IRL: Team Menard Charlotte Preview

TEAM MENARD, GREG RAY GET TO 'AIRE IT OUT' AT VISIONAIRE 500 - LAST STOP BEFORE INDY CONCORD, N.C. (April 27, 1999) - Saturdays have been about as good as it gets for Team Menard and its new driver, Greg Ray, during the first two stops...

TEAM MENARD, GREG RAY GET TO 'AIRE IT OUT' AT VISIONAIRE 500 - LAST STOP BEFORE INDY

CONCORD, N.C. (April 27, 1999) - Saturdays have been about as good as it gets for Team Menard and its new driver, Greg Ray, during the first two stops on the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League tour. And they're certainly hoping that trend continues as the series moves to the track formerly known as Charlotte Motor Speedway for its first Saturday-night race under the lights - this weekend's VisionAire 500. But while Ray has used his Saturdays to qualify his brightly colored #2 Glidden-Menards Dallara-Aurora on the front row for Sunday-afternoon races at Walt Disney World and Phoenix, this time he's hoping his weekend finally finishes with a happy ending come bedtime Saturday night. "It's very heartbreaking ... we're two races into the season and we've obviously been very quick, very commanding. Problem is, we have no points to show for it," said Ray, the 32-year-old from Plano, Texas, who qualified second at Walt Disney World despite being limited to just one qualifying lap, and put the car on the pole in track-record time at Phoenix, only to have mishaps prematurely end his bid both times on race day. "This weekend, we're really going to let our hair down, turn up the wick, and use this race as a sparring session for the Indy 500," Ray said. "We're going to put all six bullets in the six-shooter and be ready for a fight." It was gearbox trouble at Orlando that ruined what was shaping up to be a solid debut weekend for Ray with Team Menard. At Phoenix, it was simply a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time as he tangled with a slower car while trying to make a pass. Despite the mishaps, the game plan hasn't changed for Ray and Team Menard as they've managed to keep a keen eye focused on the Indy 500 (May 30) en route to what they hope to use as a springboard to a driver's and team championship by season's end. "Except now we have just nine races left, so it's time to not only be quick, but to start winning, if we're going to achieve our goals," Ray said. To say he's been quick might be the understatement of the year for Ray. He turned an unofficial lap of 227 mph in the recent open test at Indy, and is one of the top candidates to reach 225 mph here at Charlotte this weekend with a chance to stretch his legs on the speedway's fast, 1.5-mile tri-oval. "It's a very fun track, very similar to Texas and Atlanta," Ray said. "But it seems more intimate. You get a nice feeling on the racetrack, except for the big, big bump in Turn Four that people call the 'hump' in Humpy Wheeler's track. It takes a good setup to win here, not to mention a good, solid motor. I think we have all the ingredients - like we did at Orlando and Phoenix - to get the win. We just have to go out and do it." Practice for the VisionAire 500 starts Thursday evening (April 29), with PPG Pole qualifying starting at 6:15 p.m. EDT Friday (May 1). The race starts at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday (May 1). The television broadcast starts with a half-hour pre-race show beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on SpeedVision. Friday's pole qualifying also will be carried live by SpeedVision beginning at 6 p.m. EDT.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray