Scott Dixon will start from the pole position in Saturday night's Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a qualifying speed of 213.341 mph. Dixon's Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon earned the pole position last year with a single lap at 214.322 mph. The qualifying format for oval tracks has changed this season with starting position determined by a driver's average speed over four laps.
Wheldon, who is looking for an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory at Homestead, crashed on his second warm up lap and did not turn in a time. He was taken to the infield care center where he was cleared to drive.
Vision Racing drivers' Ed Carpenter and A. J. Foyt IV will start second and third, respectively. Carpenter was on his way to knocking Dixon off the pole through three of his laps but his fourth lap was a few one-hundredths of a second slower. Dixon turned four consistent laps at 25 seconds flat. Carpenter turned three with his fourth at 25.1184 seconds.
"I think the biggest thing was when it started to cool off," said Dixon. "There were a bunch of guys who we didn't think we would have to worry about who ended up having some big lap times. Kudos to the Vision team."
Danica Patrick led the Andretti Green Racing contingent, qualifying fourth. All the AGR cars will start in the top ten with Marco Andretti sixth, Tony Kanaan eighth and rookie Hideki Mutoh tenth. Patrick was pleased with her run after the team struggled during practice. "Considering the day we had I think we did a great job qualifying in the Motorola car."
Ryan Briscoe was the fastest of the Team Penske duo. He will start fifth, while Helio Castroneves will start seventh. "We had a solid qualifying run," said Briscoe. "I think we should be in good shape for tomorrow. I'm still getting some track time out here and trying to get back into things."
Castroneves said he had an engine problem that kept him from working on his qualifying set up. "We were able to get back out there during the second session and work on our race setup," said Castroneves. "I think we could have done a little better in qualifying but we went with a conservative approach rather than take any risks."
The day was full of surprises as Marty Roth qualified tenth, just ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Vitor Meira. Roth's teammate Jay Howard was involved in an accident when he spun in Turn Two on a warm up lap. "I just got loose," said Howard. "The whole time we have been here all of us have been struggling with the understeer. We were taking it out and out. You can take grip out of the back and it looks like we went one step too far."
Howard was not cleared to drive but his status for the race will be reevaluated on Saturday.
Teams transitioning from the Champ Car World Series continued to get acclimated to the Dallara/Honda/Firestone combination. Franck Perera was quickest of the group with a four lap average of 209.230. He will start 15th. "It was good," said Perera. "We were first amongst the transition teams, which is good with the time we had to prepare. I've only done two days of testing here and practice today, so to be top 15 in this field is very satisfying."