IRL: Texas Sam Schmidt Racing pit report pre-qualifying

Pit Report - Texas I Race June 6, 2001 Greetings from Texas, It's hot here and I don't mean the salsa. Although salsa can make any southern girl glisten, it's not quite as powerful as the humidity, which is also in full force. This will make...

Pit Report - Texas I Race
June 6, 2001

Greetings from Texas,

It's hot here and I don't mean the salsa. Although salsa can make any southern girl glisten, it's not quite as powerful as the humidity, which is also in full force. This will make running conditions a bit slower, but it shouldn't dampen the excitement that a race at Texas Motor Speedway holds.

The fans, the media and the drivers are still talking about last year's race under the lights. It was truly amazing! Instead of the usual four to five guys passing in and out of single, double and the occasional triple-wide packs, last year's event was no less than 15 guys racing side-by-side for 31 lead changes in one tight pack for the entire race, and may I add, without incident. The driver's talk about how intense and how much fun that race was. The fans didn't even bother with their seats, and the media still proclaims (even USA Today this morning) that the race was one of the best races ever in the history of the motorsports. Come Saturday night, the drivers and the teams in the IRL will have something of a legacy to live up to.

Sam enlightened me as to the secrets of peddling a car around Texas: "The key is to be flat out by the time you hit Turn three and stay close to the white line. If you're off the white line, you are wasting time. There are some interesting bumps in Turns 2 and in Turn 4, so you need to make sure that you are heading straight before you get to that point. If you're getting the job done at Texas the car will constantly feel as if the rear-end is about to jump out on you at any second." How do you drive with that kind of feeling all the time? "You mentally prepare yourself for the 26 degrees that's in the track and know that if you lift off the gas, the weight will transfer to the front and your rear-end will come around. Staying flat is the key to carrying the speed."

The second practice session was rained out pushing the schedule straight into qualifying without the benefit of running some changes. Conditions changed completely between the last practice session and qualifying - humidity dropped, the wind died down, and in general it became a very pleasant southern evening. Unfortunately our qualifying effort was not as pleasant.

After the first practice session, Davey was flat around the track, but the car still lacked a good bit of speed. Most likely a combination of things - there is probably a mile-an-hour or two left in the set up, gear selections can be improved upon, but then there is the motor. Although reliable, the Ilmor engine is still down a bit on horsepower, leaving us with a qualification of 22nd with a time of 25.0893 for a speed of 208.774mph. Interestingly enough, we are less than a second behind the pole sitter, Mark Dismore with a time of 24.3054 and a speed of 215.508. With some modification in today's practice session, we can pick up a little, the front runners will back up during the race with a race pace, that should make for another - extraordinary Texas race.

The Casino Magic 500 will be televised live on ESPN at 8pm (EDT) Saturday, June 9. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be broadcast live from 6-6:30pm Saturday. The race will replay on ESPN at 3:30am (EDT) June 10.

-SSR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sam Schmidt