SPARTA, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2001 - Scott Sharp tipped his hand by posting the fastest speed in morning practice, and he then followed through by leading a one-two sweep by Kelley Racing of MBNA Pole Qualifying for the Belterra Casino Indy 300 with a top lap of 25.1633 seconds, 214.598 mph on Aug. 12 at Kentucky Speedway.
1996 Indy Racing co-champion Sharp won the pole by a surprisingly easy margin in the No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Mark Dismore was second at 25.2754, 213.646 in the No. 28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.
It was the third MBNA Pole of the season for Sharp and the second time this year that Kelley has swept the front row. Dismore won the MBNA Pole at Texas in June, with Sharp just behind.
"It was about perfect, a nine-and-a-half or a 10, probably a 10," Sharp said, rating his run. "Everything just came together for us. We just tweaked it. We didn't make many changes. It always seems to do well in qualifying, in the session we don't really care about.
"We stuck a new engine in last night, and it ran really well this morning."
Sharp led the morning practice at 214.379, just ahead of the 213.831 lap of Eddie Cheever Jr., who led both practices Friday. But Cheever fell to third in qualifying at 25.3283, 213.200 in the #51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Joining Cheever in the second row is fellow Infiniti-powered driver Robbie Buhl, who posted a best lap of 25.4715, 212.002 in the No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone. 1999 Indy Racing champion Greg Ray rounded out the top five at 25.5390, 211.441 in the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone after the Team Menard crew scrambled in the hour between the fog-delayed morning practice and qualifying to repair a mechanical malfunction on Ray's car.
Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. will start eighth in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone after a top lap of 25.6532, 210.500. His closest pursuer in the points, defending event and series champion Buddy Lazier, will start 11th in the No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone after a best lap of 25.6839, 210.248. The 200-lap, 300-mile Belterra Indy 300 starts at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday and will be televised live on ABC.