Indy 500: Series Pole Day report, part 2

Continued from part 1 Indianapolis 500 veteran Jimmy Kite was walking Gasoline Alley today, looking for a ride for the 92nd Indianapolis 500. Kite has made five "500" starts between 1998-2005. Kite qualified for the 2007 Indianapolis 500 on ...

Continued from part 1

Indianapolis 500 veteran Jimmy Kite was walking Gasoline Alley today, looking for a ride for the 92nd Indianapolis 500. Kite has made five "500" starts between 1998-2005.

Kite qualified for the 2007 Indianapolis 500 on Third Day Qualifying in a PDM Racing car but was bumped from the field on Bump Day.

JIMMY KITE:

"Walking around like I always do on Pole Day. I won't say anything is opening up; I will say that there's potential out there. Whether it plays out or not, I guess we'll know by 6 o'clock next Sunday. It's just a normal pole weekend for me. I never seem to have anything working, but I've got another three or four days to see if something materializes. We'll see. I don't think you're really going to see anybody pulling out second cars to run. There's still some teams that don't have stuff totally put together. There's some of them that are still going to end up being here. You've got some of these teams that might be struggling a bit and might want to put a veteran in it and see if they can get a little more speed out of the car. There's several options, and like I said. Next week is Bump Week at Indy, and it's a fun week. It's my exciting week. I t's normally when I clock in and see how it goes, so we'll see how it plays out. It's always good to be here and being able to say that I've run a couple of '500s' and I've done this, and as it gets closer to 6 o'clock on Sunday, with as many cars as it seems like they're going to have trying to make attempts, there's going to be a couple of teams struggling to find speed. And whether they just bite the bullet and decide not to make the show or whether they put somebody in it, whether it's myself or Alex Barron or Jaques Lazier, or whoever it is, I've got rides here in the past getting in cars that weren't up to speed, so maybe it will play out again this year. We'll see."

***

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team co-owner Paul Newman is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in several years.

PAUL NEWMAN:

"(Reunification) was absolutely necessary for both groups. It's tragic that it didn't happen sooner, but it's good that it at least happened when it did. I think it's going to be a great boost for both groups. It's good to be back at Indianapolis. It brings back a lot of fond memories. We've won eight championships and come in second twice at Indianapolis but never won the '500.' It's wonderful to be running against Roger (Penske) and Bobby (Rahal) and Michael (Andretti) and all those guys. It's comfortable. My favorite tradition was that it took a whole month. Indy started at the first of May, and you had your reservation at the (Speedway) motel. If you wanted (the room) for two days, you took it for the whole month or you wouldn't get it, and we're going to work hard to ge t it back to that."

***

PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE AWARD PRESENTED BY AUTOZONE POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

* Scott Dixon won the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone and its $100,000 prize.

* Dan Wheldon and Ryan Briscoe qualified on the PEAK Front Row and earned $25,000 and $10,000, respectively.

* Camping World presented $10,000 to Ricky Davis, chief mechanic on Scott Dixons's No. 9 pole-winning car.

* Toro presented a tractor to Target Chip Ganassi Racing for winning the pole.

* This is Dixon's 11th career IndyCar Series pole and his third this season. He also won the pole at at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Kansas Speedway.

* This is Dixon's first pole at the Indianapolis 500. His previous best was fourth in 2003, 2006 and 2007.

* This is Target Chip Ganassi Racing's 17th pole in the IndyCar Series and its third in 2008. This is the team's third pole at Indianapolis. Bruno Junqueira won the pole for the team in 2002, and Arie Luyendyk won the pole in 1993.

* Dan Wheldon tied his best qualifying effort at the Indianapolis 500 He also qualified second in 2004.

* This is the first time teammates have qualified 1-2 for the Indianapolis 500 since Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves in 2006.

* Ryan Briscoe earned his best starting position at the Indianapolis 500. He qualified fifth last year with Luczo Dragon Racing. Briscoe's best start this season was third at Homestead-Miami.

* This is the fourth consecutive season that a Team Penske driver has qualified on the front row for the Indianapolis 500.

* Hideki Mutoh is the highest-qualifying rookie in the field (ninth). Marco Andretti qualified ninth as a rookie in 2006, the last time a rookie qualified in the top 10 at Indianapolis.

* There were 23 successful qualifying attempts today and eight unsuccessful attempts.

* Helio Castroneves, who is celebrating his 33rd birthday today, qualified in the top five for the fourth consecutive year. He qualified fourth.

* Danica Patrick has qualified in the top 10 for all four of her Indianapolis 500s. She qualified fifth today.

* Tony Kanaan qualified sixth, his first time outside of the top five in his seven years at the Indianapolis 500. He has started on the pole once, started second twice and fifth three times.

* Marco Andretti earned his best Indianapolis 500 starting position, seventh. He has started ninth in each of the last two seasons.

* Vitor Meira qualified in the top 10 for the fourth time in six Indianapolis 500s. His eighth-place starting position is his best qualifying effort since starting eighth at Watkins Glen last season.

* Ed Carpenter earned his best starting position for the Indianapolis 500, 10th. In four previous races, his best start was 12th in 2006. Carpenter has qualified in the top 10 in three consecutive IndyCar Series races.

* Tomas Scheckter qualified 11th at the Indianapolis 500 for the third time in his career. In six previous 500s, Scheckter has started 10th three times, 11th twice and 12th once.

* Andretti Green Racing placed its four cars in the top nine starting positions. Last year, the team also had four cars in the top nine, and five cars in the top 11.

***

PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE PRESENTED BY AUTOZONE QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 1st):

"All the time that they put in back at the workshop and the guys that a lot of time you don't even see at the track, it's a lot of effort from them. And from me a lot of thanks goes to them. I think they're the guys that definitely helped us along the way and we just put the pieces together today and came away with it. But for me, I think amongst the drivers it means a lot. If you talk to any of the drivers out there, they know how on the limit you are, and for a general person I don't think that they realize that stuff. So, I think between the small group of drivers and obviously people like Chip (Ganassi) that have raced cars before, it means a lot to them just because you're definitely right on the limit and giving it your all. It's definitely right at the top of accomplishments that I've done."

DAN WHELDON (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 2nd):

"It was just a lot of hard work and effort by everybody at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and that is a relatively good run."

(You have never started on the pole here. How important would that be for you?): "The Indianapolis 500 is the biggest race in the world, and I would certainly take the race win over the pole, but, at the end of the day, it is something to be proud of. I have been fortune enough to win a championship and a Indianapolis 500, I won Honda's first race in Japan, so the pole would be nice, but I am not taking the pole if it takes away from the race stuff. I would much rather win the race."

(Do you think you got everything out of the car?): "I don't think we got everything, but the car was definitely fast. The guys have worked really hard to give Sc ott (Dixon) and I really fast cars. We have been close to pole in the past at Indianapolis, leading into Pole Day, but when it has become Pole Day we have not been so competitive. It is good to show we are competitive."

(Is it any sweeter that you bumped Danica Patrick from the pole?): "For my boss it is absolutely sweeter. He likes it when we do that; he likes the story lines. It is really competitive this month. Forget the No. 7, just group everybody together. It's really, really tight. So it is good the guys have worked hard and given us good cars, but at the end of the day, the pole would be nice, but it is the race win to have to aim for."

RYAN BRISCOE (#6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 3rd):

(On qualifying on the pole, only to fall to second to Scott Dixon minutes after): "I turned around, and Dixon was taking (the pole) away from me. Aside from that, I thought I had a really good run. The car was balanced really well for the downforce level we trimmed out to, and it was a solid gain, for sure. Dixon put out a pretty quick time there, so we have a little bit of work to do. From what I did this morning, I'm happy with the gains we made in that second run, and I guess now we'll just look at everything closely and see if we can get any more speed out of the car. We need to see what we can do to get those extra tenths of a mile an hour out of it to get the pole."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (#3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 4th):

"We don't know why we slowed down. I don't know. This is what it's all about: Racing to be on the top, and we didn't get it. Obviously, we're not going to be stupid and do something crazy, but now we know what we can do and we're going to go to the limit. We know we can do it and we are just a little off, but we'll see."

(About what it means to win the pole at Indianapolis): "So many things, really. First of all, you're number one. You beat everybody. Second, it's Indianapolis, you know. I mean, for it to be like a race to get on the pole, you're like, you're the man. It's cool to be up there and, again, this is a magic place. This adrenaline is like new every time you do this, and it's great to see the fans, everybody over h ere watching an exciting qualifying. That's why they make qualifying until 6 o'clock, because you're going to see people going out until the last minute. To win the race, it's consistency and being at the right place at the right time so to be on the pole position, you have to be consistent for four full laps. Trust me, four laps seems like nothing, but trust me, you're running on the limit. It's great to be here with the fans and the media and this is a great place. If you got to win one race, this is the one. It feels great. It's the first time after, what, the first day that we actually have a clean day. No rain, no wet, so right now, it's just a matter of composure. Look at my face, this is amazing, man. I always want to try again unless the number three is on the number one, I always want to try again. I'm having a great time. It's a lot of fun, not only for myself, but for the fans, for the mechanics for the d rivers. It's pure adrenaline."

(After qualifying! ended): "Well, unfortunately, we tried everything we could, and there's days that you realized that it's better to be brave than to be stupid. We got to a point where there's not much we could do and we realized the Ganassi guys were better, and the good news is that this is just the pole position and the race is a big thing. And we're going to work next week for that. My second (win) was from 13th, so my team worked extremely hard and I'm glad that we were, at least, up there. Now we'll focus on the race. Pole position is, for a driver, for me, it's everything in that day to be the number one and beating everybody. Sometimes people don't realize, 'Come on, second, third, you can win from there.' Yes, but that day you want to be the fastest guy, especially being there once, or twice. But this situation can not drop you or make you sad or down. Unfortunately, we didn't have the car. We tried everything we could, and it is what it is. The race, you have a lot of fact ors. In the race, there are a lot of variables, but here you basically are going four laps to the limit. It's hard. It's very difficult. That's why it's so mentally consuming, and the adrenaline is rushed. If you do a good time, you're like right there. You don't think you can do any more, and you try a little bit more in the car. So there is a lot of factors in qualifying when you're running the limit. Now, in the race, it's more traffic and pit stops and things like that. Put yourself in the position and it depends on a yellow, so it's different, but it's fun. Both are very fun."

DANICA PATRICK (#7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth):

"I was a little bit worried going in (to the qualifying run) just wondering what was going to come of it because I hadn't done a full qualifying simulation. So that was a little bit intimidating. We obviously have a pretty quick car. It was nice to start off qualifying like this. My run wasn't perfect and the last two laps fell off for a reason, and we need to fix that. There's more speed in this car, unfortunately and fortunately. I'd love to say that this is the end of the road for qualifying for today but I don't think it is. It's called happy hour because everybody goes quicker. It's going to be about keeping an eye on the weather, keeping your car balanced and getting in line at the right time. It's good so far, though."

(Do you go into qualifying any differen tly now that you've had a win?): "No, I still need to go out there and be a great driver and keep everyone happy, which mostly is myself. I still do all the same things, it's just nice to say I have a win."

TONY KANAAN (#11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth):

(About the qualifying run): "So far, so good. We're not in the position that we wanted to be, but we're inside the top 11, which is the right place to be right now. It was a decent run, very consistent. We had a problem this morning, and I ended up copying Marco's and Danica's setup, and I need to thank both of them for that. People think that I keep teaching them all the time, but this is what happens sometimes, so I need to thank them for that."

MARCO ANDRETTI (#26 Team Indiana Jones presented by Blockbuster Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 7th):

"It was a pretty easy four laps. That's why we're a bit disappointed with the speed. I think we need to get back and analyze things to see how we can improve."

(About the difference between last year and this year): "Nothing. Maybe a little bit of luck. There were a couple driver errors, which is a bummer for points. There is no confidence lost. Indianapolis is a championship of its own, so we'll give it a go."

(About car handling): "Downforce was pretty much there as far as trimming. We really need to figure it out, because as far as the team I'm pretty much the lowest."

