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Latest IRL News and Commentary

Sharp leads opening day at Indy

May 5, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 5, 2002 – Scott Sharp showed the speed that helped him win the MBNA Pole for the 2001 Indianapolis 500 by leading the opening day of practice for the 86th Indianapolis 500 with a lap of 39.5481 seconds, 227.571 mph on May 5 in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Sharp’s speed was more than 1.5 mph faster than his four-lap average of 226.037 that delivered him the MBNA Pole last year at Indy.

“Coming in here for me was more of a concern of picking up where we left off with the testing, and making sure the team’s running on all cylinders, which it obviously is,” Sharp said. “And it’s great having Al (Unser Jr.) right there with me. We’re working very well – everybody on the team, engineers and drivers. It’s pleasing, but there’s still so much time.”

Defending race champion Helio Castroneves was second at 39.5764, 227.408 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Sharp’s teammate, two-time winner Al Unser Jr., was third at 39.6677, 226.885 in the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

“We’re trying just to start with a base setup,” Castroneves said. “We’re going to have a whole week until qualifying, a whole month until the race so we want to make sure that the car, the base setup is right there. It’s not just out to lunch.”

1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee became the first driver to hit the new SAFER (Steel And Foam Energy Reduction) barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he hit the outside retaining wall hard in Turn 3 at 5:36 p.m. (EDT). McGehee spun entering Turn 3 of the 2.5-mile oval, hit the SAFER barrier with the rear of the the No. 10 Cahill Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone and then continued into the barrier with the right side of the car before coming to rest on the grass strip between the track and the warm-up lane between Turns 3 and 4. The car suffered heavy damage to the rear and right side.

McGehee climbed from the car complaining of pain in his left leg and was transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for X-rays and evaluation.

“I turned in, and it broke loose,” McGehee said. “I guess I’m the first driver to test the new soft-wall system, which is a distinction I’d rather not have. I can tell you it’s not soft. I hit hard.

“But I can also assure you that I’m very glad it was there. I think the angle that I hit made it a lot worse than it would have been otherwise. I have a cut on one leg, and we’re just going for more X-rays, but I think I’m fine.”

Bruno Junqueira was fourth fastest today at 39.6767, 226.833 in the No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone. 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. was fifth at 39.7572, 226.374 in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Cheever’s backup car also was fast, as his best lap in that machine was 39.7736, 226.281.

In total, seven drivers and eight cars were faster than Sharp’s four-lap average pole speed from last year.

1998 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Billy Boat won the traditional race to be the first driver on the track when practice opened at 2:21 p.m. (EDT) under the green flag waved by Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson.

Thirty drivers in 39 cars combined to turn 1,006 laps today at the Speedway. Practice resumes at noon (EDT) Monday.

Pole Day is Saturday, May 11, with second-day qualifying May 12 and Bump Day Sunday, May 19. The 86th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for noon (EDT) Sunday, May 26.

Quotes

Results

Rank

Car

Driver

C/E/T

Time

Speed

Lap

Difference

1

8

Sharp, Scott

D/C/F

39.5481

227.571

46

2

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/F

39.5764

227.408

28

+0.0283

3

7T

Unser Jr, Al

D/C/F

39.6677

226.885

33

+0.1196

4

33

Junqueira, Bruno

G/C/F

39.6767

226.833

20

+0.1286

5

51

Cheever Jr, Eddie

D/I/F

39.7572

226.374

13

+0.2091

6

51T

Cheever Jr, Eddie

D/I/F

39.7736

226.281

9

+0.2255

7

44

Barron, Alex

D/C/F

39.7930

226.170

21

+0.2449

8

34

Redon, Laurent

D/I/F

39.7993

226.135

45

+0.2512

9

5

Luyendyk, Arie

G/C/F

39.8669

225.751

35

+0.3188

10

24

Buhl, Robbie

G/I/F

39.8930

225.603

25

+0.3449

11

9

Ward, Jeff

G/C/F

39.8953

225.590

27

+0.3472

12

3T

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/F

39.9643

225.201

12

+0.4162

13

21

Giaffone, Felipe

G/C/F

39.9924

225.043

33

+0.4443

14

26

Tracy, Paul

D/C/F

40.0194

224.891

41

+0.4713

15

31

Gordon, Robby

D/C/F

40.0232

224.870

13

+0.4751

16

4T

Hornish Jr, Sam

D/C/F

40.0312

224.825

9

+0.4831

17

2

Jones, PJ

D/C/F

40.0563

224.684

52

+0.5082

18

6

de Ferran, Gil

D/C/F

40.0888

224.502

24

+0.5407

19

17

Kanaan, Tony

G/C/F

40.1206

224.324

24

+0.5725

20

19T

Vasser, Jimmy

D/C/F

40.1265

224.291

18

+0.5784

21

98

Boat, Billy

D/C/F

40.1820

223.981

34

+0.6339

22

55

Treadway, Rick

G/C/F

40.2090

223.830

22

+0.6609

23

6T

de Ferran, Gil

D/C/F

40.2167

223.788

15

+0.6686

24

19

Vasser, Jimmy

D/C/F

40.2300

223.714

6

+0.6819

25

91

Lazier, Buddy

D/C/F

40.2958

223.348

34

+0.7477

26

20

Dismore, Mark

D/C/F

40.3741

222.915

19

+0.8260

27

44T

Barron, Alex

D/C/F

40.4427

222.537

14

+0.8946

28

27

Franchitti, Dario

D/C/F

40.7175

221.035

31

+1.1694

29

53

Papis, Max

D/I/F

40.7744

220.727

28

+1.2263

30

20T

Dismore, Mark

D/C/F

40.8150

220.507

7

+1.2669

31

99

Lazzaro, Anthony

D/C/F

40.8914

220.095

18

+1.3433

32

10

McGehee, Robby

D/C/F

40.8988

220.055

5

+1.3507

33

39

Andretti, Michael

D/C/F

41.1851

218.526

11

+1.6370

34

39T

Andretti, Michael

D/C/F

41.5100

216.815

6

+1.9619

35

22

Brack, Kenny

G/C/F

42.0304

214.131

5

+2.4823

36

55T

Treadway, Rick

G/C/F

42.5105

211.712

4

+2.9624

37

37T

de Vries, John

D/C/F

43.6026

206.410

7

+4.0545

38

2T

Jones, PJ

D/C/F

43.9855

204.613

10

+4.4374

39

12

Hattori, Shigeaki

D/I/F

47.2853

190.334

4

+7.7372

--IMS--

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