FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 16, 2001 -- Greg Ray continued his reign as the king of the mountain, winning his fourth consecutive pole at mile-high Pikes Peak International Raceway. Ray will start on the pole for a record 12th time in his Indy Racing ...
FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 16, 2001 -- Greg Ray continued his reign as the king of the mountain, winning his fourth consecutive pole at mile-high Pikes Peak International Raceway. Ray will start on the pole for a record 12th time in his Indy Racing career in Sunday's Radisson Indy 200 after circling the one-mile oval at 176.593 mph in Team Menard's Oldsmobile Dallara. Ray extended Oldsmobile's streak of pole starts to 44 consecutive Indy Racing Northern Light Series races.
High track and air temperatures, combined with the high altitude and gusty winds, made qualifying anything but routine for Ray.
"I think we would have been as quick as we were last year, but conditions are really tough," he said. "The sun was intense, the track temperature was 140 degrees and the wind was gusting. Our quickest lap was my warm-up lap, and the speed went down from there."
Scott Sharp will start his Kelley Racing Oldsmobile Dallara on the front row for the third straight race after turning the second fastest qualifying speed at 174.795 mph. Series points leader Sam Hornish will start on the inside of the second row with a 174.589 mph qualifying run in Panther Racing's Oldsmobile Dallara.
Sharp was pleasantly surprised by his qualifying speed. "I'm really pleased -- that was the fastest lap we ran all weekend," he declared. "When the track got hot and slick, we were really chasing the setup. I love this place, but it's a tough track because of the temperature and the altitude. The race tomorrow is a different story. Traffic becomes an issue, and keeping a consistent car under you is paramount."
"I had a little bit of a push out of Turn 4," said Hornish. "We're still not quite where we want to be, but I'll take third. I think you're going to have a totally different setup for the race. Last year Greg ran almost 180 mph in qualifying but the race pace was 168 mph. You have to have a good handling car, and I'm ready to get out there and race."
Nineteen of the 21 qualifiers for the Radisson Indy 200 are using Oldsmobile engines. Ray credited Team Menard's engine department for preparing the Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 that put him on the pole.
"There's no doubt that Ilmor stepped up at Indy and we didn't see it coming," he noted. "You have to tip your hat to Kelley Racing and Ilmor -- even though they are operating within the same rules are we are, they have a lot of expertise and technology available to them. With the new engine package coming in 2003, it's going to get more and more competitive."
Oldsmobile Qualifying Quotes
Buddy Lazier, Hemelgarn Racing Oldsmobile Dallara, qualified fifth at 173.566 mph: "We haven't had a perfect season so far, but we're still in there in the championship points. We are picking up momentum. I got a little lucky in qualifying because the wind didn't gust during my run. I was flat out, the motor pulled really hard and I think we have a pretty darn good race car."
Mark Dismore, Kelley Racing Oldsmobile Dallara, qualified sixth at 173.494 mph: "We've been struggling with the car today and ran out of time to come up with a good qualifying setup for pure speed. We totally revamped the car - different shocks, changed the springs, changed the chassis setup. I used Scott's package, which is unusual because we have different driving styles. It's the quickest we ran all day, so I'm happy."
<pre> Top Six Qualifiers
Pos./Driver/Engine/Speed 1. Greg Ray, Oldsmobile, 176.585 mph 2. Scott Sharp, Oldsmobile, 174.795 3. Sam Hornish Jr., Oldsmobile, 174.589 4. Robbie Buhl, Infiniti, 174.213 5. Buddy Lazier, Oldsmobile, 173.566 6. Mark Dismore, Oldsmobile, 173.494
The Radisson Indy 200 will start at 2:00 p.m. MDT on Sunday, June 17. The 200-lap, 200-mile race will be televised live on ABC at 4:00 p.m. EDT and broadcast live on the Indy Racing Radio Network.