OLDSMOBILE MOTORSPORT REPORT: Saturday, October 16, 1999 Qualifying for Mall.com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway 10th of 10 Pep Boys Indy Racing League races RAY PADS POINTS LEAD WITH TEXAS POLE Greg Ray Races to Fourth IRL Pole at...
OLDSMOBILE MOTORSPORT REPORT: Saturday, October 16, 1999 Qualifying for Mall.com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway 10th of 10 Pep Boys Indy Racing League races
RAY PADS POINTS LEAD WITH TEXAS POLE
Greg Ray Races to Fourth IRL Pole at Home Track, Puts Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 on Pole for 29th Straight Race
FORT WORTH - Texan Greg Ray gave his hometown fans reason to cheer as he added three points to his championship tally today by winning the pole for Sunday's Mall.com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the season finale of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. Ray increased his lead over second-ranked Kenny Brack to 16 points by claiming his fourth pole of the season in Team Menard's Glidden Oldsmobile Dallara. Ray circled the high-banked Texas track in 24.238 seconds at an average speed of 216.107 mph. It was Ray's first pole on a 1.5-mile oval; he previously captured poles on the Phoenix and Pikes Peak one-mile tracks.
"I almost spun the car on the first lap because I was pushing so hard," Ray revealed. "Winning the pole was huge. We had struggled all weekend. We put in our race engine and made some calls for qualifying, and didn't really know how the car would respond. It was a big gamble, but every point is crucial."
The top five contenders for the $1 million championship will start in the first four rows. Kenny Brack, second in the standings, qualified A.J. Foyt's Power Team Oldsmobile Dallara fifth on the grid. Fifth-ranked Scott Goodyear and third-ranked Sam Schmidt will start side-by-side in the second row. Scott Sharp, fourth in the points race, will start on the inside of row four.
Ray gave Oldsmobile a clean sweep of the pole positions under the IRL's four-liter formula, putting the IRL Aurora V8 on the pole for the tenth time this season and the 29th straight race. Oldsmobile engines powered the 19 fastest qualifiers for the Mall.com 500; the one Infiniti Indy in the field qualified 20th at a speed 3.396 mph slower than Ray's pole-winning pace.
"Tomorrow's a big day with a championship and a million dollars at stake," said Team Menard engine builder Butch Meyer. "Greg qualified with our race motor, so we feel really good about the speed we can get out of it - but we still have a 312-mile race to run."
Mark Dismore qualified Kelley Racing's MCI WorldCom Oldsmobile Dallara on the outside front row at 216.071 mph, his fourth front-row start of the season. "My first lap was excellent, and the second lap was the same line, just a little different speed," Dismore reported. "I'll gladly take second if I can win tomorrow."
Scott Goodyear posted the third fastest time in Pennzoil Panther Racing's Oldsmobile G-Force at 216.036 mph. "We had a misfire on the second lap, and I think we didn't pick up all of the fuel in the tank," Goodyear noted. "For sure the second lap was going to be a little stronger. We have a good race car for tomorrow; the horsepower is there, and this engine has over 400 miles on it, so the reliability of the engines is very good, too."
Twenty-six of the 27 qualifiers used Oldsmobile engines. The three quickest qualifiers represent three independent Oldsmobile engine builders: Team Menard (Greg Ray); Comptech Machine (Mark Dismore), and Speedway Engine Development (Scott Goodyear).
Weather forecasts call for dramatically cooler temperatures on race day, with a projected high nearly 30 degrees colder than today's mid-80s. Teams will have to make significant changes in their setups to cope with the rapidly changing conditions.
"With the temperature dropping, it will be real interesting tomorrow," Dismore predicted. "It's going to be a Texas-sized shootout," Ray added. "You better come with your six-shooter loaded."
The Mall.com 500 will start at 1:00 a.m. CDT on Sunday, October 17. The 208-lap, 312-mile race will be televised on tape delay by ABC Sports at 4:00 p.m. EDT. The event will be broadcast live on the Indy Racing Radio Network.
MALL.COM 500 TOP FIVE QUALIFIERS Driver Entrant Engine Speed 1. Greg Ray Team Menard Oldsmobile 216.107 mph 2. Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Oldsmobile 216.071 3. Scott Goodyear Panther Racing Oldsmobile 216.036 4. Sam Schmidt Treadway Racing Oldsmobile 215.662 5. Kenny Brack A.J. Foyt Ent. Oldsmobile 214.593