Scheckter Leads Chevy Qualifiers in Nazareth Finale NAZARETH, Pa., Aug. 28, 2004 - Tomas Scheckter again set the pace among the six Chevrolet-powered drivers who will compete in Sunday's Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway. Scheckter and his...
Scheckter Leads Chevy Qualifiers in Nazareth Finale
NAZARETH, Pa., Aug. 28, 2004 - Tomas Scheckter again set the pace among the six Chevrolet-powered drivers who will compete in Sunday's Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway. Scheckter and his Panther Racing teammate Townsend Bell will start nose-to-tail in the 11th and 13th starting positions after qualifying their Chevrolet Dallaras at 164.358 mph and 163.749 mph respectively. Helio Castroneves won the pole for the final race at Nazareth Speedway with a 167.396 mph lap in a Toyota Dallara.
After strong runs ended with disappointing finishes in Michigan, Kentucky and Colorado, Scheckter is hoping for a change of fortune in the IRL's finale on the roller-coaster 1-mile Nazareth oval.
"It's a great track and qualifying is really enjoyable here," said Scheckter. "I don't think we had a perfect run and there was probably a little bit left, but I think that's about where we belong on the grid.
"Turn 2 is flat-out in qualifying and Turn 3 is the most difficult," he explained. "The third turn is very physical, with a lot of g force, and that's what makes it so enjoyable."
Bell agreed with his teammate's assessment of the quirky track: "It was a good run but I left a little on the table in Turn 3," said Bell after putting the Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet 13th on the starting grid. "I would have liked to have one more lap, but we probably would have still been right around where Tomas is. I haven't been here for seven years so I'm pleased with our run. The Panther guys gave us great cars again."
Alex Barron was the only Red Bull Cheever Racing entry to make a qualifying run after his rookie teammate Ed Carpenter encountered the wall in a practice session earlier today.
"We ran quicker than we did in practice so I'm happy with that," said Barron. "Improving our speed was what we wanted to do, but we need to work on getting a little more out of Turn 3. Track position is everything here. We worked hard on our race car. The rules are quite different from last year, and that changes how you approach the car setup."
Carpenter was not injured in the incident and will start at the back of the 22-car field after switching to a spare chassis.
"The tires weren't quite up to temperature when I did a simulated qualifying run this morning," Carpenter explained. "The crew could have fixed the primary car, but it was a better plan to skip qualifying and use the time to get the backup chassis ready for the final warm-up."
Jaques Lazier was the highest finishing Chevrolet driver in the preceding event in Pikes Peak, and he is anticipating another strong run on a short track with Patrick Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. He'll start from the 16th spot with a 162.767 mph qualifying lap.
"We made a gear change after this morning's practice session and that may have hurt us a little," Lazier noted. "We also took some downforce off, and with the higher temperature in qualifying we were sliding the back end coming off of Turn 3. With our finish in Colorado, we're starting to gel as a team and I'm very comfortable with the chassis."
Felipe Giaffone will start the Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet Dallara from 19th on the grid.
"We had a tough morning and we were short on time," said Giaffone. "Qualifying was the first time I ran on new tires and we really didn't have time to fine tune the car. We missed the gears a little bit and perhaps we could have taken some downforce off the car."
The Firestone Indy 225 will start at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 29. The 225-lap race will be televised live on ABC.