IRL: Chicagoland: Series Saturday qualifying report

FRANCHITTI EARNS POLE FOR PEAK ANTIFREEZE INDY 300 JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007 -- Dario Franchitti will have a head start of a few feet in his attempt to wrap up the IndyCar Series championship. The points leader secured his third ...


JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007 -- Dario Franchitti will have a head start of a few feet in his attempt to wrap up the IndyCar Series championship.

The points leader secured his third earned AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award of the season with a lap of 214.646 (25.4931 seconds) on the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway oval in qualifications for the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean.

The Team Penske cars of Sam Hornish Jr. (214.492) and Helio Castroneves (214.380) will provide an initial buffer between Franchitti and the other title contenders, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, will start sixth (214.217) and Kanaan (214.310) will start fourth. Dan Wheldon (214.246) will share Row 3 with his teammate.

Franchitti holds a three-point lead over Dixon and a 39-point advantage over Kanaan. None of the contenders have won at Chicagoland Speedway, which has produced the closest 1-2 and 1-2-3 finishes in IndyCar Series history.


Five Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005), Sam Hornish Jr. (2006) and Dario Franchitti (2007).


Five IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Scott Sharp (1996 co-champion), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002, 2006), Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005).


Drivers entered in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 have combined for 88 IndyCar Series victories, 84 IndyCar Series pole positions and 1,318 IndyCar Series starts.


In 16 races thus far in 2007, there have been six winners. Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon are multiple winners. Franchitti won at Indianapolis, Iowa and Richmond. Wheldon won at Homestead-Miami and Kansas, Dixon won at Watkins Glen, Nashville, Mid-Ohio and Infineon and Kanaan won at Twin Ring Motegi, Milwaukee, Michigan and Kentucky. Other winners in 2007: Helio Castroneves at St. Petersburg, Sam Hornish Jr. at Texas. In those 16 races, 16 drivers have finished in the top five in at least one event.


The PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean will be the last of six events in 2007 contested on a 1.5-mile track. Winners in 2007 on 1.5-mile tracks: Dan Wheldon (Homestead-Miami Speedway and Kansas Speedway), Tony Kanaan (Twin Ring Motegi and Kentucky) and Sam Hornish Jr. (Texas Motor Speedway).


Brad Forth acknowledged he made a mistake when he converted his family's chili recipe to bulk quantities for the 2006 Indy Racing League Chili Cookoff. He perfected it for 2007. Forth, a member of the Indy Racing League transportation department, was declared the winner of the fourth annual chili cookoff for "Mum's Canadian Brown Sugar Chili."

"It's an old family recipe that was actually invented at a racetrack," Forth said. My mom first used the recipe at Mosport about 45 years ago. We've always loved it and I'm pretty pleased that everyone loved it. I'm ready to share it with everyone else." Mike and Sandy Fink of Fink Brothers Motorsports, the hospitality service for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, were voted the winners of the "Best Presentation" and "Best Flavor" by the racing community who attended the event, which raises funds for IRL Ministry and IRL Kids.

"I'm so excited that everyone liked my chili" Sandy Fink said. "I really appreciate everybody's vote and my husband's work on the presentation. It was awesome."


PEAK Antifreeze, the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have teamed up with IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick to offer racing enthusiasts a chance to win an unprecedented IndyCar Series Driving Experience. Fifteen lucky racing fans will enjoy a VIP experience during Pole Qualifying Weekend at the 2008 Indianapolis 500. Each winner will learn first-hand racing tips from Patrick before driving an IndyCar Series car around the famed 2.5-mile oval.

MARK KRAUS (vice president of marketing, Old World Industries): "PEAK is pleased to be part of the thrills and excitement that IndyCar Series racing brings to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This year, we're hoping to make the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 race even more exciting by offering contest winners more access to the IndyCar Series racing experience then ever before."

TERRY ANGSTADT (president, commercial division, Indy Racing League): "We are thrilled to partner with Andretti Green Racing, Danica Patrick and PEAK to offer race fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In a short period of time, PEAK has become actively engaged in the IndyCar Series and activating around its partnerships with Danica and the entitlement of our season finale at the Chicagoland Speedway."


