Kanaan Claims Indy Pole for Honda Led by Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan, Honda drivers once again prevailed in Pole Day qualifying for the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500, with the defending IndyCar Series...
Kanaan Claims Indy Pole for Honda
Led by Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan, Honda drivers once again prevailed in Pole Day qualifying for the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500, with the defending IndyCar Series champion claiming his first '500' pole in his fourth attempt. In previous appearances at Indianapolis, Kanaan qualified fifth in both 2002 and 2004, and second in 2003. Scott Sharp of Delphi Fernandez Racing made it two Hondas on the first row by qualifying third, his first front-row Indy start since qualifying on the pole in 2001.
After a day's delay due to rain, Sharp was the first one to make a run when qualifying began on Sunday. His four-lap average speed of 227.126 would be good enough for third. Kanaan was the third driver to qualify, then had to wait throughout the afternoon as driver after driver took his or her shot at his speed of 227.566, only to come up short of the mark.
Following Kanaan and Sharp, four more Honda drivers qualified in the first three rows, giving the manufacturer six of the top nine starting positions for the May 29 race. Outstanding rookie Danica Patrick will start on the inside of the second row with a qualifying average of 227.004 mph, with Dario Franchitti posting a speed of 226.873 mph in a second Andretti Green entry, good for the sixth starting spot.
Patrick's Rahal Letterman Racing teammate, Vitor Meira, will start on the inside of the third row after recording a qualifying speed of 226.848 mph, with Super Aguri Fernandez Racing's Kosuke Matsuura alongside after a run of 226.397.
Bruno Junqueira qualified his Newman/Haas Racing Honda on the outside of the fourth row in 12th, with owner/driver Adrian Fernandez 14th and reigning Champ Car title holder Sebastien Bourdais 15th.
Honda drivers comprise all of sixth row, led by current points leader Dan Wheldon, who already has won three of the four events this year. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Roger Yasukawa and Bryan Herta fill out the row in 17th and 18th. Yasukawa's teammate, rookie Jeff Bucknum, was the final qualifier today and will start his first '500' from the 21st position.
The only Honda-powered driver not to make a qualifying run Sunday was defending race champion Buddy Rice, who is not yet cleared to drive by the Speedway medical staff after suffering back contusions and a concussion in a Turn Two crash on Wednesday. Rice is expected to return to driving duties when practice resumes on May 18 prior to the second and final weekend of qualifying May 21-22.
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) Indianapolis 500 pole qualifier: "We drew a pretty early [qualifying] number, so I had to wait all day. It was a long day, but I think it was good for the fans, and that's why we're here. The car felt good in practice this morning We had the fastest car today, but that isn't necessarily the fastest race car. But tomorrow morning we start working on the race setup and we'll keep working when we get back on track [for practice] on Wednesday. I finished third here two years ago, and second last year. Hopefully, we'll get the 'big one' for the team in two weeks."
Scott Sharp (#8 Delphi Fernandez Racing Honda) qualified third: "I'm ecstatic. We had run some speeds during practice in the low 226's [mph]. For us to come back out in qualifying trim this morning and post our best time of the month and back it up with a four-lap average of 227, that is peaking at the right time. A great job by Chris [Finch], my engineer, and the whole Delphi Fernandez team. As I have said all month, I am just ecstatic to be with this team. I am excited for qualifying but I know that this is a team that focuses much more on the race than they do on qualifying. To end up at the front is tremendous. Now it is a matter of letting the team do what they do best, and me staying out of trouble and being there for the final run for the flag."