VITOR MEIRA (#4 Delphi National Guard Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 8th):

"I think the Delphi/National Guard car has a little more in it, but our goal is to stay top 11. We are right were we thought we would be. We are happy mainly because we struggled so much last year. It was a very tough month for us. I mentioned several times that I got five years older last May, so it's the beginning of the turnaround for us. Now we have very good partners in Delphi and National Guard, so we can see the light."

(On what has changed since last year): "Our new partners allow us to go search for personnel or test days. For the first time in two years that I have been here at Panther, we went to the wind tunnel. Compared to a Penske or a Ganassi that has their programs 24/7, that makes a big difference. We only had four days this year, but we are catching up. It's those smal l things that don't really look like much, but at a place like here it makes a difference."

HIDEKI MUTOH (#27 Formula Dream Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 9th):

(About first experience qualifying at Indianapolis): "It was awesome."

(What kind of advise did you get from your teammates about qualifying?): "Just flat out for four laps."

(Do you enjoy this qualifying format?): "Just try to finish in the top 11; that is my goal for today."

(How much have learned from your teammates this month?): "We have been different with setup on the car, so it is hard to say. They tell me how to go, where to turn into the corner, that kind of thing. That was very helpful."

ED CARPENTER (#20 Menards/Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 10th):

"It's not bad. I kind of felt like coming into today that we were going to have to be over 224 to feel good about staying in the top 11. I think it is slowing down for the most part. We might be OK. You just don't know what other guys are going to do. You don't know who is going to get bumped out. I think I can go faster if I have to. I really don't want to (laughter). If I have to go back to work today, then I'll be ready to do it."

(About pulling out of the qualifying line): "Yeah, we did. I wasn't very happy. I think I could have probably gone a little faster in my original spot because the wind picked up. One of the mechanics saw something on the rear bar. It was more of a safety thing. I probably could have ran. At that point in the day, we decided to err on the side of caution and go to the back of the line and get it fixed right. When I looked upset, that was why. We practiced at 9 this morning, so as soon as practice is over, you're sitting on pins and needles waiting to go out. I'm the next car out, and they come on the radio saying we had to pull out of line. I'm like, 'What?' It is not what you wanted to hear. You're charged up ready to go, so it is a pretty big letdown. It wasn't that I was angry. I just needed to go back, sit in the office and start the whole mental process over."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (#12 Luczo Dragon Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 11th):

"I'm just so happy. To be honest, it feels like I've got the pole just to survive that top 11. We just struggle and struggled. Every time that car went out, it went a bit slower and slower. Then we saw people behind us coming. That lap I was completely sideways in (Turn) 3. I thought I was going the same way as Ryan (Hunter-Reay). Thankfully he looks like he'll be OK. I had a big save in (Turn) 3 on the second lap. On the third lap going into (Turn) 3 was, to say, a little bit exciting. Just very thankful that we made it into the top 11."

(A lot of people talked about the fast laps would be at the end of the day. But the lap times fell throughout the day. Speeds went down instead of going up. Why was that?): "The temperature cooled down and was good. But the problem was the wi nd. The wind increased. When we are running such low downforce on the car. Even going down the straight in the car, it would shove left and right, moving all about. Really, you are sometimes dictated by where the wind goes. I think that is what you were really seeing is that with that first lap being good. Is that with that first lap, the tires are good. They can avoid some of the wind. Then the wind starts throwing the car around. Then the times just drop off and drop off."

***

A total of 37 cars are currently at the Speedway and have passed technical inspection. Thirty-four drivers have been on the track to date and have turned 5,205 laps this month. Will Power turned 50 laps today and has turned 286 laps this month, most of any driver. A total of 96 IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers have passed physicals at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center.

***

SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

8 a.m. Public Gates Open

10:15-11:15 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (All cars)

Noon-6 p.m. Second Day Qualifying

6:15 p.m. Third Day Qualifying Draw

***

The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (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 continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 23 at Indianapolis. It will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on May 23 on ESPN2.

-credit: indycar

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Bruno Junqueira , Jimmy Kite , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Paul Newman , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Will Power , Hideki Mutoh , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Jaques Lazier , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dragon Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing