IRL: Sears Point: Chip Ganassi Racing qualifying report

Dixon Earns Pole Position for Target at Sonoma Sonoma, CA, Saturday, August 26, 2006--Target Chip Ganassi Racing earned an all important pole position for Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma as Scott Dixon set the fastest time (106.507 mph/ 1...

Dixon Earns Pole Position for Target at Sonoma

Sonoma, CA, Saturday, August 26, 2006--Target Chip Ganassi Racing earned an all important pole position for Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma as Scott Dixon set the fastest time (106.507 mph/ 1 min 17.7413 seconds), in IndyCar Qualifying's "Firestone Fast Six" shootout on the 2.26-mile Infineon Raceway road circuit. Teammate Dan Wheldon will start on the outside of row 3 for the 80 lap affair after qualifying sixth (106.708 mph /1:17.5946 seconds).

Just two races remain in the 2006 IndyCar season as the Target Team's battle against the Penske drivers for the Championship title reaches a feverish pitch with Wheldon and Dixon third and fourth respectively in the points standing behind their nemeses and just a 33 point differential between the four drivers.

"I expect this race to make a big difference in the championship," said Dixon, who earned his sixth IndyCar career pole position, (first on a road course) and, after posting two wins at Watkins Glen and a second place finish on the streets of St.Pete, is considered the favorite for another road course win. "This weekend, we've been trying to put as much pressure as possible on both Penske cars. So far, we've done what we've needed to do. This is a hard place to pass and it's hard to get a good run, so it's super important to start up front.

The no.9 Target Honda Panoz was fifth quick after single-car qualifying but quickly jumped to the top of the timing chart in the 10-minute top-six shootout to earn Dixon his first pole position of the year and the Target team's third this season.

"I think we could have gone a lot quicker on the single lap," added Dixon, "but I just tried to get into the top six. I did what I needed to do during the final session with the six cars."

Dan Wheldon also qualified for the shootout but retained his sixth place spot for the start.

"Although it's a reasonable starting position, I would have liked to have moved up a bit in the top six but we had some understeer that slowed me up a bit." said Wheldon who has 11 top-ten starts this season. "It's great for the Target team to be starting from the pole with Scott Dixon. It's all about us putting the pressure on the Penskes here and getting as many points as we can. Strategy will be really important here to move us up and the pitstops take on more importance than usual. We'll be looking for every opportunity to make up some ground on the track and in the points."

Adding to the team's advantage of starting from the top spot on the grid of a road course that is notoriously very difficult to pass on, Championship points leader Sam Hornish finds himself starting from the middle of the pack in tenth spot, giving the Target team a opportunity to make significant gains in the points race heading into the season finale in Chicago. Helio Castroneves, seven points shy of Hornish in the standings, will start third directly behind the no.9 Target Honda.

Target fans can tune in to watch the Grand Prix of Sonoma on ESPN Live at 3:30 pm (EDT) on Sunday, Aug 27. Live streaming video of all practice sessions, Pole Qualifying (3:05 p.m. EDT, Aug. 26) and the in-car footage of the race also will be available at www.indycar.com. The race also will be broadcast live by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com.

-credit: cgr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornis
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing