IRL: Sears Point: Qualifying report

DIXON WINS POLE FOR INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA SONOMA, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006 -- Scott Dixon claimed his first pole of season, winning the Marlboro Pole Award for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. Dixon recorded a time of 1 minute, 17.0344...

DIXON WINS POLE FOR INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA

SONOMA, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006 -- Scott Dixon claimed his first pole of season, winning the Marlboro Pole Award for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. Dixon recorded a time of 1 minute, 17.0344 seconds, 107.484 mph. It was the sixth IndyCar Series pole position of Dixon's career and his first on a non-oval race course.

Dixon will be joined on the front row by IndyCar Series rookie Marco Andretti, who topped the single-lap qualifying (106.831; 1:17.5054). It is the highest starting position for Andretti, who moved to second during the Firestone Fast Six with a lap of 107.417 mph (1:17.0830) late in the session.

Helio Castroneves, seven points shy of Hornish in the standings, will start third (107.236; 1:17.2127) in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. He was second quick in single-lap qualifying. Tony Kanaan, who won the inaugural race last year, will start fourth (107.209; 1:17.2320) in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Andretti Green Racing teammate Dario Franchitti (107.130; 1:17.2893) will start fifth in the No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club car. Point leader Sam Hornish Jr. qualified 10th in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

INDYCAR SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP SCENARIOS:

If Sam Hornish Jr. wins the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma:
* Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan are mathematically eliminated from the title chase regardless of their result
* Scott Dixon must finish second and lead the most laps; or win to remain mathematically eligible*
* Dan Wheldon must finish fifth and earn the lap leader bonus; or third or better if he does not earn the bonus
* Helio Castroneves will remain mathematically eligible regardless of his finish at Infineon, or bonus earned

If Sam Hornish Jr. wins the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma AND leads the most laps:
* Scott Dixon, Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan are mathematically eliminated from the title chase regardless of their result
* Dan Wheldon must finish third or better
* Helio Castroneves must finish 14th or better

If Helio Castroneves wins the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
* Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan are mathematically eliminated from the title chase regardless of their result
* Scott Dixon must finish fourth and lead the most laps; or third or better if he does not earn the bonus to remain mathematically eligible*
* Dan Wheldon must finish eighth or better and lead the most laps; or seventh or better if he does not earn the bonus
* Sam Hornish Jr. will remain mathematically eligible regardless of his finish at Infineon, or bonus earned

If Helio Castroneves wins the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma AND leads the most laps:
* Sam Hornish Jr. will remain mathematically eligible regardless of his finish at Infineon, or bonus earned
* Scott Dixon must finish second or better to remain mathematically eligible*
* Dan Wheldon must finish fifth or better
* Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan are mathematically eliminated from the title chase regardless of their result

If Dan Wheldon wins the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
* Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan are mathematically eliminated from the title chase regardless of their result
* Scott Dixon must finish 15th or better and lead the most laps; or 12th or better if he does not earn the bonus to remain mathematically eligible*
* Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves will remain mathematically eligible regardless of his finish at Infineon, or bonus earned

If Dan Wheldon wins the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma AND leads the most laps:
* Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan are mathematically eliminated from the title chase regardless of their result
* Scott Dixon must finish ninth or better to remain mathematically eligible*
* Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves will remain mathematically eligible regardless of his finish at Infineon, or bonus earned

If Scott Dixon wins the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
* Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan are mathematically eliminated from the title chase regardless of their result
* Sam Hornish Jr., Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon will remain mathematically eligible regardless of his finish at Infineon, or bonus earned

Regardless of result, Vitor Meira is eliminated from the championship if:
* Dan Wheldon wins and/or
* Helio Castroneves finishes 7th or better and/or
* Sam Hornish Jr. finishes 10th or better and leads the most laps; or finishes 9th or better without the bonus

Regardless of result, Tony Kanaan is eliminated from the championship if:
* Scott Dixon wins and/or,
* Dan Wheldon finishes second or better and/or
* Helio Castroneves finishes 11th or better and/or
* Sam Hornish Jr. finishes 17th or better

*Within 41 points (maximum points that can be made up during an event)

***

The IndyCar Series has penalized five cars for failing to recognize the checkered flag during this morning's pre-qualifying practice session. #2 Scheckter, #6 Hornish, #14 Bucknum, #15 Rice and #17 Simmons will be held five minutes at the start of the 30-minute final practice.

