Scheckter Top Chevy Qualifier in Nashville IRL NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 16, 2004 - Tomas Scheckter and his Panther Racing teammate Townsend Bell set the pace for Chevrolet in qualifying for Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville ...
Scheckter Top Chevy Qualifier in Nashville IRL
NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 16, 2004 - Tomas Scheckter and his Panther Racing teammate Townsend Bell set the pace for Chevrolet in qualifying for Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway. Scheckter qualified the Pennzoil Chevrolet Dallara 10th on the grid at 198.829 mph, his seventh top-10 qualifying effort in eight IRL events this season. Bell was a heartbeat behind in 12th at 198.747 mph in the Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara. Buddy Rice won the pole in a Honda Dallara at 201.231 mph.
"It was good, but I think we maybe missed out a little on the gears," said Scheckter. "I think the car had a little more in it. As usual, the Pennzoil car will be good in the race. The last couple of races we've been fighting right up in front, and hopefully we can do that here again. This track is not renowned for two lanes, which is usually what I like, but we'll see what we can do tomorrow."
Scheckter had a moment of drama when he spun in the second practice session without encountering the wall. "Now we know the car can go backwards as well as forwards, which is a good thing," the South African joked.
Townsend Bell will start in the sixth row directly behind his teammate in his second appearance with the Panther team.
"That's the quickest we've run so far, so I'm happy," said Bell. "The car was perfect on balance and that's all we've got today. We can't look to do anything major immediately - it just has to be step-by-step, one foot in front of the other. I feel we've made progress in the two weeks we've been together."
Alex Barron knows the way to the Nashville winner's circle after scoring his first IRL victory at the track in 2002 with the underdog Blair Racing team. This year he'll start Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara 16th on the grid with a 197.993 mph qualifying speed.
"We didn't test here and this track is quite different with the concrete," he explained. "I have some experience here from 2002 when we won. We did a Chevrolet test at Michigan that went real well, so we're looking real good for tomorrow night.
"The key here is to be in the right position at the end of the race, and pit strategy plays a big part," he noted. "It's going to be a little hard to pass with the marbles up high because the concrete really shaves the tires. Red Bull Cheever Racing should have a strong finish, and our goal is to keep getting solid points."
Barron's teammate Ed Carpenter also has previous experience at Nashville in the Menards-sponsored support series. He'll put that experience to good use when he starts 21st with a 196.399 mph qualifying speed.
"We're confused," Carpenter conceded. "The car feels really good and I'm happy with the it, but we're missing something and we haven't put our finger on it yet. The car is really consistent, so hopefully we can run a clean race and do something in the race. All you can ask for is a good, consistent race car, and that's what I've got."
Jacques Lazier joined the Patrick Racing team for this race and qualified the Stacker 2 Chevrolet Dallara 17th at 197.400 mph.
"With the changes we made I thought that we would be able to back up what we ran earlier," said Lazier. "We fell a little short, but we've been working on our race setup and I know we have a real good car. We've made progress from where we were when we started a week and a half ago, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow night."
Felipe Giaffone was scheduled to be first in the qualifying order, but ended up as the last driver on the track. He qualified the Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet Dallara 19th at 197.237 mph.
"We lost our initial spot in qualifying because we made an airbox change and then didn't get through tech in time, so we lost a lap," he said. "It hurt a lot. We struggled all day with different issues during each session. Last race we were okay and we should be all right for tomorrow."
The Firestone Indy 200 will start at 7 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday night, July 17. The 200-lap, 266-mile race will be televised live on ESPN.