IRL: Michigan: Saturday qualifying report

Kanaan Wins First Pole Of Season BROOKLYN, Mich., Saturday, July 31, 2004 -- IRL IndyCar® Series points leader Tony Kanaan won his first MBNA Pole Award of the season, earning the pole position for the Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan ...

Kanaan Wins First Pole Of Season

BROOKLYN, Mich., Saturday, July 31, 2004 -- IRL IndyCar® Series points leader Tony Kanaan won his first MBNA Pole Award of the season, earning the pole position for the Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Kanaan lapped the 2-mile oval in 33.3533 seconds, 215.871 mph in the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

"We had a good run, no doubt about it," Kanaan said. "I knew I had a good car from this morning, and the biggest thing was trying to guess what was going to happen with the conditions. It did change a bit, so I think we were a bit short on gears, but we still managed to put a good lap together. It's going to be a long race, and we'll see what's going to happen."

Helio Castroneves qualified second at 33.500 seconds, 214.925 mph, but will start 20th after Marlboro Team Penske changed the engine in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone following MBNA Pole Qualifying.

Rookie Kosuke Matsuura, who qualified third at 33.5324 seconds, 214.718 mph, moved onto the front row for the first time in his IndyCar Series career.

IndyCar Series Post-Qualifying Quotes:

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We had a good run, no doubt about it. I knew I had a good car from this morning, and the biggest thing was trying to guess what was going to happen with the conditions. It did change a bit, so I think we were a bit short on gears, but we still managed to put a good lap together. The car is very strong. Honda is giving us a very good engine, so I can't complain. This pole feels good for now, but after I leave here, I need to start thinking about the race. It's going to be a long race, and we'll see what's going to happen."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm very happy about it, to be honest. The guys did a hell of a job. Yesterday, we were working a lot on the low downforce, trying to do a race setup and keep up with the rest of the field, and it seems that it wasn't very good. This morning was a phenomenal improvement. Toyota has been working really hard to improve those engines, and it looks like they did. It's tough. It's not just one person. It's a combination of a lot of guys together, putting a lot of bits together. Marlboro Team Penske is a big part of that, too." (About running in packs): "According to the practice yesterday, with everybody running together, I noticed that there might be two groups. It might be very interesting. It seems that everybody was side by side. It will be exciting, for sure."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We did a very good job. We put everything together, and everything is going well. I expected that the speeds would be a bit slower, and we went with a slightly shorter gear. That's why I couldn't pass Helio (Castroneves). I think if I had a longer gear, I would have been able to move up into second place. Starting third is not bad, and hopefully, we will have a good car for the race."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We had a fairly decent setup from the start, and Toyota has made some important gains that have been very positive. All of us have just picked it up another notch, trying anything we can to get back to the level we expect. Qualifying fourth gives the Target team a nice boost after a rough week and a lot of hard work. The key in the race will be to stay with the pack, being good in the draft and being patient."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We had a pretty good qualifying run, but we're not where we need to be yet. We're making gains and Marlboro Team Penske has been giving it their all. I think we're in pretty good shape. The keys to the race will be to stay in touch with the leaders, stay out of trouble and be there for the shootout at the end. Last year, I lost the race by about three feet, so we'll see what happens tomorrow. I really enjoy racing here, and it's close to my hometown, so I've got a lot of family and friends coming out to cheer me on. There should be a lot of side-by-side racing, so it will be a great show for the fans."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It is always important to qualify at the front, but here at Michigan, you need a good race car, and I think we have a good one. You are in traffic for so long here that you need to have a combination of power, handling and aerodynamics. This place is different than Indianapolis because you can never get away from anyone. At Indy, you can get away if your car is better, but here, you get stuck in the pack. It is going to be a big chess game out there until the end. There will be room for three wide, but I'm not sure you can go four wide all of the time. I'm sure some guys will try it. We ran a lot in traffic and drafting on Friday, so I am pretty pleased with how the car feels. (Teammate) Buddy (Rice) and I have run side by side a lot, and we know each other out there. I think we'll be right in the fight on Sunday."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing