Three Chevys in Top 10 in IRL Qualifying FORT WORTH, Texas, June 10, 2004 - Rookie Ed Carpenter made the most of his previous experience at Texas Motor Speedway tonight, putting Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara seventh on the...
Three Chevys in Top 10 in IRL Qualifying
FORT WORTH, Texas, June 10, 2004 - Rookie Ed Carpenter made the most of his previous experience at Texas Motor Speedway tonight, putting Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara seventh on the grid for Saturday's Bombardier 500K. Carpenter, who competed in last year's season finale at the high-banked oval, circled the 1.5-mile superspeedway at 207.855 mph. Joining Carpenter in the top 10 were Chevy-powered drivers Tomas Scheckter, eighth in Pennzoil Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara at 207.725 mph, and fellow rookie Mark Taylor, 10th in Panther Racing's Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara at 207.420. Dario Franchitti will start on the pole with a 209.609 mph qualifying speed in an Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara.
"We had a really good day," Carpenter declared. "We came in with a new engineer, Iain Watt, for this race, and the enthusiasm has picked up. That's our best starting spot so I'm happy with how everything is going. The team did an awesome job, the motor ran great, and I couldn't be happier.
"This is the first time I've gone to a track for the second time, so all I have to do is go out and take the Chevy wide open right out of the garage," Carpenter explained. "The temperature was a lot cooler when we qualified than when we practiced in the heat of the day, and when it's cooler we have more downforce. In the configuration we have here we're really limited on how much downforce we can take off. We'll work on our race setup tomorrow and see where we end up Saturday night."
Panther Racing teammates Scheckter and Taylor capitalized on the testing done by the team last week at TMS.
"Everybody has been working very hard since Indy," said Scheckter. "Chevrolet and the whole team have put their heads down and I'm happy with the results so far. This would be a great place to get the ball rolling again. The racing here with the new engines should be as spectacular as it has been in previous years."
"The car feels really good," Taylor reported. "We were working on race setup as we usually do, as qualifying isn't too important here. In this type of racing you really want a good race car, and I feel that we can almost run that same setup.
"It was a good run, and qualifying in the Top 10 is a good starting point," Taylor added. "I think we can move up in the race. From what I've seen in the past, racing at Texas Motor Speedway is one of the most challenging races we'll run all year, so I'm expecting a lot of fun and some tight racing.
Felipe Giaffone was the second driver in the qualifying order, and found the track slippery after the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice. He qualified the Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet Dallara 19th at 204.888 mph.
"We were a bit unlucky with the track conditions," Giaffone noted. "We were the second car out, and with the rubber on the track, maybe I should have waved off the qualifying run. There was low grip, but that's the way it is.
"The cars don't have as much downforce as last year, so you're not going to see a lot of two-by-two and three-wide racing," he predicted. "When you're running behind another car you can feel a lot less grip. It's going to make the race a little more interesting, and my car should be OK."
Al Unser Jr. is aiming to repeat his victory in last season's Bombardier 500K. He returned to the IRL IndyCar Series with the new Patrick Racing Chevrolet Dallara at the Indy 500 after sitting out the first three races of the season. He qualified 20th for Saturday night's race at 204.807 mph.
"We went out there and tried our best, but came up a bit short," Unser conceded. "With the new team being put together, we're still searching for that speed we need to get to the top of the podium. We tested here and Chevrolet gave us good power. Really it's in the car, and we need to get the chassis working so that we can use that Chevy power."
Alex Barron was sidelined by a broken gearbox as he started his qualifying run in Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. He'll start 22nd with no time.
"I'm going to have to look into this luck thing because it just hasn't been on my side all year," Barron said. "The engineers and crew put together a great car heading into qualifying but sometimes the breaks don't seem to go your way."
The Bombardier 500K will start at 8 p.m. Eastern time (7 p.m. local time) on Saturday night, June 12. The 200-lap, 300-mile race will be televised live on ESPN.