Sam Hornish will start from the pole position in Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Now that the entire Indy Racing League field is powered by the same Honda engine, "the teams that have been trying to do more with...
Sam Hornish will start from the pole position in Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Now that the entire Indy Racing League field is powered by the same Honda engine, "the teams that have been trying to do more with less are now able to show their work," said Hornish.
With Honda supplying the entire field, the complexion of the series has changed, allowing the Penske and Ganassi teams to reap the rewards of their efforts from last year. In 2005, both teams were powered by Toyota engines thought to be down as much as 40 horsepower to the Honda engines which powered Andretti Green Racing to back-to-back championships in 2004 and 2005.
After five races, the Team Penske and Ganassi Racing drivers are the top four in the point standings and they earned the top positions in today's practice and qualifying sessions. Hornish nipped Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon by 0.0041 seconds to earn his third pole this season. Team Penske has now earned poles in five of the six events to date.
Now it's time for the team to "make sure the car handles well in traffic," said Hornish, "because that's how it'll be on race day."
Helio Castroneves, who currently leads the driver standings by 12 points over Scott Dixon, will start third. "I'm happy with the way we qualified tonight," said Castroneves after recording a qualifying lap at 213.182 mph, his fastest of the event. "I'm very satisfied with our qualifying position. We're in the top-five and I'm content with that."
The top five qualifiers were within a tenth of a second, with fifth place Tomas Scheckter 0.0923 seconds off Hornish's pole time.
Starting alongside Castroneves on the outside of row two, will be Dixon, who five days ago won the Watkins Glen event. Dixon responded to questions regarding qualifying by saying, "The car has been quick, but we haven't capitalized on it." An understatement from the 2003 series champion, currently second in driver standings and winner of the last event.
After two practice session today, Dixon topped the speed charts with a lap at 214.864 mph and his teammate, Wheldon was second fastest. Hornish and Castroneves were third and fourth fastest, respectively, after spending part of the session running in tandem to simulate traffic.
Tony Kanaan, who will start sixth, said he spent most of today working on his qualifying setup. "Our team always ahs good race cars here," said Kanaan. "If you look at my record, it's pretty good."
Scott Sharp will start seventh with Dario Franchitti starting alongside in eighth. Franchitti went to the back of the qualifying line after reporting late to the qualifying inspection line. Scrambling to make last minute repairs, the crew presented the car in time for Franchitti to take one qualifying lap. "The car has been comfortable all day," said Franchitti, "it just hasn't been fast." Franchitti was 15th on the combined speed chart with a lap at 211.126 mph.
After turning 211.933 in qualifying, Franchitti said, "It wasn't a bad performance, and it gives us something to work on tomorrow."