Hornish Leads Chevy contingent in Michigan IRL qualifying. BROOKLYN, Mich., July 27, 2002 -- Sam Hornish Jr. was the top Chevrolet driver in qualifying for Sunday's Michigan Indy 400 the inaugural Indy Racing League event at Michigan...
Hornish Leads Chevy contingent in Michigan IRL qualifying.
BROOKLYN, Mich., July 27, 2002 -- Sam Hornish Jr. was the top Chevrolet driver in qualifying for Sunday's Michigan Indy 400 the inaugural Indy Racing League event at Michigan International Speedway. Hornish lapped the 2-mile track at 219.580 mph to post the fourth fastest speed. Hornish will start on the outside of the second row, the same starting position from which he won at California Speedway, a twin to the Michigan track. Chevrolet's undefeated Chevy Indy V8 engine took six of the top 10 starting spots.
"We surprised ourselves and ran faster with our Chevrolet than we expected," Hornish said. "We didn't know what was going to happen in qualifying because there were so many guys running in the draft in practice. Tomorrow we find out what everyone can do in the race.
"We don't get caught up in qualifying, and that's helped Panther Racing excel over the years," Hornish explained. "It's all about what the car is going to do in the race. Andy Brown (team engineer) is very meticulous about that instead of worrying about qualifying. That usually works to our advantage. I think we'll see a lot of three and four-wide racing -- and I hope I'm ahead of it."
Mark Dismore turned in his best qualifying performance of the season, and will start Team Menard's Chevrolet Dallara from fifth on the grid after qualifying the Johns Manville entry at 219.634 mph.
"I'm really happy," said the veteran driver. "Butch Meyer and the Menard Engine Group gave me a strong Chevy engine. We just keep making progress. Yesterday we were having a hard time with the chassis and made some huge changes. We went out this morning and the car was better, but not as good as it needed to be. We hit it pretty close for qualifying. That was about all there was, and the car was running very free. I think we have a good chance."
Alex Barron, winner of the preceding race in Nashville, continued Blair Racing's momentum and earned the seventh starting position for the Rayovac Chevrolet Dallara at 218.634 mph.
"Going into qualifying I knew we had a good balance and we had taken a lot of drag out of the car," Barron explained. "In practice everyone is running in the draft so there's an unknown element. The race is really long; unless you're going for the pole, you want to work on race setups. With what Chevrolet has done for us, I think we're going to be a contender."
A.J. Foyt Racing returned in strength after all three of A.J.'s entries were damaged in Nashville. Eliseo Salazar was the fastest of the Foyt trio, putting the Harrah's Chevrolet Dallara ninth on the grid.
"After Nashville, coming to Michigan is a stroll in the park," Salazar laughed. "A.J. always has good strategies and I feel our car is going to be good in traffic. I believe we can win the race."
Buddy Lazier's travails continued today. After running near the front in practice, he qualified Hemelgarn Racing's Chevrolet Dallara a disappointing 15th.
"We want to do well for (team owner) Ron Hemelgarn at his home track, but we also want to do well for ourselves," Lazier said. "We're racing to win, and that's why we go racing. That's as fast as the car would go, just flat out. We need to make some changes. Handling is going to come into it; this is a flatter race track than many we run on, and you're going to need a car that handles well at the end of the race."
The Michigan Indy 400 will start at 3:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 28. The 400-mile, 200-lap race will be televised live on ABC and broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network.