IRL: Dixon thunders to pole at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (July 5, 2003) -- Scott Dixon earned the pole position for Sunday's Kansas Indy 300 after averaging 218.08 mph around the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway in his Toyota-powered Panoz G Force. Dixon, who drives for Target Chip Ganassi...

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (July 5, 2003) -- Scott Dixon earned the pole position for Sunday's Kansas Indy 300 after averaging 218.08 mph around the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway in his Toyota-powered Panoz G Force.

Dixon, who drives for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, earned his second consecutive pole after starting from the top position one week ago at Richmond International Raceway. Dixon, who was victorious in the last two Indy Racing events at Pikes Peak and Richmond, was awarded his first pole position at the Twin Ring Motegi when qualifying was rained out.

Team Target Ganassi cars took the top two spots in the three practice sessions leading up to qualifying with Tomas Scheckter taking the top spot each time. In qualifying, Scheckter was 22 thousandths of a second slower than his teammate and will start from the outside of the front row.

"Going into qualifying, we knew it was going to be one of us. I actually thought Tomas was going to get it," Dixon said. "He's been fast all weekend. I'm not sure what happened there; we just ended up getting him. I think a lot of the credit goes to the team."

When asked about the battle for the first turn, Scheckter said he was more interested in the outcome of the race. "It's long race. It does not matter who goes into turn one first.

"I hope we're both back here speaking to you tomorrow."

The Toyota Panoz G Force combination took the top three qualifying spots with Tora Takagi tying his career best starting position of third.

"I know if we had more time we could do a few little things to get some more speed. But overall, we are happy with qualifying third for the fourth time this season."

Takagi's Mo Nunn Racing teammate Felipe Giaffone will start fifth. Marlboro Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran, who also drives a Toyota-powered car, split the pair.

Giaffone, fourth in the line to qualifying, withdrew his primary car when the team reported an engine problem. "We just weren't satisfied with how our primary car was working, so we thought about all of our options and decided it might be worth a try to switch to the backup car.

"That car didn't turn a wheel all weekend here. It was our race car at Richmond, and as you can see, it was very good right off the transporter. We only had one lap, but I figured if we couldn't do it in one lap, then we weren't going to do it anyway."

Toyota powered cars took the top seven spots in the grid with Helio Castroneves and Al Unser Jr. rounding out the Toyota frontrunners.

Current points leader Tony Kanaan drove his Honda-powered Dallara to an eighth place starting position. "I'm very disappointed," said Kanaan after averaging 215.58 mph during his run. "We've got to keep working, and we have to get better. I know we have a good race car, but qualifying was not what we expected."

Earlier in the day, Kanaan turned a practice lap at 216.528 mph.

"I'd have to say I'm disappointed," said Andretti Green Racing President Kim Green, who co-owns Kanaan's car. "I felt like when we ran some race runs yesterday that we were pretty good, but now I'm even a bit nervous about that. It's going to be a long race."

Temperatures in the 90-degree range could be a factor in tomorrow's race.

"This heat is ridiculous," said Scheckter. "This heat is great if you're lying on the beach, but driving a car is a different story." Scheckter feels his strenuous fitness program will enable him to endure any problems presented by the heat, adding, "I feel that it will play in our favor tomorrow."

Dixon said the heat was particularly bad when he was sitting in the car, "but once you're on the track, it's not a problem."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Chip Ganassi , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing