IRL: Nashville: Series qualifying report

DIXON TAKES TOP SPOT AT NASHVILLE GLADEVILLE, Tenn., Friday, July 13, 2007 -- Scott Dixon earned his eighth career AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award, winning the top spot for Saturday's Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway. The Target...

DIXON TAKES TOP SPOT AT NASHVILLE

GLADEVILLE, Tenn., Friday, July 13, 2007 -- Scott Dixon earned his eighth career AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award, winning the top spot for Saturday's Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.

The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver lapped the 1.3-mile, concrete oval in 22.8947 seconds, 204.414 mph in his No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara.

Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti, who holds a 47-point lead over Dixon in the standings, will start second. Franchitti's best qualifying lap was 22.9555 seconds, 203.873 mph.

Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr., whose post-race confrontation July 8 at Watkins Glen led to a scuffle in pit lane, will start side-by-side in Row 2.

Dan Wheldon and Helio Castroneves comprise Row 3, while Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Jeff Simmons and Scott Sharp round out the top 10.

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DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

SAMAX Motorsport and driver Milka Duno have withdrawn from this weekend's event following an accident during private testing at Nashville Superspeedway on July 12. Duno's #23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone spun in Turn 4 and made contact with the SAFER Barrier. She was checked and released from the infield care center and is cleared to drive.

MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "This race track is really bumpy and not easy. (Thursday), the car had stiffer springs and the bumps in Turn 4 were more of a challenge than yesterday. I am so disappointed because I was having the best laps of the year with my times and handling of the car. In an IndyCar you can only have one style of driving, one feeling. It's not like prototype driving. But, I'm glad I had the help of Tomas (Enge) and was able to learn from him because I know that he had been having good lap times on the track. During my laps on Wednesday I was experiencing the same feelings Tomas had -- especially in the corners. I have learned so much from him in such a short time. His observations have been invaluable in the setup of the CITGO Racing car."

PETER BARON (Principal, SAMAX Motorsport): "Our best race weekends in the IndyCar Series have been Kansas and Indianapolis where we had multiple test days before the event. With this being our first year in the series, it's important to get as much testing as possible at each track prior to the events. We had a great day on Wednesday and it's unfortunate we had a setback (Thursday)."

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Five Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the Firestone Indy 200: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005), Sam Hornish Jr. (2006) and Dario Franchitti (2007).

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Five IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the Firestone Indy 200: Scott Sharp (1996 co-champion), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002, 2006), Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005).

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Drivers entered in the Firestone Indy 200 have combined for 82 IndyCar Series victories, 78 IndyCar Series pole positions and 1,203 IndyCar Series starts.

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AAMCO TRANSMISSIONS POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award winner): "We had to wait a little longer than we thought we would, but the car has been fast all weekend. It's good for what we need. We need to put the pressure on the AGR (Andretti Green Racing) guys anytime we can, leading sessions and leading qualifying. Hopefully, we have a good car in the race tomorrow. It's going to be tough to hold on. We're going to just have to see. It's going to be a good race tomorrow. It's been very difficult to pass, tougher than we've had in the past, so we'll have to see how that plays out. Once it cools off at night time, it might open up the second groove and give people the opportunity to pass."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "It wasn't a bad day. We tested here a few weeks ago. We weren't happy in testing. We didn't really learn much because the weather wasn't that great. I think the Canadian Club car is pretty good but as usual here, it's going to be very difficult to pass. You might have to work someone for 10, 15 laps to make a pass. We did one qualifying (simulation) in the first session then made a couple small changes. It seemed to work. We're quite happy with that. We're starting from the front row so we'll see what tomorrow will bring."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "I think I got an OK lap out of the Team 7-Eleven car today. We did what we expected to, and I don't think I had anything left in the car. We set a goal for qualifying, and we reached it. The two guys starting in front of me (Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti) are both ahead of me in the championship, so my goal tomorrow is to finish ahead of those guys and hopefully win the race."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I think we've got a much better race car than what we showed in qualifying. It's not exactly where we wanted to start, but we're in the top five, which is decent. We should definitely be in good shape for tomorrow. The big thing for us will be to stay patient and out of trouble during the race. If we can do that, I think we should be able to bring the Team Penske car home in a good position."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "We weren't very happy with the Team Penske car during practice today. Shortly before qualifying, we found something in the gearbox that we thought might be causing our problem. Instead of rushing to get it fixed, go through tech and get into the qualifying line, we decided to pull out of line, take our time, go last and take our chances with one qualifying lap. Fortunately, we ran our best lap of the day in qualifying and kept our string of consecutive top-10 starts alive. I can't say enough about the Team Penske crew. nther Racing, qualified fourth): "I had a hard time deciding the setup this morning so the time I got was the best I could do at this point. This is my first time running on the concrete track and it was so bumpy. I will be starting from the outside of row 2 so I will do my best to havThey worked really hard today to get my car the way it needed to be for qualifying, and hopefully, I'll be able to pay them back with a solid finish tomorrow. After the bad luck we've had, we're looking to turn things around in a major way, and I can't think of a better place to do it than Nashville."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "The run was pretty good. The car felt dialed in. It's just unfortunate that we didn't go any faster with the Motorola car. It's driving me crazy that we go into qualifying and we don't go faster. I have no explanation as to why. I need some clear answers on this so it doesn't happen again."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "The qualifying run seemed alright, but I think the track got a little faster as the session went on, so it was definitely a disadvantage for the NYSE car to have to qualify early. I'm not real happy with where we are starting but I proved last year that you can pass on this track so we'll see."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "The car was pretty good. I think that's a decent time for us and gives us a starting spot in the upper half of the field, which is a key because I am not sure how much passing we'll be able to do here tomorrow. The Team Ethanol guys did a great job setting up the car, and I think we could have a good day on Saturday."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Patron Sharp Rahal Letterman Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 10th): "The run was OK. The Patron Rahal Letterman team has been working very hard today making a lot of changes and dialing the car in well for us. We freed the car up a little and it felt good. I think we'll have a real good car tomorrow. We can get up right behind guys and we're still pretty stable, so hopefully that will stay that way tomorrow and we can go to the front."

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE: (all times local):
6:30 p.m. Firestone Indy 200 (200 laps/266 miles) ESPN & IMS Radio Network (live)

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The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Firestone Indy 200 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on July 14 at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be televised live by ESPN and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Sunbelt Rentals 100 on July 14 at Nashville Superspeedwat. The race will be televised by ESPN2 at 5 p.m. on July 18. ESPN2's coverage of the Corning Twin 100s will be broadcast at 5:30 p.m. on July 12.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing