IRL: Olds Joliet qualifying notes

JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2001 - Jaques be nimble, Jaques be quick, and Jaques be on the pole for Sunday's inaugural Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Jaques Lazier continued two traditions today in qualifying for the...

JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2001 - Jaques be nimble, Jaques be quick, and Jaques be on the pole for Sunday's inaugural Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Jaques Lazier continued two traditions today in qualifying for the penultimate Indy Racing Northern Light Series race of the season. He put a Team Menard car on the pole for the 24th time in IRL history and he extended Oldsmobile's streak of IRL pole starts to 50 straight events.

In his second race with the Team Menard powerhouse, Lazier qualified faster than he practiced. He captured the pole with a sizzling lap of 221.740 mph in Menard's Oldsmobile Dallara, bettering his 220-mph pace in morning practice. It was the second career pole for Lazier, who started on the point with Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Oldsmobile Dallara in Richmond. Va., in June. Lazier replaced Greg Ray, who won four poles this season for Team Menard.

"That car was so incredibly awesome out there!" exclaimed Lazier. "We felt we had a little too much grip this morning, so we went back and crunched some numbers. I could hang onto the bottom of the track real easy. (Engine builder) Butch Meyer is making some big horsepower right now with the Menard Oldsmobile."

Lazier's lap was the fastest pole run outside of the Indianapolis 500 since the IRL introduced its 3.5-liter engine formula in January 2000.

"This is definitely a horsepower track," Lazier noted. "It's the fastest track we run at other than Indy. The fact that we're doing 221.7 mph around a 1.5-mile track is incredible - it's super smooth and you need a lot of power."

Oldsmobile engines powered 23 of the 25 qualifiers for tomorrow's inaugural Indy Racing event at the new Chicagoland Speedway. Scott Sharp qualified on the inside of the second row at 220.970 mph with Kelley Racing's Delphi Oldsmobile Dallara and his teammate Mark Dismore will start behind him on the inside of the third row with a 220.363 mph qualifying run.

"We put in a new engine last night and it just didn't seem to have the same 'kick' as the engine we practiced with," said Sharp. "We put that back in the car and went right back up to where we thought we could run. We put a blistering lap together for qualifying - that's as good as we have. Jaques' lap was really impressive, though."

"That's the quickest speed we've run all week, so I'm happy with that," reported Dismore, who finished second to Al Unser Jr. last week in St. Louis. "We freed the car up for qualifying, put a little more downforce on the nose - about all I could stand. I think we have a good race car that we can put up front tomorrow."

Felipe Giaffone has already clinched the Rookie of the Year title, and now he is looking for his first victory of the season. Giaffone will start Treadway-Hubbard Racing's Oldsmobile G-Force from the sixth starting spot.

"I think the second groove will start to show up in the middle of the race," Giaffone predicted. "If you expect the track to improve, you can raise the car and free it up. That's what happened in Kansas City on a similar track."

Title contenders Sam Hornish Jr. and Buddy Lazier will start eighth and ninth respectively in their Oldsmobile-powered Dallaras.

"We didn't think we had a legitimate shot at qualifying on the pole so we just wanted to go out there and start as high as we could," said Hornish, who brings a 45-point lead over Lazier into the 12th race of the season. "We missed the gearing by a little bit, and those top five guys are pretty quick. The Panther team usually gets things straightened out for the race, so I'm not worried."

"We were going for it and tried to put one down," Buddy Lazier confided after his qualifying run. "A lot of times when you do that it goes one way or the other, and unfortunately this time it went the wrong way. The car was great, the balance was great, but it couldn't pull the gear we had. We lost speed since this morning and that's disappointing. We could have run fifth gear but that wouldn't have put us where we wanted to be. This time it cost us, but it wasn't a bad attempt."

Although younger brother Jaques was pleased with his pole-winning performance, he has greater goals in mind.

"I'm excited about this race, I'm excited about going to Texas," said Jaques. "Most importantly, I'm excited about the Indy 500 next year and competing for a championship."

-GM Racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Mark Dismore , Jaques Lazier  , Sam Schmidt , Sam Hornish Jr.