Penske and Chevy on top in Pikes Peak qualifying. FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 15, 2002 -- Gil de Ferran was the king of the hill today at mile-high Pikes Peak International as Penske Racing's twin Chevrolet-powered Dallaras swept the front row for ...
Penske and Chevy on top in Pikes Peak qualifying.
FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 15, 2002 -- Gil de Ferran was the king of the hill today at mile-high Pikes Peak International as Penske Racing's twin Chevrolet-powered Dallaras swept the front row for Sunday's Radisson Indy 225. De Ferran circled the high-altitude 1-mile oval at 177.998 mph to capture his second pole of the season. Helio Castroneves duplicated Penske Racing's 1-2 qualifying performance earlier this year in Nazareth, Pa., taking the outside front row starting position with a 177.950 mph lap.
Chevy Indy V8 engines powered the seven fastest qualifiers for tomorrow's 225-mile race as General Motors won the pole at PPIR for the seventh straight race.
"The car has been perfect since we arrived here," said de Ferran, who trails his teammate by 44 points going into the seventh race of the season. "It's just a matter of putting the pedal to the metal and going. The team is doing a fantastic job."
De Ferran shrugged off the rapidly changing weather conditions and gusty winds that swept through the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
"Conditions were a little bit different, but my car is handling so good the wind's not affecting it that much," he reported. "We arrived here with the car 90 percent right and then just fine tuned it this morning."
Castroneves was sitting on the pole until he was knocked off by his teammate.
"The track changed a little so it wasn't the same as in the last practice session," said the two-time Indy 500 winner. "I could have run better, but that's the way it goes."
Felipe Giaffone will start on the inside of the second row in Mo Nunn Racing's Chevrolet G-Force with a 177.938 mph qualifying speed, alongside Sam Hornish Jr., who circled the 1-mile oval at 177.182 mph.
"I was a little anxious," said Giaffone, who had only one qualifying lap after pulling off in his first attempt. "We went a half-second quicker than we ran in practice. We were a little loose in the first attempt, we came in, made a change, but unfortunately only had one lap left. That's a shame because we could have been on the pole."
Scott Sharp, who won the pole at PPIR in 1997, turned in his best qualifying performance of the season, putting Kelley Racing's Delphi Chevrolet Dallara fifth on the grid at 176.910 mph.
"The wind plays more with your head than it does with your car," Sharp insisted. "It's blowing in different directions and at different strengths, and you'd expect the car to be different -- but when I made my run, the car was right on. That was my fastest lap of the weekend, so I've got to be pleased."
Buddy Lazier of nearby Vail, Colo., is 11th on the starting grid with a 174.468 mph qualifying speed in Hemelgarn Racing's Chevrolet Dallara.
"It's not what we wanted," conceded Lazier, the defending race champion. "There was a big wind and we made a big gear change. We went to a taller sixth gear, but then you have to go against the wind on the backstretch and carry all that gear. If I could do it again, I'm sure we'd do it different. We have to find some more speed, but I think the car's a good race car."
Greg Ray, who sat on the pole in the last four IRL races at PPIR, was the first driver out in qualifying. His 172.844 mph lap in A.J. Foyt's Chevrolet Dallara was only good enough for the 17th starting position.
"We had some bad luck today," said Ray. "Just about the time we got ready to trim the car out and work on a qualifying setup in the practice session, it rained. We were very conservative in qualifying. It's disappointing because I know we can go a lot faster than that."