***

Townsend Bell will drive the #2 car during the final practice as a substitute driver for Tomas Scheckter. Scheckter is experiencing shoulder discomfort and the team is keeping options open if a relief driver is needed.

POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

* This is Scott Dixon's sixth-career IndyCar Series pole position and his first Marlboro Pole Award of the season. Dixon's last pole position came at Nazareth in 2002. It is his first pole for a non-oval event.

* This is Target Chip Ganassi Racing's third pole position of the season and its 12th pole in the IndyCar Series.

* Marco Andretti qualified second, his career-best start. His previous best start was third at Watkins Glen and Milwaukee.

* Five of the six drivers in Firestone Fast Six qualifying changed their positions. Only Dan Wheldon, who qualified sixth, remained where he entered. Every driver improved their lap times from single-car qualifying.

POST-MARLBORO POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone, Marlboro Pole Award winner): "This weekend, we've been trying to put as much presure on both Penske cars. So far, we've done what we've needed to do. The car felt decent all weekend, but in some ways we were lucky to get the pole. We put in just enough fuel for about five laps in the final session, and we didn't have time to get more than that. 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 at this place. I think we could have gone a lot quicker on the single lap but I just tried to get into the top 6.I did what I needed to do during the final session with the six cars."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "It's going to be a long day tomorrow, as all of these drivers know. This place is about track position and fortunately we have that now. We just have to keep it. Never count out any of these guys. They're IndyCar drivers for a reason. I knew we had a car to be in (the Firestone Fast Six). We actually went in the shootout with a little more fuel than we should have. That could have been the difference."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "We've been happy with the Marlboro Team Penske car all weekend, and we thought we had a good shot at winning the pole. But when we got out there it seemed like the track had changed, and we were having some problems with the carousel. We'll take third, though and hope to move up tomorrow. I think we have a good race car, so hopefully we'll have a clean race and continue our pursuit of a Championship."

DAN WHELDON (No 10. Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "We would have liked to have moved up a bit in the top 6 but it's a reasonable starting position. 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 pit stops 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."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "I tell you what, that was a huge goal for today to get in the top-10. We have sort of been struggling a bit in practice and loosing our balance. That qualifying run wasn't perfect but I put in a pretty good lap--best we've had so far this weekend. If we could have gotten in the top-six, that would have been so good for us. It's always great come back to a road course and especially in an IndyCar. They are fantastic cars to race around this track. I'm having a great time here. My goal was to try and make it to the top-six but we're making strides."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Lincoln Tech Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "Our qualification run was good. I think we still need to step it up a little as far as qualifications go, but we are still happy. We wanted to make the Firestone Fast Six, but the key thing is how our racecar performs tomorrow. I know that the car will be good like it has been in practice, and (Race Engineer) Bill Pappas and (Team Owner) John Barnes always make great improvements to the Lincoln Tech Honda. We're excited to get back out there for the race."

SAM HORNISH, JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified tenth): "We're not very happy with our qualifying run, but fortunately today's not the day that counts. The car was a little loose out there. Tomorrow's the day that matters, so we just have to focus and make sure we stay out of trouble. It's a long race and hopefully we'll be able to put the Marlboro Team Penske car near the front."

***

The next IndyCar Series event is the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 27 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast live by ESPN and broadcast 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. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Sonoma 100 doubleheader on Aug. 26-27 at Infineon Raceway. ESPN2's coverage of the doubleheader races will be televised at 2 p.m. on Aug. 31.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , John Barnes , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing