Chevrolet Powers Enge to Fifth in St. Petersburg Qualifying Scheckter to Start Eighth with Chevy Power in Inaugural IRL Street Race St. Petersburg, Fla., April 2, 2005 - Chevrolet drivers Tomas Enge and Tomas Scheckter will start the IRL IndyCar...
Chevrolet Powers Enge to Fifth in St. Petersburg Qualifying
Scheckter to Start Eighth with Chevy Power in Inaugural IRL Street Race
St. Petersburg, Fla., April 2, 2005 - Chevrolet drivers Tomas Enge and Tomas Scheckter will start the IRL IndyCar Series' historic first road race from the fifth and eighth spots on the 21-car grid for Sunday's inaugural Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Enge averaged 102.426 mph on the 1.8-mile temporary road course in Panther Racing's Rockstar Chevrolet, while his teammate Scheckter turned a lap at 101.538 mph in the Pennzoil Chevrolet. Bryan Herta won the pole in a Honda Dallara with a 103.664 mph lap.
Enge earned one of the half-dozen spots in the elite Firestone Fast Six, a 10-minute shootout among the six quickest drivers that determined the final lineup. Seeded third in the quick six based on his one-lap qualifying run, Enge was unable to improve his speed and was bumped to fifth on the grid.
"I was trying to do everything I could to get the most out of the car," said Enge after the unique 10-minute session. "We didn't change anything on the car, I just couldn't get the grip that I had before. The team did a brilliant job and I think the Chevy engine is strong as well."
Enge called on his road racing experience in Formula 3, Formula 3000 and Formula 1 to navigate the circuit that winds through St. Petersburg's downtown business district and waterfront.
"I'm happy because we had a few issues which we sorted out for this afternoon," reported the racer from the Czech Republic. "I think tomorrow is going to be an exciting race. We just need to get to the finish and get as many points as possible, and if we're lucky we can look to a podium finish. That's the goal."
Scheckter turned a lap at 101.538 mph and will start on the outside of the fourth row.
"I made too many mistakes on a one-lap qualifying run," Scheckter conceded. "Panther Racing and Chevrolet gave me a great car, but I didn't get that lap right. I missed a gear in one of the corners and locked up, and that cost us. I made a mistake, and you can't afford to do that in qualifying."
Despite his disappointment, Scheckter is optimistic about his chances to advance in the 100-lap race.
"If the cars are following closely and somebody makes a mistake, there are opportunities to pass," he explained. "They've done a good job with the track."
The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will begin at 3:45 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 3. The 100-lap race will be televised live on ESPN.