IRL: Stephan Gregoire Flexes His Muscles in Phoenix Qualifying

PHOENIX, Friday, March 17, 2000 - Stephan Gregoire continued his season of speed Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, turning the fastest lap of practice for the MCI WorldCom 200 of 20.950 seconds, 171.838 mph on the 1-mile oval. "We didn't...

PHOENIX, Friday, March 17, 2000 - Stephan Gregoire continued his season of speed Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, turning the fastest lap of practice for the MCI WorldCom 200 of 20.950 seconds, 171.838 mph on the 1-mile oval.

"We didn't want to try to go out and have the fastest lap of the day," Gregoire said. "We just wanted to see what low fuel and new tires could do, and we ended up having the fastest lap of the day."

Robby McGehee was second fastest overall at 20.991, 171.502 in the Energizer Advanced Formula-Energizer Motorsports G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Tyce Carlson was third fastest at 21.035, 171.143 in the Hubbard-Immke Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

MBNA Pole qualifying starts at 10:45 a.m. (MST) Saturday.

Gregoire's fast lap in the Dick Simon Racing-Mexmil-Tokheim-Viking Air Tools G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone was further validation that he is a contender to earn his first Indy Racing Northern Light Series victory this season. Gregoire was fastest during practice at the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in January, but electrical and handling problems forced him to an 18th-place finish.

The speed continued during the "Test in the West" last month at Phoenix and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Gregoire was fourth fastest during the Vegas leg of the test and second fastest at the Phoenix leg with a fast lap of 174.359 in cool conditions.

Only one incident occurred during Friday's practice, as rookie Sam Hornish Jr. brushed the wall in Turn 2 during the afternoon session. He was unhurt, and the PDM Racing team made minor repairs to the Hornish Bros. Trucking-Advantage Powder Coating G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, allowing Hornish to return to the session.

The top of the speed chart Friday was curiously devoid of past Indy Racing winners. In fact, 1997 Las Vegas winner Eliseo Salazar was the only past winner in the top five, with a top lap of 169.412 in the Rio A.J. Foyt Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

Defending series champion Greg Ray was ninth fastest at 169.197 in the Conseco-Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Defending race winner Scott Goodyear was 12th at 168.840 in the Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader Robbie Buhl was 21st at 165.967 in the Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, while two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. was 25th at 163.029 in the Galles ECR Racing Tickets.com Starz Encore Superpak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. turned all of his practice laps in a Dallara chassis, as the team switched its primary chassis from the Riley & Scott it used at the season opener to the Dallara. Cheever's best lap was 166.597 in the #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

MCI WORLDCOM INDY 200 NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 starts at 2 p.m. (MST) March 19. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at 10:45 a.m. March 18. Practice sessions 8:15 a.m. March 18 and 9:15 a.m. March 19.

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On the air: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 will be televised live on ABC at 4 p.m. (EST) March 19. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be televised live at 11 a.m. March 19 on ESPN2.

ESPN2 will televise pole qualifying at 5:30 p.m. (EST) March 18.

The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 3:30 p.m. (EST) March 19, followed by the live race broadcast at 4 p.m. IRRN will broadcast a qualifying show at 4 p.m. March 18. The area IRRN affiliate is KMVP-AM 860.

The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and Yahoo!/broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.

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Tickets: Tickets for the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 are available by calling (602) 252-2227.

-IRL/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Stephan Gregoire , Tyce Carlson , Dick Simon , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornis
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing