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> From IndyCar media service -- see also http://www.indycar.com/ Jimmy Vasser Grabs First IndyCar Pole SURFERS PARADISE, Australia (March 30) - Jimmy Vasser of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing captured his first career IndyCar pole in ...

> From IndyCar media service -- see also http://www.indycar.com/

Jimmy Vasser Grabs First IndyCar Pole

SURFERS PARADISE, Australia (March 30) - Jimmy Vasser of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing captured his first career IndyCar pole in dramatic fashion Saturday as he overtook Scott Pruett of Firestone-Patrick Racing in the final minute of qualifying for the IndyCar Australia.

Vasser, driving a Target Reynard Honda, completed a lap of 105.583 miles per hour around the 2.794-mile temporary street course with less than 35 seconds remaining in the final qualifying session. The lap allowed him to surpass Pruett, who had bettered his provisional pole speed from Friday with a speed of 105.565 mph in his Firestone-Patrick Racing Lola Ford during the same session as Vasser.

Vasser earned his first pole in 59 races and also gave Honda its first on a road course and fourth overall in its three-year existence. Coupled with Alex Zanardi's pole position at the recent Rio 400, the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing duo became the first teammates to win poles in consecutive IndyCar races since Marlboro Team Penske's Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy combined to win the final three poles of the 1994 PPG Indy Car World Series.

"It's a real testament to the team and the car," Vasser said. "This shows how hard my team has been working on our Reynard chassis and how hard Honda has been working to make the engine better on street courses. I'm proud to give Honda its first road course pole, and I don't think it will be their last."

Pruett also was pursuing his first career IndyCar pole, but settled for his inaugural career appearance on the front row. He had qualified third three times in his career, the most recent coming last season at New Hampshire.

"I won't say I was robbed," said Pruett, who also posted the top speeds during the practices sessions over the past two days. "We thought we had the pole. The car has been handling real well all weekend and we thought we had it until the guys came over the radio and told me that Jimmy had beaten us."

Zanardi, a rookie, continued his strong qualifying runs by following his pole at Rio with the third-quickest speed (105.269 mph) at the IndyCar Australia. He also gave Firestone tires a sweep of the top-three qualifying positions for the second consecutive race.

Zanardi was followed by two former champions, Paul Tracy and Michael Andretti. Tracy (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), the defending champion, qualified fourth at 104.789 miles per hour and Andretti (Kmart Texaco/Havoline Lola Ford), who won here in 1994, was fifth at 103.994.

Vasser earned a $10,000 bonus for winning the Marlboro Pole Award and can win an additional $75,000 should he go on to capture Sunday's IndyCar Australia from the pole. He also gains a PPG Cup point for winning the pole to move into a first-place tie with Pruett in the PPG Cup season standings.

The IndyCar Australia, round three of the PPG Indy Car World Series, will be televised on ABC-TV in the states on Sunday beginning at 2 p.m.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Scott Pruett , Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing