IRL: Homestead: Andretti, Kanaan qualifying report

Team 7-Eleven to line up on front row for IRL season opener. HOMESTEAD, Florida (March 1, 2003) -- First time out. First front row. It doesn't get better than that. Team 7-Eleven made their first appearance in the Indy Racing League IndyCar ...

Team 7-Eleven to line up on front row for IRL season opener.

HOMESTEAD, Florida (March 1, 2003) -- First time out. First front row. It doesn't get better than that. Team 7-Eleven made their first appearance in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series a noticeable one today when Tony Kanaan and Michael Andretti captured the top two spots for tomorrow's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After three months of preparation Andretti Green Racing and Team 7-Eleven reaped the rewards of a job well done when Kanaan, who qualified seventh, sped around the 1.5-mile oval at a blistering 203.560 mph (26.5278 seconds) to earn his first pole position in the IndyCar Series and set a new track record at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Andretti, who posted the fastest time during the morning practice session, will start from the outside pole position after posting a fast lap of 203.014 mph (26.5992 seconds).

The 29 year-old Brazilian Kanaan, who ran his first IndyCar Series race at the Indianapolis 500 in 2002, will start tomorrow's race from the pole in the #11 Dallara/Honda/Firestone which is backed by convenience store giant 7-Eleven, their Big Gulp brand, GoGo Taquitos, vendors PepsiCo and Jacks Links as well as Motorola, Klein Tools and Jim Beam. Andretti who drives the #7 Dallara/Honda/Firestone, benefits from the support of 7-Eleven, Big Gulp, Motorola, Archipelago, Klein Tools and Jim Beam.

The front row start for Team 7-Eleven comes just three months following the opening of Andretti Green Racing in Indianapolis and marks the first pole position of Michael Andretti's career as a team owner. Andretti who will start his 312th race tomorrow also announced on Saturday that he has launched a Countdown to Indy program that will allow fans to join him as he participates in the last four races of his career. Andretti will retire from competition following the Indianapolis 500 in May and is looking to post his 43rd career victory at Homestead.

Sam Hornish Jr. will start third after marking a best lap of 202.982 mph (26.6034 seconds). Andretti Green Racing's technical partner, Dario Franchitti, driving the #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola entry will start seventh with a best lap of 201.393 mph (26.8133 seconds).

The 2003 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season opener begins at 1 p.m. eastern. The race will be broadcast live on ABC.

Tony Kanaan , Team 7-Eleven

"I'm really happy for Team 7-Eleven, we've been working so hard and so well together. I really have to thank my teammates Michael (Andretti) and Dario (Franchitti) for all that they did to contribute to this. When you've got a team like this that is so willing to share information amongst its drivers it's amazing. We're not worried about beating each other during this stage of the weekend; we're all working together to get our cars qualified as high as we can. During the race we'll go out and really compete with each other and at the end of the day what we are looking for is to win. We're in a great position to do that tomorrow."

Kim Green , President -- Andretti Green Racing

"A Team 7-Eleven front row certainly is a great start for the season. But this is just the first part of the weekend. Obviously winning the race and scoring points is the most important part. Tomorrow it's all about preserving equipment and putting ourselves in a position to be there at the end of the race. This is a very positive sign though and it certainly shows how well this team has worked together."

Michael Andretti , Team 7-Eleven

"This is such a dream, everything has come together so well. The Team 7-Eleven crew did a great job and Tony (Kanaan) did a great job. And don't count Dario (Franchitti) out, he's been working hard on the race setup and will be tough out there tomorrow. You know we're Team 7-Eleven, our cars are numbers 7 and 11 but our grid order is 11 -- 7. We're going to have to do something about that at Phoenix, but right now, I've got to say how happy and proud of everyone I am. This is a great way to start the season."

Tony Cotman -- Team 7-Eleven Team Manager

"We're really happy with the result of today's qualifying and it's great for Team 7-Eleven to be on the pole. Hopefully we'll find ourselves a good race car and be in this same position at the end of the race tomorrow."

- AGR -

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Kim Green , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.