IRL: Texas II: Chevy Friday report

Chevy Qualifies on Front Row for Chevy 500 FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 15, 2004 - Chevy is on the marquee at Texas Motor Speedway and Chevy is on the front row for Sunday's Chevy 500, the season finale of the IRL IndyCar series. Tomas Scheckter...

Chevy Qualifies on Front Row for Chevy 500

FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 15, 2004 - Chevy is on the marquee at Texas Motor Speedway and Chevy is on the front row for Sunday's Chevy 500, the season finale of the IRL IndyCar series. Tomas Scheckter turned in his best qualifying performance of the season, putting Pennzoil Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara in the second starting spot with a 215.831 mph lap around the 1.5-mile speedway. Scheckter, the sixth driver to make a qualifying run, was edged by Helio Castroneves' 215.996 mph run in a Toyota Dallara near the conclusion of qualifying. Scheckter's previous best starting position in 2004 was third at the season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I had a car that was capable of winning the pole, but Helio's a good qualifier and the temperature cooled off at the end," said Scheckter.

"Chevy has never stopped working, and they have something different for this race," he continued. "The championships are already decided, but Chevy dug deep and pulled it out for me in this last race. I take my hat off to them and to my team for doing a great job."

Townsend Bell, qualified 13th at 212.939 mph in Panther Racing's Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara, was elated with his teammate's performance.

"I'm really happy for Tomas," Bell declared. "That was an impressive run, and I hope we can carry that over to the race."

Qualifying was delayed one hour by an extended session for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, so IndyCar Series drivers and teams had to cope with rapidly changing conditions at sunset.

"The sun was a bit of a problem out of Turn 4," Bell reported, "but the wind didn't affect the run. The Panther guys got the gearing perfect and the car was spot on."

Alex Barron was the second fastest Chevy qualifier for the Chevy 500, 11th on the grid in Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara at 213.057 mph.

"We did some work between practice and qualifying and found some speed," Barron reported. "The Chevrolet engine is running great, and we're starting from a decent spot for the race, so I'm pleased with that. My car is already pretty good, but we still have more time tomorrow to work on the race setup and make sure it's the best it can be. It will be an intense race, so I'll just work on staying up with the lead pack and be ready for the finish."

Ed Carpenter has a mathematical chance to win the Rookie of the Year title, but he'll start his bid from the 20th spot on the grid after qualifying the second Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara 20th at 210.852 mph.

"It got a little bit windy out there for qualifying, but we couldn't have done better on our gears," Carpenter said. "Our car was good, but we still need more speed and you can only do so much with what you have. We have a pretty good setup since we tested here a few weeks ago, so I'm not too worried about our race setup for Sunday. There's been a lot of highs and lows this season, so I'm just looking forward to finishing the year in a positive way."

Tomas Enge of the Czech Republic will make his second IRL start on Sunday from 18th on the grid in Patrick Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. A contingent of his countrymen made the long journey to Texas Motor Speedway to support him.

"It went better than we expected," said Enge after his qualifying lap at 211.295 mph. "It's quite a different track from Fontana. We tested here several weeks ago, and I think we'll find a good way to set up the car. We have to concentrate a little more on the race setup because it's going to be more crucial than the qualifying. We have a big group of people from the Czech Republic behind me, so I have some friends here."

The season-ending Chevy 500K will begin at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, October 17. The 200-lap, 300-mile race will be televised live on ABC.

-gm-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Helio Castroneves , Alex Barron , Townsend Bell , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing