Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ray Claims Pole for IRL Classic Fisher to Start from Fifth Spot

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ray Claims Pole for IRL Classic Fisher to Start from Fifth Spot

Article excerpt

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Greg Ray ran away with another Indy Racing League pole. Sarah Fisher claimed another piece of history.

Ray, the defending IRL champion, needed only one lap at Atlanta Motor Speedway to win his fourth pole of the year last night, producing a speed of 216.104 mph that was nearly 3 mph quicker than the next-fastest car.

Still, Ray has to prove he can turn all that speed into a winning effort in today's race. He has struggled through a disappointing season, finishing no higher than ninth in his No. 1 Dallara Oldsmobile despite dominance in qualifying.

"This team has done a great job all year long," said Ray, who has won eight poles in his career to tie the IRL record held by Billy Boat. "I'm disappointed that I've not had better results. I will do my best to give it to them this weekend."

Ray waved off his second qualifying lap around the 1.54-mile oval when his speed was posted, fully aware that no one was capable of catching his powerful Team Menard machine. The 33-year-old Texan is joined on the front row by Eliseo Salazar, who wasn't even close to the pole-sitter at 213.194.

Donnie Beechler (212.850) and Jeff Ward (212.448) make up the second row, while the 19-year-old Fisher had the best qualifying run of her brief career, claiming the fifth spot in the 25-car field at 211.839.

In fact, it was the best qualifying run by a woman in the history of Indy-car racing, surpassing Lyn St. James' No. 6 starting position for the 1994 Indianapolis 500.

"That doesn't mean a single thing to me," said Fisher, who is intent on proving that gender is irrelevant in this male-dominated sport. "It's a good feeling to be up in the field. I won't have to get through some of that stuff you have to deal with at the back."

In May, Fisher and St. James comprised the first two-woman race in Indy 500 history. …

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