Two IndyCar Series drivers are working with new spotters this weekend. Greg Grahn is spotting for A.J. Foyt IV this weekend in place of his regular spotter P.J. Chesson, who is racing with Roth Racing. Jeff McComb is spotting for Vitor Meira this weekend. Meira's regular spotter Mike Ford is working with Hideki Mutoh this weekend.



* This is Dario Franchitti's third AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award this season and the sixth pole position of his IndyCar Series career. His last pole came at Infineon Raceway last month.

* Dario Franchitti earned his seventh front-row start in 2007 and fifth consecutive front row start.

* This is Andretti Green's fifth earned pole this season and its 19th pole position in the IndyCar Series.

* IndyCar Series championship contenders Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon qualified fourth and sixth, respectively.

* Darren Manning qualified eighth, his best effort on an oval this season.


DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Honda/Dallara/Firestone, AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award Winner): "I was surprised because we ran a lot quicker than that this morning. Quite honestly, I think the track just slowed down. So we were just sitting there watching the usual suspects go through, thinking, 'This could be close.' But what can I say -- the guys on the Canadian Club team have built a great car and my engineers have been doing it right."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualifed second): "We had a great car in practice today, but unfortunately we came up a little bit short during qualifying. It's too bad we couldn't get it done out there today, but we have 200 laps tomorrow to get it right. The Team Penske guys have been doing an amazing job in the pits all year and hopefully we'll be able to bring it home near the front tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Honda/Dallara/Friestone, qualifed third): "We had a fuel intake issue on the car during the first practice session this morning, but the Team Penske crew worked quickly to fix the problem. Once we were able put that behind us, the car was great, and we thought that we might have a chance at the pole, but we just didn't have quite enough to overtake Dario (Franchitti) or Sam (Hornish Jr.). The good news is that both Team Penske cars seem to be working very well and are close on speed, so hopefully Sam and I will be able to work well together tomorrow in an attempt to end our season on a high note. After all of the ups and downs this year, we would like nothing more than to end it in a positive way."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I think we have a pretty good car. We worked really on the race setup during both sessions, we kind of split it between me and Dario, a little bit. Some of the stuff he was trying was to find the speed. I was trying to find the grip for the race, and we came up with a pretty good combination. So we feel confident for tomorrow."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified fifth): "I'm frustrated. This is a track I normally do very well at, but we just seem to always lose speed in qualifying. It's something that we need to work on. I think the car is good for the race, but I'm just frustrated with qualifying bad. From a car that's dominated the last two years here to a car that's struggled to do a good time in qualifying, it would be nice to know why."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified sixth): "The day seemed pretty good. The car felt comfortable. Definitely in traffic, we've been pretty happy. For qualifying, all we wanted to do was start near the front. We were a little ways back, which we were a little shocked by. I think the top six are so close. I think it's a 14th of a mile an hour, so it's going to be a tough race tomorrow. Unfortunately, we're on the wrong end of the 14. So we'll do our best to move up the front and see how it goes. But all in all I think we're pretty happy today."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team Motorola Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified seventh): "I thought that lap was alright. We went almost as quick as we did in our qualifying simulation in practice, so I don't think that was too bad. That was much better than a lot of the qualifying runs we've had this year with the Motorola car, so I'm pretty happy with that overall."

DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified eighth): "I'm pleased with that run. We've played it pretty cautious on our qualifying set-up over the season and this weekend, we decided to get a bit more aggressive focusing more on speed rather than finding a comfortable race set-up. Most races we finish the weekend knowing what we should have done, this weekend we came here knowing what we had to do."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified ninth): "We qualified about as quick as we could go and I guess so long as we start in the top-10 for the race, I will be fairly happy about it. From there it's just about getting in a good position early in the race and getting a strong finish."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 60 Formula Dream Panther Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified 13th): "We couldn't quite find a good setup in the practice session so we changed the setup in the second practice session and it was good. I thought we would be able to qualify in a better position but I guess it's not that easy. We have a good car so I am looking forward to my first race in IndyCar Series. My goal is to finish the race and it would be great if I could finish in the top 10."


The next IndyCar Series event is the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 9 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be televised live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network.

-credit: irl

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Series IndyCar
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing