IRL: Michigan: AGR, Wheldon Saturday report

BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 31, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon posted a best lap of 213.821 miles per hour in qualifying today to lock-in the eighth starting position for tomorrow's running of the Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan ...

BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 31, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon posted a best lap of 213.821 miles per hour in qualifying today to lock-in the eighth starting position for tomorrow's running of the Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Wheldon, who is a two-time Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series race winner this season, was initially credited with the ninth starting spot for the 200-lap event, but moved forward one position on the grid as the result of an engine change by Helio Castroneves, who qualified second and will now start 21st by IRL rules.

Wheldon, who drove to five top-three finishes in the first six races this year in the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, heads into tomorrow's event sitting third in the IndyCar Series standings and is 81 points from the top spot, which is occupied by his teammate, Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan. He trails second-place Buddy Rice by just 17 markers.

Kanaan won his first pole position of the 2004 season Saturday with a speed of 215.871 miles per hour. He will start alongside Kosuke Matsuura, who qualified at 214.718 miles per hour. Scott Dixon (214.328) will start third, followed by Sam Hornish Jr. (214.179) and Vitor Meira (214.089).

Kanaan's run gave Andretti Green Racing its fourth pole of the 2004 season and seventh pole since joining the IRL in 2003. Kanaan has four of those poles, Wheldon has two and Dario Franchitti one. The team has won six of the nine races run this season, including the two won by Wheldon at Twin Ring Motegi and Richmond International Raceway.

The Michigan Indy 400 - Round 10 of the 2004 IndyCar Series season - is set to go green Sunday at 3:25 p.m. (EDT) with ABC Sports providing live coverage beginning at 3 p.m.

Dan Wheldon, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"Our run wasn't too bad. I'm a little disappointed to not have won the pole, but I'm happy for my teammate (Tony Kanaan). The important thing is that I know we have a very good race car in the Klein Tools/Jim Beam machine, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. All four of the Andretti Green Racing cars have gotten together and are all going to be very competitive tomorrow."

Tony Cotman, Team Manager, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"We're a little disappointed to be as far off pole as we are, but we weren't that worried about qualifying. Our number one goal this weekend was to get the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car as good as we could get it for the race. We've focused primarily on that and hopefully we've achieved our goal. I feel pretty good about it. The race is going to come down to the last 20 laps, no matter what. As long as we've got a good race car we should be there at the end."

-AGR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.