MIAMI, Friday, March 1, 2002 - 2001 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. will start the defense of his title from the top spot Saturday in the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami after claiming his first career MBNA Pole on Friday at ...
MIAMI, Friday, March 1, 2002 - 2001 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. will start the defense of his title from the top spot Saturday in the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami after claiming his first career MBNA Pole on Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Hornish took the pole with a top lap of 26.6162 seconds, 202.884 mph in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone on the 1.5-mile oval. Hornish started first in two events last year after qualifying was rained out and the field was set by points, but this is his first MBNA Pole earned through qualifying.
"We actually thought we could be a little bit quicker than that," Hornish said. "We didn't know how much the wind was going to change. The wind picked up a little bit from this morning. It's pretty much from the same direction, so we knew what to do there. We've been very happy with our car."
Defending event winner Hornish earned his breakthrough pole despite recovering from a bout of the flu.
"I'm getting better every day," Hornish said. "It's just not much fun when you're coughing and sneezing all the time."
The 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami starts at 1 p.m. (EST) Saturday and will be televised live on ABC. Final practice starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
2001 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will start second in his debut as a full-time Indy Racing League driver. His best lap was 26.6780, 202.414 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
"I was flat out," Castroneves said. "The weather was tough on everyone today, so considering the wind, I'm happy with how Marlboro Team Penske did today. Tomorrow is the day that counts, so we'll have to be patient and run a good race. I think we're in good shape so far."
Red Bull Cheever Racing monopolized the second row. Rookie Tomas Scheckter will start third in his IRL debut after a top lap of 26.7502, 201.868 in the No. 52T Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Scheckter was forced to use the backup car after he crashed in the morning practice. Team owner/driver Eddie Cheever Jr. will start fourth after a best lap of 26.8080, 201.432 in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Jaques Lazier will start fifth after a lap of 26.8135, 201.391 in the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Gil de Ferran rounds out the third row, starting in sixth after a best lap of 26.8159, 201.373 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
2000 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year Airton Dare will make an unexpected start in the race from the 21st position.
Dare, a Miami resident, is substituting for Donnie Beechler, who was admitted to Jackson Memorial Hospital for observation after suffering a concussion after crashing the No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone during morning practice. He is in stable condition, conscious and alert, said Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services.
The start of qualifying was delayed nearly 2½ hours due to an accident that claimed the life of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series driver Jeff Clinton. That series also is competing at the track during this event.