IRL: Wheldon earns first 2006 pole in Kansas

Dan Wheldon earned his first pole of the season after lapping the Kansas Speedway at an average speed of 213.536 mph. Wheldon's third career pole was also the first for Ganassi Racing this year. Despite trailing points leader Helio Castroneves...

Dan Wheldon earned his first pole of the season after lapping the Kansas Speedway at an average speed of 213.536 mph. Wheldon's third career pole was also the first for Ganassi Racing this year.

Despite trailing points leader Helio Castroneves by 35 points with seven races to go, Wheldon characterized his season as frustrating. "But we have two cars that have been strong we really want to beat the two Penske cars."

Conditions at Kansas have been cooler than in years past but Wheldon said that heat would be a factor, "both the track temperature and the ambient. The combination of the harder tire compound and the heat makes it more important for a good driver and engineer relationship. I don't know if you're going to see as much side-by-side racing here tomorrow that you have in the past, but it's going to be fast."

Sam Hornish Jr. qualified second, putting on the front row for the fourth time this season. After the Texas race, teams traveled directly to Kansas to test in preparation for Sunday afternoon's race. "We were really happy with the test. When Dan ran a 213.5 we thought, 'We're not going to be close to that." But we messed with our gears a bit, which kept us from getting the pole. We're still pretty happy with the front row. We're here to race for tomorrow so we won't hold back."

Scott Dixon will start third, starting the race directly behind his Ganassi Racing teammate on the pole. "I think our chances are pretty good," said Dixon. "The mile-and-a-halfs have been pretty good for us. I think both of us are pretty confident with our race setup. We just have to see how it plays out. It's always a difficult race here because it's a lot hotter and the wind -- I've never seen it this strong before."

Helio Castroneves will make his sixth top-five start this season when he starts fourth tomorrow. "I was very happy with our qualifying run," said Castroneves. "The car was a little faster than I expected. Tomorrow will be hot and the track will be slick, but it always improves as the day goes on. We feel comfortable with the racecar, and I'm really looking forward to the race. We'll just have to play it smart and hopefully we'll be able to get our first victory here at Kansas."

Kosuke Matsuura will start fifth after qualifying at 212.404 mph. with Vitor Meira sixth at 212.146 mph.

Buddy Lazier, who will start seventh, was over a full mile per hour slower than Meira's sixth place qualiying speed. Lazier qualified at 210.711 mph.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Kosuke Matsuura , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing