Greg Ray nabs Phoenix pole, de Ferran 5th


 by Dan Dakin
March 17, 2001

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Greg won his 3rd straight pole at Phoenix.  All photos courtesy Indy Racing Northern Lights Series

PHOENIX - Gil de Ferran may be the king of CART but the Penske driver found out yesterday winning in the Indy Racing League isn't going to be a given.

The 33-year-old Brazilian driver won the Fed Ex Championship Series title for Penske in 2000 and will run selected events in the Indy Racing Northern Lights Series this season, including Sunday's Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Penske fielded two Dallara-Oldsmobiles with de Ferran qualifying fifth Saturday and teammate Helio Castroneves qualifying 17th.

Sunday's race is considered more of a test session for Team Penske as they prepare for a return to the Indianapolis 500.

Gil de Ferran and Roger Penske

With former Chip-Ganassi driver Juan Montoya winning the Indy 500 last year in his first run in an IRL car, the expectations are high this weekend for the Penske drivers.

But it was IRL veteran Greg Ray taking the pole in his Dallara-Oldsmobile with a qualifying speed of 177.663 miles per hour. Incredibly, it's Ray's third straight pole at Phoenix.

"I really make it no secret that I enjoy qualifying. I love that single speed event. But it does nothing for the championship," Ray said after claiming the pole.

With limited testing at Phoenix this year, the Team Menard driver said he didn't know what to expect. "You can tune to adjust, but between the temperature changing, between rubber buildup and then all the different tires, different cars, different lines, it's really just an educated guess. We didn't know how quick we could go because we didn't get to test here as much as we'd like," he said.

Gil de Ferran gets buckled in

The Penske CART drivers had mixed success in qualifying, and both agreed the difference between the two types of racecars is significant.

"They (Indy car) have a lot more downforce. It had a little too much push, but we're OK. In this car the car really behaves quite differently. It's been a very steep learning curve for me. I wasn't 100 percent pleased with my qualifying effort," said de Ferran.

Castroneves, meanwhile, ran into engine trouble and his crew spent Saturday night replacing the powerplant.

"Unfortunately we had engine issues. We keep changing and trying to figure it out. We're going to change everything tonight. It's a lot of work for the guys, but that's what we have to do," he said.

The Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Eastern Sunday and will be shown live on ABC.

Here's a complete list of qualifiers for Sunday's race:

Driver No./Sponsor/Chassis/Engine Time/Speed

1) Greg Ray

 No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Aurora


2) Sam Hornish Jr.

 No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Aurora


3) Jeff Ward

 No. 35 Heritage Motorsports GForce/Aurora


4) Stephan Gregoire

 No. 7 Tokheim/Nasa Guides Dallara/Aurora


5) Gil de Ferran

 No. 66 Penske Auto Centers Dallara/Aurora


6) Buddy Lazier

 No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light Dallara/Aurora


7) Billy Boat

 No. 98 CURB Records/Beck Dallara/Aurora


8) Robbie Buhl

 No. 24 Team Purex GForce/Infiniti


9) Felipe Giaffone

 No. 21 Hollywood GForce/Aurora


10) Scott Sharp

 No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora


11) Buzz Calkins

 No. 12 Bradley Food Marts Dallara/Aurora


12) Eddie Cheever Jr.

 No. 51 Excite@Home Dallara/Infiniti


13) Stan Wattles

 No. 92 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Aurora


14) Mark Dismore

 No. 28 Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Aurora


15) Robby McGehee

 No. 10 Olympus/Cahill Racing Dallara/Aurora


16) Helio Castroneves

 No. 68 Penske Auto Centers Dallara/Aurora


17) Eliseo Salazar

 No. 14 Harrah’s/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora


18) Airton Dare

 No. 88 1-800-BAR NONE GForce/Aurora


19) Tyce Carlson

 No. 6 Tri-Star Motorsports Dallara/Aurora


20) Davey Hamilton

 No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Aurora


21) Sarah Fisher

 No. 15 Walker Racing Dallara/Aurora


22) Jeret Schroeder

 No. 9 Summit Packaging/PDM Dallara/Aurora


23) Al Unser Jr.

 No. 3 Starz Super Pak/Galles GForce/Aurora


24) Shigeaki Hattori

 No. 55 EPSON Dallara/Aurora


25) Casey Mears

 No. 31 SportsLine.com/Galles GForce/Aurora


26) Brandon Erwin

 No. 30 WorldBestBuy.com GForce/Aurora


27) Didier Andre

 No. 32 Galles Racing GForce/Aurora


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