Homestead: Vision Racing qualifying report

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Ed Carpenter has earned a first-ever front row qualifying spot for not only himself, but his team and the Menards/Vision Racing No. 20 Dallara/Honda/Firestone in preparation for the 2008 IndyCar Series season-opening GAINSCO...

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Ed Carpenter has earned a first-ever front row qualifying spot for not only himself, but his team and the Menards/Vision Racing No. 20 Dallara/Honda/Firestone in preparation for the 2008 IndyCar Series season-opening GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Just behind Carpenter, and also in a career-best starting position is team driver A.J. Foyt IV in the Vision Racing No. 2 Dallara/Honda/Firestone machine.

The second and third place starts are both driver and team bests as well as an impressive start to the season.

Carpenter, the final qualifier of the evening, looked to take the pole from Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but just missed it on his final two qualifying laps as a result of the new four-lap average format. Carpenter's four-lap average was 213.311 mph while Dixon clocked in at 213.341 mph.

It is fitting that Carpenter puts the team on the front row for the first time as he has been with Vision Racing since the team's inception in 2005. Today Carpenter also made team history by piloting the debut of the No. 20 day-glo yellow, Menards sponsored machine.

Joining Menards on the car this off-season is CardioChek, DIRECTV, MUUD Coffee and NÜSSLI Group. The Menards sponsorship also brings the likes of Johns Manville, Energizer, Moen, Peak Antifreeze, Pittsburgh Paints, Sylvania, SuperClean and Quaker State.

Foyt looked to secure the second spot just moments before Carpenter set out for his run as he put in a four-lap average of 212.211 mph. He held on to the front row spot for only a few minutes before Carpenter nudged him to third.

The qualifying effort shows the preparation, research, development and attention to detail that the crew has put into to the cars over the off-season. Vision Racing completed an unprecedented amount of off-season development to improve their results in 2008 and the fruits of the team's labor is already showing up. Now the focus is on following through in tomorrow night's race.

Currently the team's best finish on an oval is third scored by Tomas Scheckter at The Milwaukee Mile in 2006 and again last season by Foyt at Kentucky Speedway.

Last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Vision Racing scored two top 10 finishes with Carpenter leading the way in sixth place and Scheckter in eighth. Foyt finished 18th in last year's race after getting caught up in an unavoidable accident. Carpenter's sixth place run is the team's best finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway in four seasons, but with a front row starting spot, that very well could change.

On qualifying:

"I am not going to lie, our times surprised me. I knew we could run in the 212's, but to turn 213s was surprising. As the run was going on, I was thinking that I couldn't remember exactly what Scott (Dixon) ran, but I know that we've got to be close or even ahead of him and I think we just missed it on the last lap. Either way, this team did such a good job all off-season. Larry Curry did some great things with some of the moves we made and the whole team from top to bottom put in their time over the winter and it shows. Now we just have to keep up the work and do a good job tomorrow night and the rest of the season."

"It's a heck of a way to start the season. The guys put in a lot of work this off-season and it showed in qualifying and I think it will show tomorrow night for the race. It's a good for our new sponsors in Menards, Johns Manville, DIRECTV and CardioChek and it's good to give them a good first night. Today was the first day anyone has seen our yellow car on track and I think we did a good job in it's debut."

On qualifying: "It's unbelievable. The crew has just done a great job. I am completely shocked. I knew we had a strong car, but I didn't know if we could be that strong. With the new format in qualifying and seeing a couple of the guys before us crash, I was kind of nervous, but we had a great car like we've had all day so I'm really excited about it. It's just great for the team and really shows the work we've put in this off-season."

-credit: vr

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Series INDYCAR