Ray Atop Pikes Peak Lineup
June 16, 2001 | 5:15 P.M. EST
For the third time in six races, Ray claimed the pole Saturday in qualifying for the Radisson Indy 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. He blistered the 1-mile oval in 20.385 seconds at 176.593 mph in his No. 2 Dallara-Aurora.
Scott Sharp, Sam Hornish Jr., Robbie Buhl and Buddy Lazier filled out the Top 5.
The pole was Ray’s 12th of his IRNLS career, a record. He was almost 2 mph faster than Sharp, who is coming off a win at Texas.
"It's going to be a tough race," Ray said. "This is a very fast 1-mile oval. Track conditions (Sunday) are going to be a little bit tougher. Track temperature is going to be upward of 150 degrees.
"I think it's going to be the team that doesn't necessarily have the fastest car. It's going to be the team with the least amount of mistakes."
Sharp and his Kelley Racing teammate, Mark Dismore, didn’t make many mistakes in qualifying. Sharp lapped the 1-mile oval in 20.595 seconds at 174.795 mph in his No. 8 Dallara-Aurora. Dismore will start Sunday afternoon’s race sixth after turning in a lap of 173.494 mph in his No. 28 Dallara-Aurora.
“I'm very pleased where the Delphi team is right now,” Sharp said. “We didn't test here, but I feel that we are where we need to be. If you can keep with the pack, it gets pretty exciting and gets pretty dicey.”
Hornish Jr., the points leader, qualified at 174.589 mph in his No. 4 Dallara-Aurora. He is 30 points ahead of Eliseo Salazar, who qualified 12th. Sharp is third in the points standings.
Defending race winner Eddie Cheever Jr. struggled in qualifying, posting a 172.525 mph lap that puts him 11th on the grid.
“I'm not very happy with that but we didn't really qualify that well here last year either, and things turned out all right,” said Cheever, driver of the No. 51 Dallara-Infiniti. “We're good. The Infiniti 35A engine is strong, and I think we have a good race setup.
“It's a long, hard race, and a lot of it comes down to tire management. It's going to be very hard on tires.”
Buddy Lazier of Vail, Colo., pleased the home-state crowd with a 173.566 mph lap. Brother Jaques Lazier wasn’t as fortunate. He qualified 13th at 171.783 mph.
“Come Sunday we'll have something,” Jaques said. “This is home. It's great to be back in Colorado.”
Another local boy, Buzz Calkins of Denver, turned in an impressive eighth-place run of 173.086 mph.
Shigeaki Hattori was transported to Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo., for evaluation after crashing during his qualifying run in the No. 55 Dallara-Aurora. Hattori also crashed earlier in the day during practice.
The Radisson Indy 200 will be televised live on ABC starting at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.