FOUNTAIN, Colo. - Greg Ray reprised his pole-winning performance in last June's race at mile-high Pikes Peak International Raceway to earn the pole for Sunday's Colorado 200 presented by Deloitte & Touche. Ray and Sam Schmidt turned identical ...
FOUNTAIN, Colo. - Greg Ray reprised his pole-winning performance in last June's race at mile-high Pikes Peak International Raceway to earn the pole for Sunday's Colorado 200 presented by Deloitte & Touche. Ray and Sam Schmidt turned identical 20.424-second times (176.263 mph) on the second of their two qualifying laps, the first tie for the pole in Pep Boys Indy Racing League history. Ray ran two spots ahead of Schmidt in the qualifying order and was awarded the pole because he made his qualifying run first. "I think that's the first time the rules have ever gone in my favor!" said Ray, 33, of Plano, Texas. "We did the same thing we did here last time - we worked on the big things first and got the car dialed in. We never really worry about qualifying until we get down to it." Ray won his third pole of the season and put Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 on the pole for the 27th consecutive Pep Boys Indy Racing League event. He exceeded the 176.005 mph lap he ran in June in Team Menard's Glidden Oldsmobile Dallara, but fell short of Billy Boat's absolute track record of 178.571 mph - a mark set in August 1998 before the reduction in maximum engine speed from 10,500 to 10,000 rpm. Ray won three bonus points for the pole and took the provisional lead in the championship by one point (194-193) over Scott Goodyear. Goodyear will start Pennzoil Panther Racing's Oldsmobile G-Force from the 11th spot on the grid. "It's nice to be on the pole, but the race pays 50 points and qualifying only pays three," Ray noted. "Forget about the money - it's about winning races, collecting points, and winning championships. I think you can expect a dog-eat-dog race tomorrow." Schmidt will start on the outside of the front row after the best qualifying performance of his career in Treadway Racing's Sprint PCS Oldsmobile G-Force. Schmidt finished second to Ray in June at PPIR after the two drivers led all 200 laps. "I think it's appropriate we're starting together on the front row because we ended the last race here that way," said Schmidt. "I don't think anyone expected to see either of us on the pole because Greg and I were both running race setups in practice. My team made a great call on the gear ratio for qualifying - we just nailed it." Schmidt is driving G-Force #001, the same car that conducted the first track test of the IRL Aurora V8 in November 1996, won the Indianapolis 500 in 1997, and won the 1998 season finale in Las Vegas. "This is our big weapon this weekend, " Schmidt explained. "Whenever the team needs a little more, they pull out 001." Mark Dismore, polewinner in Fort Worth and Dover, Del., qualified Kelley Racing's MCI WorldCom Oldsmobile Dallara third at 175.996 mph. Rookie driver Scott Harrington will start Harrington Motorsports' CertainTeed Special Oldsmobile Dallara fourth after topping the speed charts through two days of practice. "We were quickest in every session until qualifying," said Harrington, who will make his career-best start tomorrow. "We just slipped a couple of hundredths, and that took us off the top of the list for the first time this weekend. On my last lap the car was sliding around a little, but when you're playing a game of hundredths of seconds, that's the way things turn out sometimes." Harrington has used one IRL Aurora V8 engine since he switched from Inifiniti to Oldsmobile power before the Indianapolis 500. "We've been burning up the highway between the shop in Indianapolis and Brayton Engineering in Coldwater, Mich. to get it rebuilt after each race," Harrington revealed. "We're not running it too hard, we're not running it on the rev limiter. That 'Lone Ranger' is pulling us through." Twenty-three of the 24 qualifiers used Oldsmobile engines. The only Infiniti driver in the field qualified 20th at 170.584 mph, more than 5= mph off Ray's pole-winning pace. The Colorado 200 will start at 2:00 p.m. MDT on Sunday, August 29. The 200-mile, 200-lap race will be televised live on Fox Sports Net at 4:00 p.m. Eastern and broadcast on the Indy Racing Radio Network.
COLORADO 200 TOP FIVE QUALIFIERS
Driver Entrant Engine Speed 1. Greg Ray Team Menard Oldsmobile 176.263 mph* 2. Sam Schmidt Treadway Racing Oldsmobile 176.263* 3. Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Oldsmobile 175.996 4. Scott Harrington Harrington Mtrsprts Oldsmobile 175.953 5. Davey Hamilton Galles Racing Oldsmobile 175.063
*Ray won pole on tiebreaker with earlier qualifying lap