IRL, Indy 500: Ray Has Eye on PPG Pole after 227 MPH Lap
22 May 1999INDIANAPOLIS- Greg Ray established himself as the favorite for the PPG Pole at the Indianapolis 500, turning a lap of 227.175 mph Friday in the final practice before Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Ray, from Plano, Texas, posted his best lap in the primary Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone to sit atop the speed charts for the second straight day. Ray has posted the fastest practice speed on the 2.5-mile oval during five of the seven days leading up to Pole Day, including the fastest overall, 227.192.
Pole Day starts at 11 a.m. (EST) Saturday. Bump Day is Sunday; Race Day May 30. Ray is 56th in the qualifying order among 72 entries. Defending race champion Eddie Cheever Jr. drew first in the qualifying order.
"The biggest factor tomorrow is the weather," Ray said. "You have to go four laps. You get one quick one. Then the next ones begin to fade. I don't have a crystal ball. If I did, we'd get the pole and get out of here."
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk was second fastest Friday at 226.131 in the primary Sprint PCS-Meijer G Force/Aurora/Firestone. Luyendyk posted his fastest lap of the event with only 47 minutes remaining.
Luyendyk was followed by Treadway Racing teammate Sam Schmidt at 225.468 in the primary Unistar Auto Insurance G Force/Aurora/Firestone.
Scott Sharp was fourth and fifth fastest, his best laps of the event in the primary and backup Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear cars at 224.792 and 224.159, respectively.
1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Kenny Brack was sixth fastest in the primary A.J. Foyt PowerTeam Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear at 224.087. Pep Boys Indy Racing League points leader Scott Goodyear was eighth fastest at 223.314 in the backup Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear.
Former league champion Tony Stewart did not practice Friday due to his commitments at the NASCAR Winston Cup all-star event this weekend in Charlotte, N.C. Stewart's co-car owner, Larry Curry, drew the No. 2 spot in the qualifying order. That should give Stewart enough time to make a qualification attempt for this event and then fly to Charlotte for the NASCAR event Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
John Paul Jr. was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with a severe back contusion and back strain after an accident. Rookie Mike Borkowski was unhurt in an accident.