IRL: Homestead: Qualifying report

HORNISH SCORES MARLBORO POLE AWARD AT HOMESTEAD HOMESTEAD, Fla., Saturday, March 25, 2006 -- Marlboro Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. set a track record as he claimed the Marlboro Pole Award for the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at ...

HORNISH SCORES MARLBORO POLE AWARD AT HOMESTEAD

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Saturday, March 25, 2006 -- Marlboro Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. set a track record as he claimed the Marlboro Pole Award for the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hornish's lap of 24.4625 seconds, 218.539 mph bettered Buddy Rice's 2004 record lap by almost two-tenths of a second. Hornish will share the front row with his teammate, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves (218.087 mph). Danica Patrick (216.798 mph) and Scott Dixon (216.769) will start on the second row.

"We were really excited after this morning's session. The past couple of days we've been out here, we've been up towards the top of the speed charts. We were trying to be a little bit conservative and make sure that we had good race set up. When it came time for qualifying, we put as little downforce as we could on it and went out there and tried to hold on to it. After Helio's lap this morning, I thought for sure he was the guy that would be tough to beat. We had just enough to get him and that's all that matters. We're really happy that Marlboro Team Penske is 1-2."

POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Marlboro Pole Award winner): "We were really excited after this morning's session. The past couple of days we've been out here, we've been up towards the top of the speed charts. We were trying to be a little bit conservative and make sure that we had good race set up. When it came time for qualifying, we put as little downforce as we could on it and went out there and tried to hold on to it. After Helio's lap this morning, I thought for sure he was the guy that would be tough to beat. We had just enough to get him and that's all that matters. We're really happy that Marlboro Team Penske is 1-2."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "We had a good morning session, and we made some changes for qualifying. We're looking good, and we're happy with the car. We knew what Sam had, and we went a little conservative, and we fell just a little short. But good for Sam, and good for the team. We've worked really hard since the open test here, and I think we'll be strong tomorrow. I think Sam will too. Marlboro Team Penske will be strong tomorrow."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Panoz/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "The Argent Mortgage Honda felt pretty good in qualifying, which is something I haven't been able to say at all this weekend. I guess my engineer Ray [Leto] must have some magic in him because he solved most of the problems from this morning. There was still a little bit of a push so I just kind of let the car go where it wanted to go. Because there was a push in the car, the front end of the car wasn't getting around the corner as well as I would have liked. Instead of fighting it and adding more understeer, I just kind of let it drift to where it wanted to go. More than anything, I am a little bit relieved after this run, especially after the problems we had yesterday. A run like this helps you gain the confidence you need to keep your foot down. All we have focused on was getting the car to be balanced and to be at the point where I can really push the car hard and be confident in it."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I feel pretty good about the run. The car was really comfortable, and we had no issues. I think our race speed will be much better, and I feel somewhat more confident going into this first race of the season than we did in a few races last year. The car is really good and while in the past we were chasing speed, now were just going to work on making the car comfortable to drive for the race."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "We never worked on our qualifying car in practice. I've got to thank Dario (Franchitti) and my engineers because Dario did some work this morning on the qualifying setup while I worked on race setup in the Team 7-Eleven car. That's the secret of this team. We're not as dominant as we were last year, but we're still going to work together and tomorrow we're gonna go for it."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "We're not focused too much on qualifying. Last year, we had cars that could get from the back to the front pretty quick. We're going to make the best of what we've got. The Klein Tool/Jim Beam car was good in race trim this morning, so we'll see what we've got tomorrow. It's all about tomorrow and having a car that will work for 200 laps around here."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "The Target team has given me a really good race car and we've worked on that all weekend long. We had just a bit too much downforce for qualifying. We're not too worried about it because you don't get points for qualifying. We know we've got a strong package and I'm looking forward to defending my win here and start the season off on the right foot."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 10th): "We actually were better than we expected. This morning, I was very happy with it. We were running by ourselves, and we were doing some decent speeds. We made a slight change for the weather and the car's right there. I just pushed a little bit on the second lap and that was a shame. I'm very happy. I was expecting to finish in the top 10, but not start there."

***

The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast is also carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition opens with the Miami 100 at 12:30 p.m. on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. on March 31 by ESPN2.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing