IRL: Homestead: Season opener qualifying report

Andretti Green teammates sweep Homestead front row. HOMESTEAD, Fla., Saturday, March 1, 2003 -- Andretti Green Racing will make its first IRL IndyCarTM Series start from the front row, as Tony Kanaan won the MBNA Pole and owner-driver Michael ...

Andretti Green teammates sweep Homestead front row.

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Saturday, March 1, 2003 -- Andretti Green Racing will make its first IRL IndyCarTM Series start from the front row, as Tony Kanaan won the MBNA Pole and owner-driver Michael Andretti will start second for the Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kanaan won his first series pole March 1 with a track-record lap of 26.5278 seconds, 203.560 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. The previous track record was 202.884 set by Sam Hornish Jr. in 2002.

Andretti will start on the outside of the front row after a lap of 26.5992, 203.014 in the No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

"I'm extremely happy, the first one you never forget," Kanaan said. "It's good for the team -- it's a new team. We worked so hard, and (co-owners) Michael, Kim (Green) and Kevin (Savoree) worked so hard to get the sponsors in these days.

"The IRL is the best series out there, with the best drivers and most competitive ones. So it gives me a really good pleasure to be part of it."

Andretti, a two-time winner at Homestead-Miami in CART, just missed winning the pole in his first career start as a driver and team owner. But Andretti was pleased that he and Kanaan monopolized the front row while their teammate, Dario Franchitti, will start seventh in the No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

"It's awesome," Andretti said. "I'm so happy for the whole Team 7-Eleven team. The only thing that could've been better is if Dario would've been third. I know it's going to be really tough tomorrow, but God, it's a dream so far."

The Toyota Indy 300, the opening event of the IndyCar Series season, is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (EST) Sunday. The race will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network.

Two-time defending series champion Hornish will start third after a lap of 26.6034, 202.982 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Hornish is the two-time defending champion of this race on the 1.5-mile Homestead oval.

"Tomorrow is going to be a long day for us, but we think we have the car that it's going to take to go out and run well," Hornish said. "We know that our car handles well in traffic, and hopefully it will tomorrow. Yesterday we were doing long runs and making sure the car runs good, and this morning we started our qualifying program.

"I've always said I'd rather put the car safely in the race than have to put the car back together and start from the back. I'm excited to get back out there and race. Halfway through the race, you're wishing the race was over, and two minutes after the checkered flag you wish it was about to start again."

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will start fourth at 26.6773, 202.419 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. His teammate, two-time CART champion Gil de Ferran, rounded out the top five at 26.7354, 201.979 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

All three of the series' engine manufacturers -- Chevrolet, Honda and Toyota -- placed at least one car in the top five.

1996 IndyCar Series co-champion Scott Sharp rallied from a crash during the morning practice to qualify sixth at 26.7672, 201.739 in his backup No. 8T Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Sharp was the fastest driver in practice Friday.

A.J. Foyt IV, 18, will become the youngest driver to start an IndyCar Series race Sunday. He will take the green flag in 17th after a qualifying lap of 27.5989, 195.660 in the No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

Tickets for the Toyota Indy 300 are available by calling (305) 230-RACE, logging onto www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com or at any Ticketmaster location.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , A.J. Foyt IV , Dario Franchitti , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske