap above 221 mph, sat atop the chart.

Meira didn't waste any time in his Team Menard Dallara, outpacing the pole speed on one of his warm up laps.

"We were going for two laps, but then after the warm-up lap, was very quick, quicker than the pole, I did my first green flag lap. It was good enough so I stopped it."

Nine different drivers have earned pole positions this season, with Meira the second rookie to accomplish the feat. Tomas Scheckter earned three poles this season.

Unser Jr., who finished second last week at Chicagoland Speedway, in the closest finish in Indy Racing history, missed the pole by 0.0609 seconds. Last week, he finished second in the Delphi Indy 300 by 0.0024 seconds.

"We're knocking on the door real hard," said Unser Jr., who drives the Corteco No. 7. "Qualifying is showing it, the races are showing it."

Despite two runner-up finishes this season, where he's lost by less than a foot each time, Unser remains upbeat regarding his chances for Sunday's race. "It's pretty well frustrating. It's frustrating to come close so many times, but the positive thing is we're a part of it."

Sam Hornish will start the 2002 season finale on the inside of the second row. One of two drivers still eligible to claim the championship, Hornish was disappointed in his qualifying attempt after having to shift gears during his run. "A little bit of a disappointment, but we still ran faster than we thought we were going to."

Surprised that his Chevy engine pulled so well, Hornish shifted his Pennzoil Panther car from fifth to sixth during his run, "so that hurt us a little bit."

Starting up front helps for a lap or two, but past history has indicated that the top 10 to 15 cars will be running together in a pack for most of the race.

"It's going to be a long race tomorrow," Hornish said. "It should be very exciting. Hopefully the (No.) 3 car, hopefully I won't have to see him too much, but I imagine I will be seeing him."

Hornish was referring to the No. 3 of Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves who is 12 points behind Hornish, and the only other driver with a chance to win the championship and the million dollars award.

Castroneves qualified tenth with a lap at 218.770 mph. While Castroneves was three tenths of a second off the pole speed in qualifying, Saturday afternoon's final practice session showed the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner third fastest at 220.991 mph.

Hornish was sixth fastest in the final practice session at 220.642 mph.

The Red Bull Cheever team will start fourth and fifth with Buddy Rice beating his teammate and car owner Eddie Cheever by 0.0282 seconds.

Al Unser's teammates Tony Renna and Scott Sharp will start sixth and seventh, respectively.

Notes from the Chevy 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway:

Chassis manufacturer G Force announced today a new company name and logo. G Force owner Don Panoz made the announcement at Texas Motor Speedway. Next season the company will be known as Panoz G Force. The company will reinforce its commitment to the IRL by increasing their design and technical staff.

***

Cheever Indy Racing will host a chat session with team owner and driver Eddie Cheever from 8-9:30 p.m. EDT on September 15, after the conclusion of Sunday's Chevy 500. Visit www.cheeverindyracing.com and select the "Live Chat" button to participate.

***

Radio Shack is using their association with Rick Treadway's ride in the Chevy 500 to launch ZipZaps, a new radio controlled model car. The cars, which measure two and a half inches in length, are modeled after the Ford Mustang Cobra, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Porsche 911 Turbo. The cars will start appearing in Radio Shack stores in October.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Rick Treadway , Buddy Rice , Tony Renna , Don Panoz , Al Unser , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske