David Reininger - Motorsport.com Fort Worth, Texas (Oct. 14, 2000) - Greg Ray will start on the pole for Sunday's Excite 500 at Texas Motor Speedway after recording a lap at 215.352 mph. in the Conseco Quaker State Menards ...
David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Fort Worth, Texas (Oct. 14, 2000) - Greg Ray will start on the pole for Sunday's Excite 500 at Texas Motor Speedway after recording a lap at 215.352 mph. in the Conseco Quaker State Menards Oldsmobile-powered Dallara. Ray's ninth career pole, a record in Indy Racing Northern Light competition, was the fastest lap turned all weekend, nearly a full mile per hour faster than outside polesitter Scott Goodyear.
With Bryan Reffner winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race last night and Greg Ray winning the MBNA pole award, Team Menard has enjoyed a perfect weekend.
"Three for three, that puts a little pressure on us for tomorrow, doesn't it," Ray responded when asked if the perfect weekend would continue through Sunday's Excite 500. "I'm extremely proud of everyone at Johns Manville-Team Menard. It was Butch Meyer's first (NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series) motor."
Meyer is in charge of Team Menards' in-house engine program for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series.
Scott Goodyear, second in the season long points battle, earned two championship points for his qualifying performance. For the second consecutive race, Goodyear will start on the front row in the Pennzoil Panther Racing Oldsmobile-powered Dallara.
"I think we're in great shape," said Goodyear, who remains optimistic about winning the championship despite trailing points leader Buddy Lazier by 36 points. "We were hoping for 215 (mph), but we missed a little bit on something. We didn't have the speed that we thought we were going to get, but we are pleased."
"Obviously, we picked up a couple of points. We would have liked to be on the pole, obviously, but we'll take it."
Lazier, who qualified sixth, has to finish 14th or better to earn the Northern Light Cup and the one million dollar prize that comes with it.
"I don't think we can change our strategy," said Lazier. "We're just going to focus on our game. We'll just keep doing what we've been doing all season."
Jeff Ward and Al Unser Jr. will start on row two.
Ward, driver of the A. J. Foyt Racing Oldsmobile-powered Dallara, did not pass a technical inspection when he presented the Harrah's car for qualifying. Sent to the rear of the qualifying line, Ward was only given one lap to qualify, yet still managed to place the car third on the grid.
"We didn't get the second lap. I knew we weren't as fast as (Greg) Ray. Third is not bad. I like to run on the bottom of the track, so maybe it's not bad starting on the inside of the second row instead of the outside of the first."
Al Unser Jr. earned his Indy Racing Northern Light Series career-best starting position with fourth place. "We were fourth in the morning session with a draft, so I'm happy with it," said Unser after qualifying.
Robbie Buhl will start fifth in the fastest Infiniti-power entry. Buhl turned in a qualifying speed of 212.340 mph in the Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force. "I'm very happy with my weekend. For us, it's kind of just what we did in practice."
The Excite 500 takes the green flag at 1:00 p.m. local time.