IRL: Phoenix: Robby McGehee qualifying notes

Problem Develops in Qualifying, But McGehee is Still Optimistic PHOENIX, March 16 - After posting the 12th-fastest time of the day on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, Robby McGehee was confident that he would have a fast car for MBA ...

Problem Develops in Qualifying, But McGehee is Still Optimistic

PHOENIX, March 16 - After posting the 12th-fastest time of the day on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, Robby McGehee was confident that he would have a fast car for MBA Qualifying Saturday afternoon for Sunday's Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 Indy Racing League event.

But a last-minute problem kept the popular St. Louis native and the Cahill Racing team from reaching their full potential.

Right before qualifying, the team noticed an indicator reporting low oil pressure in the black Scottrade/Dollar-Rent-a-Car Dallara Chevy #10. Too late to attend to the problem, they went ahead with the qualifying run.

"On the exit of turn four on the first lap of qualifying, the motor started to go dead," McGehee said.

"It's too bad, because we came out of the box real strong and the Chevrolet motors have been real strong," McGehee said. "It's too bad the problem didn't surface before qualifying so we could have fixed it then."

Despite the problem McGehee completed his qualifying run, putting the Scottrade Dallara 21st on the 25-car grid with a qualifying speed of 171.332 mph. He'll start on the inside of row 11 beside Shigeaki Hattori tomorrow in his jet black car, which is also carrying a decal for the Sheraton Crescent Hotel in Phoenix here this weekend.

Helio Castroneves edged point leader Sam Hornish Jr. for the MBNA pole, 179.888 mph to 179.735 mph.

On Friday McGehee was fifth-fastest in the second practice session with a lap at 172.467 mph. Showing how close the competition is and how different teams peak and ebb throughout practice as they concentrate on different things, that time would have only moved McGehee up two spots had it occurred in qualifying.

With MBA Qualifying in the record books, McGehee is now focusing on the race, where it's all about attrition.

"The race is another story," said McGehee. "We'll change the motor and go from there. This has always been a race of attrition. We've worked on our long runs and we could run pretty quick. So the Scottrade car can do it tomorrow, but we'll have to start at the back."

Another positive note is that McGehee knows he has a car capable of running through traffic, which could allow him to move to the front. "We're running the car so it's not affected by the other cars," he said. "We've been working really hard to get the best mechanical grip we can.

"Wind and temperature changes won't affect us too much," he added. "This track always changes and I've been changing the car from inside the cockpit all weekend. The car is really neutral right now, and it responds to my changes."

The race will be televised live on ABC starting at 4 p.m. EST. A pre-race show will precede that coverage at noon EST on ESPN2.

-bm/lm-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Shigeaki Hattori , Helio Castroneves , Sam Hornish Jr.