Sorenson earns first pole at the Brickyard

Reed Sorenson earned his first NASCAR Nextel Cup Series pole after touring the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at an average speed of 184.207 mph. Sorenson was the only driver to break the 184 mph barrier, two miles-per-hour shy of Casey Mears' track...

Reed Sorenson earned his first NASCAR Nextel Cup Series pole after touring the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at an average speed of 184.207 mph. Sorenson was the only driver to break the 184 mph barrier, two miles-per-hour shy of Casey Mears' track record (186.293 mph) set in 2004.

"Obviously it's an awesome place to get your first pole," said Sorenson. "Hopefully we can stay up there all day tomorrow."

Ganassi Racing drivers swept the front row with 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya starting alongside his teammate.

Sorensen, who was fastest in the single practice session leading to qualifying, picked up 0.029 seconds in qualifying while Montoya went a tick slower (0.050 seconds). Montoya was sixth fastest in practice.

As the second driver in the qualifying line, Sorenson thought his time might not hold up. "It's not good going out as early as we did," he said. "That's the best time I could post at that time."

Although Sorenson knew his fiercest competition would come from his teammates, "I was nervous the whole time. I was nervous about it getting cooler. I was nervous all the way down to the last car."

Since leaving Formula One to race in America, Montoya has enjoyed mixed results in NEXTEL Cup racing. He's won on road courses in the Busch and Cup Series but the ovals have been tricky. "You can start to see an indication of where team is going," said Montoya after qualifying second. "The six years I was here in Formula One, we had great cars but the worst luck. Being competitive again is great."

Driving an IndyCar Series car and a stock car are completely different on the 2.5-mile speedway but Montoya said his prior experience, "probably helped a little bit in Turn one. I changed my line a little bit in qualifying and that seemed to help out."

The third Ganassi car, driven by David Stremme will start 12th. Stremme said his team did "a good job on the cars building them before they came. We were a little too free qualifying and it cost us a few spots. We'll be all right Sunday."

Ryan Newman qualified third giving Dodge the top three starting spots. Newman best lap in practice put him 32nd on the speed chart. He trimmed more than seven tenths of a second (0.717 seconds) from practice and will start on the inside of the second row.

"That was a good run," said Newman. "I told the guys they did a better job with the car than I did driving it.

"The biggest thing is we picked so much time from practice. We picked up seven-tenths, but I wish we could have been a little bit quicker."

Qualifying got underway at 5:30 with the track temperature at 105 degrees, leading most drivers to think a low number in the qualifying order would present a problem. Most expected the track cool as qualifying progressed. With cloud cover moving in and out fot he area, position in the qualifying line didn't seem to matter.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the first driver to qualify. His lap at 183.419 mph held up for the outside of the second row. "We had a good car all day in practice," said Earnhardt. "We were really fast."

In qualifying, "I had a good lap going. I think I could have run a 49.70 running flat. I messed up in Turn four and got down in the corner too soon, got loose and had to lift a little bit. I lost about three-tenths."

Dodge drivers earned five of the top six starting positions with Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch, starting on the third row. After taking the fifth starting position, Kahne said, "It felt good. It was balanced and the whole lap felt really good. I think the Dodge's are pretty strong. That's a good thing for us and I'm looking forward to racing tomorrow."

Scott Riggs was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field based on time. He qualified 16th.

Robby Gordon continued to struggle at the Brickyard. After hitting the wall in practice the team was forced to use a backup car for qualifying. Gordon was only able to muster a qualifying lap at 176.890 mph, more than seven mph off the pole speed. He will start the race based on the team's owner points.

Kyle Petty's lap at 179.188 mph was embarrassingly slow too. He will make his 800th Cup start based on owner points as well.

Two-time Brickyard 400 winner Dale Jarrett failed to qualify after posting a lap at 178.692 mph.

A.J. Allmendinger was on his way to qualifying for the race when he hit the wall exiting Turn four. "We had a great lap going, one that would have put us comfortably in the field. This is a unique track with a lot of nuances, and I needed more than the 20 laps we got in practice to be comfortable with it."

Notes:

Richard Childress Racing entries will honor Skip Prosser, the Wake Forest University men's basketball coach who died on Thursday by placing Wake Forest decals on the car for Sunday's race. "I grew up in Winston-Salem and have spent my entire life living and working in the area," said Childress. "We just want everyone in the Wake Forest community to know that we're thinking about them during this difficult time."

***

Several drivers were scheduled to do double duty, racing in the NEXTEL Cup Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in the NASCAR Busch Series at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Indiana. With rain causing schedule changes at the Speedway, seven drivers had to use backup drivers to qualify at ORP.

The Cup driver with their qualifying fill-in driver:
Greg Biffle -- Todd Kluever
Dave Blaney -- Mike Bliss
Carl Edwards -- Travis Kvapil
David Ragan -- Erik Darnell
David Reutimann -- Mark Green
Scott Wimmer -- Brandon Miller
J.J. Yeley -- Kertus Davis

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing