IRL: Schroeder to start 22nd at Phoenix

PHOENIX, March 17 ­ Despite struggling with gearbox problems, Jeret Schroeder of Vineland, N.J. put PDM Racing's Summit Packaging/Purity Products/Graph to Graphics Dallara Olds Aurora ...

PHOENIX, March 17 ­ Despite struggling with gearbox problems, Jeret Schroeder of Vineland, N.J. put PDM Racing's Summit Packaging/Purity Products/Graph to Graphics Dallara Olds Aurora #9 on the grid in 22nd spot Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway during MBNA qualifying for tomorrow's Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200.

He'll line up on the outside of row 11 for tomorrow's race, which will be covered live on ABC beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

"Basically all we have is first and sixth gear," Schroeder explained after crawling out of the pearl white car Saturday. "We lowered it but we missed it by quite a bit. The PDM crew is working hard to fix the problem, and hopefully we'll have it solved for tomorrow's race."

Schroeder was the second of 27 drivers who took time. His qualifying lap will go into the record book as an average speed of 168.594 mph. It only took him 21.3531 seconds to circle the 1-mile oval.

In the first practice session on Friday Schroeder was llth overall when his 24th lap was clocked at an average speed of 169.260 mph. Things went even better in the second practice session on Friday, when he was sixth overall when his 32nd lap was turned at an average speed of 170.041 mph. When both of Friday's practice sessions were combined he was tenth overall for the day with that 170.041 mph circuit.

Two hours before qualifying on Saturday Schroeder posted a lap at an average speed of 170.288 mph for the third practice session, which was the 18th-fastest overall.

"When you consider that our deal only came together last week and we're competing against teams that did a lot of testing over the winter, we're not doing too bad," Schroeder added. "This is basically our winter testing. This is my first race with PDM, and the guys are getting used to me and I'm getting used to them. We're all doing the best we can, and we'll just see what happens tomorrow and build from there."

-LM

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Series IndyCar