Tony Kanaan ...
#17 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force
Tony Kanaan and the #17 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force will start the 86th Indianapolis 500 in the middle of the second row after posting a Pole Day qualifying four-lap average of 230.253 mph. The Indy 500 rookie's four laps were 230.314 mph, 230.381 mph, 230.260 mph, and 230.057 mph. Earlier, he made an aborted qualifying run during which a light drizzle began to fall and dampened the track. Kanaan was not charged with the first qualifying attempt, despite posting three qualifying laps, and after a 39-minute rain delay, he was allowed by IRL officials to re-attempt his initial qualifying run. He is currently the top-qualifying rookie in the field, leaving him in position to capture the American Dairy Association of Indiana's Fastest Rookie of the Year Award.
Felipe Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force will start alongside Kanaan on the inside of the second row after a qualifying run of 230.326 mph today, fourth best on the day. The 27-year-old Giaffone, who started 33rd in his first career Indy 500 last season, was the second driver to attempt a qualifying run today and posted laps of 230.030 mph, 230.392 mph, 230.517 mph, and 230.635 mph. Ironically, the first driver to make an attempt today, Bruno Junqueira, earned the pole with a four-lap average of 231.342 mph. Giaffone, who finished 10th in last year's Indy 500 enroute to 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year honors, hung onto the second spot on this year's grid until Brazilian countryman Raul Boesel posted a 230.613-mph qualifying run some two hours and 15 qualifying attempts later. Later, Robbie Buhl stormed into the second spot with a 231.033-mph qualifying run that bumped Boesel to third and Giaffone to fourth.
Qualifying is slated to resume at noon local time (1 p.m. EDT) Sunday. All positions earned today are essentially locked into place on the starting grid.
"Well, Morris told me all along to be patient. And he's also told me all along to be consistent. Those are the two keys to being successful here at the Speedway. I think we were both of those things today, and it definitely paid off. I tried really hard to be patient all week and I don't think I really, really got it until today. I went out for my qualifying run the first time and it started to rain. I'm thinking, 'Great, I'm out on an oval in the rain. Just my luck.' I radioed to the guys asking what we should do because it was getting wet out there. I'm thinking that because we took the green, if we come in, it might count against us as an attempt. Well, my team manager called me in, and the IRL agreed that it was wet out there and let me have a fair shot at it. I'm very thankful about that. During the rain delay, everyone was worried because I wasn't as fast as was in practice. But I knew I had a good car, so I told everyone to be patient. Imagine that ... me telling everyone else to be patient! So we kept our heads together during the delay, and pieced together very consistent laps during the qualifying run. All four in the 230s. So far so good after my first week ever at the Speedway. This is just a great feeling, to be in the show. I'm just thankful to Hollywood, and to Morris for giving me this opportunity. And especially to my teammate, Felipe, for letting me have his back-up car because I was struggling with my primary car earlier in the week. He had an awesome qualifying run, too. Now we get to take a little bit of time to catch our breath. My guys have been working so very hard. We raced in Japan two weeks ago and came right back here and went to work on the Indy 500. And, to make life even more difficult, the guys have been building me all-new (Lola) cars that we're going to start racing the weekend after the 500 at Milwaukee. But, first things first, a good result in the biggest race in the world here will definitely go a long way to energize this Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing team."
"I'm very proud of the work the guys have put in, and the job the drivers did. Considering the short amount of time we've spent here at the Speedway ... essentially not having run here until last Sunday ... and the little problems we had to overcome during the week, I would have been happy with something somewhere in the top three rows today. A top-10 result was the goal. But both of our cars are in the top five. You have to hand it to the guys on this team, which people have to realize is a very, very new team. This is only our fifth IRL race, and we've only been in business for less than three years. Now, looking back and being as obviously competitive as we are, it would have been nice to be on the front row, or on the pole. But with just one week here to get it done, and the fact that we are so new at this as a team, that might have been a bit optimistic. At any rate, it's great to be here as a team owner and having had the kind of week we did the very first time out. We can feel good about our efforts this week, but then we'll have to come back and focus on finishing the job on race day. It's a long race and anything can happen. I've got two very confident drivers. Right now, we're pretty high on emotion, so let's see if we can carry it on through to the checkered flag. I'm never confident until I see that car come around that last turn on the last lap and make it all the way across the start-finish line!"