OLDSMOBILE POLE NOTES: 22 STRAIGHT FOR IRL AURORA V8! CONCORD, N.C.; April 30, 1999 - On a cold and blustery night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 won its 22nd consecutive pole in qualifying for the VisionAire 500, the...
OLDSMOBILE POLE NOTES: 22 STRAIGHT FOR IRL AURORA V8!
CONCORD, N.C.; April 30, 1999 - On a cold and blustery night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 won its 22nd consecutive pole in qualifying for the VisionAire 500, the third round of the 11-race Pep Boys Indy Racing League series. Greg Ray put a Team Menard Oldsmobile-powered Indy car on the pole on the high-banked 1.5-mile oval for the third straight year. Competing against Nissan's Infiniti Indy, Oldsmobile engines have started on the pole in every IRL race since the series introduced its 4.0-liter engine formula in January 1997.
After rain washed out practice on Thursday, IRL teams had only one session to set up their cars. Drivers had to contend with chilly mid-50s temperatures and wind gusts up to 35 mph during qualifying.
* Greg Ray won his second straight pole and his second career IRL pole in Team Menard's Oldsmobile-Dallara. Ray sat on the pole in the preceding race in Phoenix, and was the No. 2 qualifier in last year's VisionAire 500. Tony Stewart won the pole for Team Menard at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 1997 and 1998. Ray tallied Team Menard's eleventh pole in IRL competition.
* Ray set the Lowe's Motor Speedway absolute track record at 222.039 mph with a 24.320-second lap, eclipsing the 220.498 mph qualifying record set last year by Stewart. Ray bettered the NASCAR Winston Cup track record held by Ward Burton at 185.759 mph by more than 35 mph.
Ray Quote: "We made a chassis adjustment before qualifying and the car didn't pass tech. We were penalized one lap, so I only had one flying lap. We were in such a hurry that we didn't hook up the radio, so I had no idea how quick I was going. Then I saw our number on the top of the scoring tower.
"This was a telling factor of how Indy is going to go. This track is largely based on horsepower, and we were able to do well. That takes a lot of stress off my mind, knowing that we have the power and the motors to take us to a good run there. Everybody is carrying the same wings; other than the driver really going for it and having a good setup, horsepower is a key issue."
* Scott Sharp, polewinner at the season-opening race at Walt Disney World Speedway, will start Kelley Racing's Delphi Automotive Systems Oldsmobile Dallara on the outside of the front row after qualifying at 221.239 mph.
Sharp Quote: "We tested well here, and we were hoping that would come into play. That qualifying lap was faster than we ran in practice. We made a few changes, and maybe the track was faster. We're working on our race setup, and keeping our fingers crossed. We should be strong tomorrow."
* Scott Goodyear, winner of the preceding race in Phoenix, will start Pennzoil Panther Racing's Oldsmobile-powered G-Force on the inside of the second row after qualifying third at 221.067 mph.
Goodyear Quote: "We thought the car might go quicker. I was flat out all the way around, so the car may not have been free enough. I qualified with our race day setup, so I think we'll have a great car tomorrow. We had a shot at the pole, but weren't quite quick enough."
* Sam Schmidt is the fourth fastest qualifier in Treadway Racing's Oldsmobile-powered G-Force at 220.390 mph. "We still have a little bit of understeer, but it's an easy car to drive fast," said Schmidt. "I didn't like this place last year going over the bumps, but it's good this year. I like starting closer to the front, too."
* Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 dominated qualifying for the VisionAire 500 as the 14 fastest drivers relied on Oldsmobile power. The fastest Nissan driver qualified 15th with a speed 4.79 mph slower than Ray's pole-winning lap.
* Twenty-five of the 28 starters (89% of the field) for the VisionAire 500 are using Oldsmobile engines.
* The three fastest qualifiers all bettered the previous qualifying record.
* The 20 fastest qualifiers were separated by .642 seconds.
* The three fastest qualifiers represent three different independent Oldsmobile engine builders: Team Menard (polewinner Greg Ray), Comptech Machine (Scott Sharp, outside front row), and Speedway Engine Development (Scott Goodyear, inside second row)
* Ten different engine builders are supplying Oldsmobile engines for the VisionAire 500 starting field.
* Oldsmobile can extend the IRL Aurora V8's winning streak to 22 consecutive victories tomorrow.
TV TIME. The VisionAire 500 will be televised live on Speedvision on Saturday night, May 1, at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
VISIONAIRE 500 TOP FIVE QUALIFIERS Driver Entrant Engine Speed 1. Greg Ray Team Menard Oldsmobile 222.320 mph* 2. Scott Sharp Kelley Racing Oldsmobile 221.239 3. Scott Goodyear Panther Racing Oldsmobile 221.067 4. Sam Schmidt Treadway Racing Oldsmobile 220.390 5. Jeff Ward Pagan Racing Oldsmobile 219.736