by David Reininger - motorsport.com Fort Worth, Tex. (June 8, 2000) - MBNA Pole Qualifying for Saturday night's Casino Magic 500 was postponed after two separate, yet similar, accidents sent cars careening into the turn four wall at Texas...
by David Reininger - motorsport.com
Fort Worth, Tex. (June 8, 2000) - MBNA Pole Qualifying for Saturday night's Casino Magic 500 was postponed after two separate, yet similar, accidents sent cars careening into the turn four wall at Texas Motor Speedway this afternoon. A dip in the track at the entrance to Turn four has come under fire as both Davey Hamilton and Jimmy Kite crashed in the same spot in today's first practice session.
Although the dip has raised eyebrows in the garage area, suspension pieces have come under scrutiny as Hamilton and Kite, both driving G Force chassis, may have suffered problems with the car's suspension before losing control.
"We are examining the data to find the cause of the accidents involving Jimmy Kite and Davey Hamilton," said Brian Barnhart, the Indy Racing League's Director of racing operations. "We do not feel comfortable until we examine all of the data and put a fix into play. I am pretty confident we will find a fix."
Several drivers indicated track conditions had not changed from previous races on the 1.5-mile super speedway, leaving race officials to focus on component failure on the cars. "We believe it has to do with the suspension in the right rear," Barnhart said. "There is no data yet that has isolated to the G Force only."
Drivers near the top of the speed charts were pleased with their performance while drivers outside the top-ten were quick to address the problems with the track. "Hey, it's not an issue," said Scott Goodyear, fourth fastest today in Pennzoil Panther Dallara. "We'll come back and do it tomorrow. Safety is always the first thing, and I trust that the IRL and TMS made the right call."
Scott Sharp edged Greg Ray by 17 one-thousandths of a second, taking the top spot on the speed charts today with a lap at 210.921 mph. Mark Dismore was the only other driver to run 210 mph, stopping the clocks just 11 one-thousandths of a second slower than Ray.
A.J. Foyt Racing teammates, Eliseo Salazar and Jeff Ward, who were fifth and sixth fastest, both drove the G Force chassis. "The car is fine," said Ward. "The bump doesn't bother my car. I don't feel it as bad as last year."
Robby McGehee was seventh fastest on the day, followed by Eddie Cheever.
"It was a very short session, but the No. 51 Excite @ Home car runs well over the bumps," said Cheever. "All we have to do now is take drag out of the car. The character of the track has changed since last year and it has a whole bunch of new nuances to it. The track is a lot bumpier than it was before, but it's nothing to worry or panic about."
Since several drivers, including Billy Boat and Jaques Lazier, never received track time today, a two and a half-hour practice session will begin at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. Gates will open at 9:30 a.m. and no ticket will be required for admission. At 12:30 the grandstands will be closed and spectators will be asked to leave the facility while the grandstands are cleaned. Fans will then be allowed to re-enter the track at 1:00 p.m. for MBNA Pole Qualifying at 1:15 p.m. and the Pronto Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Craftsman Truck race.
An Infiniti engine will power Robbie Buhl's No. 24 Team Purex car this weekend. Eddie Cheever is the only other driver to use Infiniti power in Indy Racing Northern Light Series competition.
Officials at Texas Motor Speedway unveiled the Foyt-Rutherford Trophy this afternoon. The trophy's name was chosen from more than 400 entries from fans through a contest on the speedway's website.