FORT WORTH -High-banked Texas Motor Speedway is a track that rewards horsepower, but today it rewarded consistency. The starting order for Saturday night's Casino Magic 500 was determined by entrant points when hard rain ended qualifying after 17...
FORT WORTH -High-banked Texas Motor Speedway is a track that rewards horsepower, but today it rewarded consistency. The starting order for Saturday night's Casino Magic 500 was determined by entrant points when hard rain ended qualifying after 17 of 27 drivers completed their qualifying runs.
Buddy Lazier and Robbie Buhl were the chief beneficiaries of the cloudburst. Lazier, runner-up two weeks ago in the Indianapolis 500, had turned the seventh fastest speed in Hemelgarn Racing's Delta Oldsmobile Dallara, but was promoted to the pole position based on his team's 138 points. Buhl had posted the 12th fastest speed in his first race this season with an Infiniti engine; he will start on the outside of the front row based on the 112 points that the Dreyer & Reinbold team earned with Oldsmobile engines in the four previous IRL races. Oldsmobile drivers Scott Goodyear and Eliseo Salazar will start side-by-side in the second row.
"We'll take it," said Lazier after inheriting the pole. "We thought we had a successful qualifying run, and this just makes the start easier. These are all-new race cars, and this is the first time we've run on the high banks with them. Our car didn't have any issues, but you're always making adjustments. We're running new 3.5-liter engines and new chassis, so every time we go on the track we are learning."
Qualifying had been postponed from Thursday evening while two separate accidents involving Davey Hamilton and Jimmy Kite were investigated. Neither driver was hurt, and teams using G-Force chassis were instructed to adjust their cars' rear suspensions to prevent bottoming in the fourth turn. There were no incidents today.
Mark Dismore relied on the power of his IRL Aurora V8 engine to set the fastest qualifying speed before the rain arrived. Dismore circled the 1.5-mile superspeedway at 212.065 mph in Kelley Racing's On Star/GM Buypower Dallara powered by Oldsmobile's new smaller, faster-revving 3.5-liter IRL Aurora V8. Dismore had to withstand a strong challenge from Greg Ray of nearby Plano, who turned the second fastest lap at 212.022 mph in Team Menard's Conseco Oldsmobile Dallara.
Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 powered the eleven fastest drivers before qualifying was canceled. The two Nissan drivers were 12th and 13th on the speed chart with laps 2.835 and 3.03 mph slower than Dismore's fast time. Twenty-five of the 27 starters (92.5% of the field) are using Oldsmobile engines. Oldsmobile is racing for its 34th straight IRL victory in tomorrow's Casino Magic 500 - the longest active winning streak in a major American motorsports series. Oldsmobile has won all five IRL events at Texas Motor Speedway and the previous 13 IRL races on 1.5-mile superspeedways.
The Casino Magic 500 is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. CDT on Saturday night, June 10. The 208-lap, 312-mile race will be televised live by ESPN at 8:00 p.m. EDT and broadcast live on the Indy Racing Radio Network.
Oldsmobile Qualifying Quotes:
Mark Dismore/Kelley Racing On Star/GM BuyPower Oldsmobile-Dallara; fastest qualifying speed at 212.065 mph, starts sixth: "I think we have a good car for the race. We did a little better qualifying than I expected to do, which tells me that the track was a little quicker. That's the best the car has been, and the time shows it. When you qualify with your best lap of the weekend, you've got to be happy. My second lap was quicker than the first; I think it was a matter of the tire temperature and the oil temperature coming up. The motor runs freer when it's warm."
Greg Ray/Team Menard Conseco Oldsmobile Dallara, second fastest qualifying speed at 212.022 mph, starts 17th: "Qualifying has always been tight here. Mark and I have swapped the pole back and forth many times. Kelley Racing has a good package, and we had limited track time here. My guys did a great job, and we're close. Pole positions haven't paid off for me this year, so maybe this is better. We didn't get a fully qualifying setup in practice, but we had a pretty good idea of what to gamble on. My second lap was quicker; I shifted going to the checkered flag and that might have cost some speed. I hit the rev limiter hard, so I went to a taller gear. I listened to Mark's run and he didn't hit the limiter, so I think they hit the right gear. My car was really stuck, but Dismore beat us to the punch today."
Jeff Ward, A.J. Foyt Racing Harrah's Oldsmobile G-Force, third fastest qualifying speed at 211.653 mph, starts seventh: "You always have to give it all you have at this place. The car's trimmed out has much as possible, so it comes down to horsepower and gearing. We ran 1 1/2 mile quicker in qualifying than we did in practice, so I'm happy. I was flat out and the car felt good."
Buzz Calkins/Bradley Motorsports Oldsmobile Dallara, fourth fastest qualifying speed at 210.988 mph, starts 19th: "I think we had a good idea of what we could run alone on the track, and that's about where we qualified. My first lap was a little quicker; I tried a different line on the second lap, and it ended up slower. I think I pinched it trying to shorten up the track, while on the first lap I let it out a little more."
Scott Goodyear/Panther Racing Pennzoil Oldsmobile Dallara, fifth fastest qualifying speed at 210.929, starts third: "I was flat on throttle from the moment I left the pit lane. I thought we would get some more speed out of the car, but evidently it was bound up and had a little too much drag. I ran 210.9 on the second lap, and had expected to see 211s or 212s. I didn't get any points out of qualifying, so I hope we'll get some out of the race."
Robby McGehee/Treadway Racing Mall.com Oldsmobile G-Force, ninth fastest qualifying speed at 209.445, starts 14th: "It was real simple: I left the pits, put my foot on floor, and that was it until I took the checkered flag. Maybe I was scrubbing some speed on the exits - the qualifying speed wasn't what we expected, but that's what we got. Last year I started at the back of the pack, and was up to second by lap 50, so I'm not too worried about the race." <pre> CASINO MAGIC 500 TOP SIX STARTERS (based on entrant points) Driver Entrant Engine Points 1. Buddy Lazier Hemlegarn Racing Oldsmobile 138 2. Robbie Buhl Dreyer & Reinbold Infiniti 112* 3. Scott Goodyear Panther Racing Oldsmobile 112 4. Eliseo Salazar A.J. Foyt Racing Oldsmobile 110 5. Eddie Cheever Jr. Team Cheever Infiniti 104 6. Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Oldsmobile 94 *Points earned with Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 in four races