IRL: Phoenix Olds Qualifying Report

OLDSMOBILE POLE NOTES: 21 STRAIGHT FOR IRL AURORA V8! PHOENIX, March 27, 1999 - Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 won its 21st consecutive pole today at Phoenix International Raceway in qualifying for the MCI WorldCom 200, the second round of the...


PHOENIX, March 27, 1999 - Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 won its 21st consecutive pole today at Phoenix International Raceway in qualifying for the MCI WorldCom 200, the second round of the 11-race Pep Boys Indy Racing League series. This is the third straight year that an Oldsmobile engine will start on the pole at the fast PIR one-mile oval. 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.

* Greg Ray won his first career IRL pole in Team Menard's Oldsmobile-powered Dallara. Ray was the second fastest qualifier at the season-opening TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 in Orlando, the 1998 Indianapolis 500, and the 1998 VisionAire 500 at Lowe's (Charlotte) Motor Speedway.

* Mark Dismore will start Kelley Racing's Oldsmobile-powered MCI WorldCom Dallara on the outside of the front row after qualifying at 174.622 mph.

* Ray tallied Team Menard's tenth pole in IRL competition. * Ray set the Phoenix International Raceway track qualifying record for new-formula IRL cars at 177.139 mph with a 20.323-second lap, eclipsing the 172.753 mph qualifying record set last year by Jeff Ward.

* Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 dominated qualifying for the MCI WorldCom 200 as the seven fastest drivers relied on Oldsmobile power. The fastest Nissan driver qualified 8th with a speed 4.05 mph slower than Ray's pole-winning lap.

* Oldsmobile engines had a perfect reliability record in practice and qualifying for the MCI WorldCom 200, with no reported mechanical engine problems. The only incident was an engine fire cause by a loose fuel fitting.

* Twenty-four of the 28 starters (86% of the field) for the MCI WorldCom 200 are using Oldsmobile engines.

* The 9 fastest qualifiers all bettered the previous qualifying record.

* Less than one second separated the 24 fastest qualifiers.

* The four fastest qualifiers represent four different independent Oldsmobile engine builders: Team Menard (polewinner Greg Ray); Comptech (Mark Dismore, outside front row); Speedway Engine Development (Scott Goodyear, inside second row), and Klein Engines (Roberto Moreno, outside second row).

* Ten different engine builders supplied Oldsmobile engines for the MCI WorldCom 200 starting field.

* Oldsmobile can extend the IRL Aurora V8's winning streak to 21 consecutive victories tomorrow.

TV TIME. The MCI WorldCom 200 will be televised live on Fox Sports Net on Sunday, March 28, at 4:00 p.m. EST.

MCI WORLDCOM 200 TOP FIVE QUALIFIERS Driver Entrant Engine Speed 1. Greg Ray Team Menard Oldsmobile 177.139 mph* 2. Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Oldsmobile 174.622 3. Scott Goodyear Panther Racing Oldsmobile 174.554 4. Roberto Moreno Truscelli Team Oldsmobile 174.334 5. Jeff Ward Pagan Racing Oldsmobile 174.064

*Track record for new-formula IRL cars


GREG RAY, polewinner: "Fabulous! This is what it's all about, this is what we work for. Last year we qualified second several times, and we were always the bridesmaid. I felt we had the opportunity to be on the pole in Orlando, but we had a few problems. We haven't had any problems this weekend; the car has been very consistent. This is a big moment for me personally, and for the team. Our guys just did a better job - or got lucky!

"In the past I always drove like every lap was my last lap. Now in this team situation, I'm thinking about championships. I'm able to watch the details. I work more with the sponsors and work on being physically fit. From a driver's standpoint, I couldn't be in a better situation.

"Tom Knapp, my engineer, is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He's not going to waste money; if you need something, you go get it. We have everything we need to be competitive. I've never had a year when I've been so pleased with the equipment, the personnel, and the team chemistry.

"If we ran minimum downforce and turned the engine two zillion rpm, the naturally aspirated engines would be as fast as the turbocharged engines. But I think the IRL is trying to control things by not making teams buy that last little bit of technology so that sponsors can afford to be involved and we can have a competitive series. I think they're doing a good job.

"The goal is to win races, championships, and the Indy 500. I've been fortunate enough to find myself in a situation where I think I can do that."

MARK DISMORE, outside front row: "Yesterday after we saw the way track conditions were going to go, we went right into race mode. I qualified my race car with the setup we'll start the race on, except for a couple of very small tweaks. I don't normally do that; we normally qualify with one setup and race with another setup. That's not the case here. It was my choice.

"This track is all about handling. It's up to you to come up with the setup you like. This track is changing all the time, and it's hard to keep on top of. It's disappointing to be in second place and three tenths off the pole. Tomorrow we'll know after the first pit stop what the real story is."

SCOTT GOODYEAR, inside second row: "We're disappointed, but we're actually pleased. We've been working on the race car, just like we did in Orlando. We've been able to run not far off our pace for 40 or 50 laps on a set of tires. If we get a little luck, if the conditions are right, and we catch the traffic right, the important thing is to be there at the end.

"It's gotten increasingly more difficult in the IRL. More people are coming in. Moreno just stepped in and is right on the pace, Ward stepped into a new car and is going very strong. You can find yourself either first or seventh in qualifying. If you have a problem in the race, somebody will be right there to take over your spot. The equipment's not all that different. If the guys get all the pieces together and the driver does a good job, you've got a very competitive package."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Jeff Ward , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Moreno
Teams Panther Racing