Detroit: Series qualifying report

DIXON WINS PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE AWARD AT BELLE ISLE DETROIT, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008 - Scott Dixon won the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award for Sunday's Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, his...

DIXON WINS PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE AWARD AT BELLE ISLE

DETROIT, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008 - Scott Dixon won the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award for Sunday's Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, his sixth earned pole of the season.

Dixon will share the front row with Helio Castroneves, whom he leads in the championship by 43 points with two races remaining.

Dixon recorded a best lap of 1 minute, 12.2861 seconds, 103.090 mph around the 14-turn, 2.07-mile circuit during the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session. That was .4788 of a second better than Castroneves' best lap (1:12.7649, 102.412 mph).

Castroneves won the pole for last year's race at Belle Isle and finished 14th. Dixon, who has won four races from the pole this season, started third at Belle Isle last year and finished eighth.

Oriol Servia and Justin Wilson qualified third and fourth, respectively, while Ryan Briscoe and Graham Rahal will share Row 3.

***

Entry update: Alex Tagliani will replace Enrique Bernoldi as the driver of the No. 36 Sangari Conquest Racing entry beginning with this morning's practice. Tagliani will be allowed to practice for 10 minutes in Group 1 and for the full 30 minutes in Group 2.

Tagliani will be making his IndyCar Series debut. He competed in the Champ Car World Series for eight seasons, earning four pole positions, 14 podiums and one win in 133 starts. This season, he has been competing in the Canadian Tire NASCAR Series.

ALEX TAGLIANI: "I can't explain just how happy I am to be helping Conquest Racing this weekend and to get my first start in the IndyCar Series. This will be a great opportunity for me to show what I can do. I'm aware that it will not be easy for me coming in at the last minute and learning a new car in a new racing series, but I'm definitely motivated on doing my best and helping Conquest this weekend."

Bernoldi injured the thumb on his left hand Aug. 23 at Infineon Raceway.

ENRIQUE BERNOLDI: "I couldn't give my all today because of my left hand. I was turning into the pits with just one hand on the steering wheel and was unable to do my best. The track is bumpy, and it was really hard on my hand. I hate having to miss a race, but I prefer leaving the car to Alex Tagliani this weekend while I rest up my hand in order for it to get better."

ERIC BACHELART (Owner, Conquest Racing): "It's unfortunate what happened to Enrique in Sonoma last week, and that it's causing him to miss this week's race. On the other hand, I'm happy to be welcoming Alex into the team this weekend. Obviously it will be a big challenge for him as he will not get that much time in the car before the race. But Alex has a lot of experience, especially on street courses, and he's raced here in the past as well. I think he will be able to adapt quickly to his new racing environment and it will be interesting to see how he does this weekend."

***

Phil Hill, the only American-born Formula One champion, died Aug. 28. He won the Formula One title by one point in 1961.

JOHNNY RUTHERFORD (Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and driver of the Honda Accord Safety Car): "The fact that he took the flag and excelled racing in Formula One, he was kind of a hero for all of us in the United States during that period. He had great talent. I got to know Phil when his son and my son were racing in Atlantics and he was very dedicated to motorsports and just a great guy. The cars were a lot different than today, but the idea is the same to get in the car and make it go as fast as you can, accept the challenges and go racing."

***

E.J. Viso will be a guest of the Detroit Tigers for tonight's game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Viso, who entertained San Fransisco Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel last weekend at Infineon Raceway, will visit with fellow countrymen Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez.

E.J. VISO (No. 33 PDVSA HVM Racing): "This is another great opportunity to spend time with friends from home and see them play. It's rare that we get to see each other in action. I know they wanted to come to the track today, but they had some obligations that kept that from happening. I'm fortunate to be able to have chance to see the game tonight. I've never seen the Tigers play. I've heard nothing but great things about the ballpark and their staff. I'm really grateful for everyone making this possible and to meet and spend time with all the players before the game. It's going to be a fun night."

***

Former Super Aguri Formula One driver Anthony Davidson is a guest of Panther Racing this weekend. Davidson was scheduled to test in the No. 4 car two weeks ago at Infineon Raceway but injured his shoulder while riding a mountain bike. He, along with GP2 driver Mike Conway, is being considered for a second IndyCar Series seat, should the team find the proper funding to expand to a two-car operation.

***

PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

* Scott Dixon wins his sixth PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award of the season. He also won the pole at Homestead-Miami, Kansas, Indianapolis, Texas and Kentucky. He also started from the pole based on points at Iowa.

* Dixon has won four times from the pole this season - Homestead-Miami, Indianapolis, Texas and Kentucky.

* Dixon's last pole on a road/street course was at Infineon in 2006.

* Helio Castroneves qualified second, his seventh front row start of the season and his fourth consecutive front row start on road/street courses.

* Oriol Servia qualified third, tying his season-best start (Edmonton). He has qualified eighth or better at every road/street course race this season.

* Justin Wilson qualified fourth, his fourth top-five start of the season.

* Ryan Briscoe qualified fifth, his 11th top-five start of the season and his fifth consecutive top-five start.

