KANSAS CITY, Kan., July 7 - Jeret Schroeder of Vineland, N.J., is back with PDM Racing for this weekend's Ameristar Casino Indy 200 at the brand-new Kansas Speedway, but so far the reunion with the team that he has run all but three Indy...
KANSAS CITY, Kan., July 7 - Jeret Schroeder of Vineland, N.J., is back with PDM Racing for this weekend's Ameristar Casino Indy 200 at the brand-new Kansas Speedway, but so far the reunion with the team that he has run all but three Indy Racing Northern Light Series events with so far this year hasn't gone as well as anyone had hoped.
Schroeder ran more laps than everyone except Jaques Lazier Friday in practice here in PDM's Dallara/Aurora/Firestone #9, which is sponsored by High Plains Corp., Summit Packaging and AMVETS here this weekend. Tomorrow's 200-lap/300 mile event is the Indy Racing Northern Light Series' first one ever at Kansas Speedway, a beautiful 1.5-mile trioval in Kansas City, Kan., a section of the country which is sweltering from 100-degree Fahrenheit temperatures this weekend. (The track temperature at the start of qualifying Saturday was 143 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Unfortunately a faulty camshaft sensor caused Schroeder to miss Saturday morning's practice session, a development that proved to be very costly. Without any testing budget the team was still obtaining data for its set-ups here, and the lost session, the heat and tire rubber laid down during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race earlier Saturday and some additional factors made a good set-up for MBNA Qualifying even more of a challenge to find than usual.
Schroeder's car was so loose on his first qualifying lap that he brought it back into the pits for adjustments and then moved to the end of the qualifying line. At first the team thought the problem pertained to the car's gears, which proved to be incorrect. They made some changes to try to improve the car's handling characteristics, but unfortunately the car pushed very badly on Schroeder's second qualifying attempt and the best he could muster was 20th place at an average speed of 206.654 mph. Schroeder had gone over 210 mph here in the same car just 24 hours earlier.
Ironically Schroeder will start on the outside of row 10 beside Jon Herb, who is driving the Tri Star Motorsports entry. Schroeder drove for that team at the last two Indy Racing events this year. The two cars' qualifying runs were only 0.249 seconds different Saturday afternoon.
"We went with the same basic set-up we used yesterday, and the car was so loose on my first qualifying attempt that it was undriveable," Schroeder said. "The crew brought me in, and we went to the end of the qualifying line. They thought it was a gear problem, but it wasn't. They made some changes, and I went back out. That time the car had so much of a push that it almost went around on me at every turn. It's a wonder I wasn't in the wall. Obviously we have to make some major changes before tomorrow's practice session and the race. We really guessed wrong today.
"The good news is that we have a fresh Aurora engine in the car and we do have a half-hour session in the morning to try to get things sorted out," Schroeder added. "The PDM Racing team never gives up and neither do I, so we'll just have to dig a little harder tomorrow, that's all."
The final practice session will be at 8:30 a.m. Sunday before the start of the race at noon local time. The race will be broadcast live on ABC at 1 p.m. Eastern. A live pre-race show will be aired on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. Eastern.