David Reininger - motorsport.com Orlando, Fla. (January 28, 2000) - Indy Racing League reigning champion Greg Ray will start from the pole position in Saturday's Delphi 200 at the Walt Disney World Speedway after qualifying was canceled due to...
David Reininger - motorsport.com
Orlando, Fla. (January 28, 2000) - Indy Racing League reigning champion Greg Ray will start from the pole position in Saturday's Delphi 200 at the Walt Disney World Speedway after qualifying was canceled due to persistent rain. Halfway through this morning's IRL practice session the skies produced steady drizzle, which lasted for most of the day. With the practice sessions divided into two groups, half of the drivers never took to track today.
"Starting up front, you know what the race pace is because you're with the lead group," said Ray. "This is a hard race track to pass on. And going from 4.0 to 3.5-liter engines, if it was hard last year, it should be even tougher this year."
With tomorrow's grid formed using last year's season ending points, Jeff Ward will start from the outside of the front row in A.J. Foyt's No. 14. "Thank you, Kenny Brack," Ward said. "It's always a premium missing the first few laps of excitement at the back. I started in the back of the field last year and had a couple of near misses. It always helps to start up front."
Mark Dismore will start third in tomorrow's race. He was third fastest in practice today after struggling during yesterday's practice sessions. Dismore turned in a lap at 167.030 mph, nearly two miles an hour faster than his best lap yesterday.
"I'm happy with the car," said Dismore. "We tried going for some speed today. The things we worked on seemed to work. I'm pretty happy with everything."
Robby McGehee, the 1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the year, and Buddy Lazier round out the top five starters for tomorrow's race.
Stephan Gregoire continued to sit atop the speed charts with only half the drivers taking to the track today. Gregoire best lap, recorded at 168.374 mph, was nearly one mile an hour slower than his best speed turned in yesterday.
Jeret Schroeder continued to show that he's at the head of the rookie class by setting the fourth fastest speed in today's rain-shortened practice session.
"We went out in the '99 car with the same setup we had yesterday, which was good enough for eighth fastest," said Schroeder. "Then we jumped in the 2000 car to compare it, and we ended up fourth fastest. Just like it was in testing, the 2000 car was faster, so I'm confident the 2000 car is the way to go."
Al Unser Jr. who will make his first start in the Indy Racing League, will start from the rear of the pack for tomorrow's race. Although team owner points formed the grid, technically, the Galles ECR team is a different team than the 1999 Galles team, which fielded an entry for Davey Hamilton last season.
Unser will start 24th.
"On the ovals, qualifying is not critical," said Unser. "It's important to qualify up front at any race, but with oval racing there are so many passing areas that it's not imperative that you qualify up front."
"We've got a long enough race out there tomorrow. I'm sure we'll be in the top half of the field."
The race day schedule has been changed to allow the teams one more practice session. With today's afternoon session canceled, many of the teams never had the opportunity to practice with full tanks. All starters will participate in a half-hour practice session at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.
The Delphi Indy 200 takes the green flag at 12: 00 noon on Saturday, January 29, 2000. Live television coverage of the Delphi Indy 200 will start at 12:00 noon on ABC-TV.
The start of USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series race will follow the Indy Racing League event at 2:30 P.M.