* Briscoe is the only driver who has competed in the Firestone Fast Six in all six road/street course events this season.

* Graham Rahal qualified sixth, his best start on a road/street course this season. It is his third top-six start of the season.

* E.J. Viso qualified a career-best ninth. His previous best was 10th at Milwaukee.

***

PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified first): "We pride ourselves on spending most of our time on strategy as a team. I think we still have that in our pocket, and our position on pit lane definitely helps during the race. Hopefully we can save some fuel and keep that going. There is going to be a lot of people trying different strategies to improve their positions. A lot of the guys and girls, eight to 10 starting spots back, are going to try some pretty crazy things. We'll keep our mind focused on the race and try to go for the win."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): "We have a great car. I knew this was going to be between Scott (Dixon) and me. It will be very close between both of us. On the second round, I decided to predict a little bit what the track might have with the thicker tires, and we made a very small change. But those changes were enough to unfortunately make the car a little bit difficult and loose. We changed and went back out there. That change definitely proved that was bad. When we got to the slower section (Turns) 4, 5 and 6, the car just lost the edge on the tire for it to turn quick. And unfortunately that edge was enough to make the gap between Scott and me. So I really tried. I was pushing as hard as I could, but unfortunately we couldn't put in a better lap. Second is not bad. Actually, it's pretty good. We're going to try to do everything we can to win the race tomorrow."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, third): "I don't how it was easy for (Helio Castroneves) but I always find here you have to push so hard in qualifying. I find this qualifying format really amazing. It really asks a lot from the drivers. If you're not a driver, I don't think you can understand how much we have to push and how many times. Usually in qualifying, you always find some magic from somewhere. Here you have to do it two sets of tires per segment. You're really pushing so hard at the end in the last segment, and you really need to have tires and pressures to be a one-hit wonder. I'm really happy to be able to put it together. Obviously, we didn't have enough for Scott (Dixon) at all. I don't know how he put that lap together. I'm happy for the team to be third again and showing that we are closer and closer to the big guys."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, fourth): "It was a pretty stressful day. We didn't think we were going to make it (into the Firestone Fast Six). We were very quick and things were going well, but we were never got to do a full timed lap in the first session, so there was a risk of not making it (to the second round), but one quick lap at the end got us into the next 12. Then we were third in the next session, and I wasn't happy with my lap in the final six, but I suppose we'll make the most of it and hopefully finish on the podium with my teammate."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, fifth): "It was the usual, extremely competitive qualifying session. It's a little disappointing. I haven't been 100 percent happy with the balance around here yet. We keep working on it, and we definitely made some gains. Being in the top six again is great. It was a good effort from Team Penske and certainly put us in a good position for the race." (About being only driver to be in Firestone Fast Six for every race this season) "We have been performing extremely well in all of the road courses wherever we go this year. It really shows the consistency of the competitiveness." (About changing track conditions) "The track is rubbering in, so it is getting better, but actually you notice the difference from the start of qualifying to the end of it because it is really warmi ng up in the middle of the day anyway and was getting hotter and hotter heading to the fast six. I think the balance was changing a little bit for me. It is always like that in these qualifying sessions and really keeps you on your toes."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps, sixth): "It was a pretty good run, and the car was really good. At the end of the day, we came up just a little short, but we were happy to be (in the Firestone Fast Six)."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, seventh): "It's really disappointing. We timed nothing right this session. I had to lift all the time for traffic, and I never got a rhythm going in either session. Both times we had to pull out a time at the end of the run, and it just didn't work out for us."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, eighth): "This track is so particular that if you make one wrong change, you can lose a full second. The Team 7-Eleven car was close to making it, but I didn't know what else to do. We made a change and it went the wrong way, and of course we missed the Firestone Fast Six for only the second time. It's definitely disappointing."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, 10th): "I was really hoping to get the Motorola car into the Firestone Fast Six today, but we lost a little time during the second run. We are just a little off the lead pack, and hopefully we can figure out that small piece that we are missing by the time the race starts tomorrow. But we were able to get into the fast 12 these past two weekends, so we are definitely headed in the right direction on the road courses."

***

Roth Racing has withdrawn the #25 entry driven by Marty Roth for the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone. Roth made contact with the wall in the straightaway entering Turn 7 during morning practice session. Damage to the car is more than the team initially thought, and with the limited amount of track time for Roth this weekend, they have decided to focus on the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.

***

SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

8 a.m.

Garages open

10:15-10:45 a.m.

IndyCar Series warm-up

2:45 p.m.

Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented Firestone pre-race

3:45 p.m.

Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented Firestone (90 laps/186.3 miles)

***

The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone Aug. 31 at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season concludes Sept. 7 with the SunRichGourmet.com 100 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will air live at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 7 on ESPN2. The Carneros 100 and Valley of the Moon 100 at 2 p.m. Aug. 29 on ESPN2.

-credit: irl

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Enrique Bernoldi , Anthony Davidson , Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Alex Tagliani , Scott Dixon , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Phil Hill , Ryan Briscoe , Marty Roth , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology , HVM Racing , Conquest Racing