McGehee makes first laps at RIR Friday afternoon; qualifies 16th for tomorrow's SunTrust Indy 250. RICHMOND, Va., June 28 - Robby McGehee made his first lap ever at Richmond International Raceway Friday afternoon. Friday night he put ...
McGehee makes first laps at RIR Friday afternoon; qualifies 16th for tomorrow's SunTrust Indy 250.
RICHMOND, Va., June 28 - Robby McGehee made his first lap ever at Richmond International Raceway Friday afternoon. Friday night he put Beck Motorsports/Parsons Motorsport Marketing's Norwalk Furniture Dallara Chevy #54 into the field for tomorrow night's SunTrust Indy Challenge Indy Racing League event by qualifying 16th at an average speed of 161.193 mph.
Everybody but the two slowest qualifiers here Friday (Robby Buhl and Jon Herb) qualified faster than the speed Jaques Lazier ran to earn the pole here last year (160.417 mph).
"The car felt good," McGehee said moment after his qualifying run, which was the tenth of 21 qualifying attempts.
"That's the fastest we've gone here all day, so that's good," McGehee said of his qualifying run. "I think it'll be a really long race with a lot of attrition. But my car was comfortable. I got loose on my last warm-up lap, but the fun thing about this place is that you can get loose and get away with it."
McGehee will start on the outside of Sarah Fisher in row eight when the race gets the green flag tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. It will be televised live on ESPN. The 250-lap, 187.5-mile race is the eighth of 15 IRL races this year, and McGehee's second event with the Beck Motorsports/Parsons Motorsports Marketing team.
McGehee was 15th-fastest out of 22 drivers who ran in practice sessions here earlier Friday. His fastest lap in practice Friday was 160.622 mph, which occurred in the second practice session.
McGehee brushed the wall and spun on the frontstretch to end the first group's first practice session. He was not injured but since he did brush the wall, he was the first driver to be examined and released from the track's brand-new infield care center.
"I just got in a little too hard," McGehee said.
The Beck Motorsports crew quickly made repairs and McGehee was back on the track during the second group's second practice session a couple hours later.
McGehee wasn't able to attend last year's race here because he was recuperating from injuries sustained in a race at Texas Motor Speedway. "That puts us behind the drivers who have raced here before, but Beck Motorsports was here last year so that helps," McGehee said.
His first impression of the track?
"Wow! This place really demands a lot of concentration," McGehee said over the radio after doing his first laps here Friday afternoon. "Two hundred fifty laps around this place is going to be grueling."
During practice the team worked hard on the car's set-up. They concentrated on trying to alleviate a loose condition, especially over the bumps in turn two, with tire pressure changes and adjustments to the chassis and shocks.
Handling and tire and fuel conservation will be crucial.
"Everybody will try to make this a two-stop race, so we'll have to try to make the tires last about 80 laps," Beck noted.
Race conditions will be very different than practice too, because practice was held during the afternoon and tomorrow's race will be held at night.
One thing is for certain: one SunTrust Bank customer will really be cheering for McGehee to win.
McGehee, Robbie Buhl, Airton Dare and Eddie Cheever are participating in a program for the bank here and at the upcoming Nashville race in which they are paired with a bank customer in each market. Among other prizes being offered, if any one of those four drivers win the race tomorrow, both the driver involved and the customer will each receive $50,000 from SunTrust Bank.
"I'll meet my SunTrust customer tomorrow right before the race" McGehee noted, "and there's nothing I'd like better than to make us both a cool 50 grand."