Indianapolis, IN, Thursday, May 21, 2006- It will be a front row start for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 as defending race winner and reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon set the third fastest...
Indianapolis, IN, Thursday, May 21, 2006- It will be a front row start for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 as defending race winner and reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon set the third fastest average lap speed (227.338 mph) in Pole Day Qualifying. This will be Wheldon's second time on the front row in four career starts at Indy. He'll share the front row with Pole sitter Sam Hornish Jr. and his Penske teammate Helio Castroneves.
"I think it was a reasonable run for us," said Wheldon of his four lap qualifying effort. "Maybe we could have been a little bit more daring and taken a little bit more downforce out, but Team Penske has been very strong with Sam Hornish in particular. We have been just a bit behind them all month and it's been difficult trying to catch them."
"Taking another run for the Pole would have been nice but we've got a good starting position and all that really counts is the finish," added Wheldon. "Under race trim, we are much more equal. I think we need to fine tune our race car to a certain degree, just to make sure we are really good."
Target teammate Scott Dixon will be close by on the grid in fourth spot, equaling his best Indy 500 start as rookie in 2003.
"At the end, we wanted to get one more run a little more trimmed out to make it a little bit better," said Dixon who was the first Target car to qualify and did so early in the day. "We wanted to get a run in before we came up here and withdrew the car and maybe not make it in today. We wanted to be confident that we had the speed, and we didn't get a chance to do it. I think it's good starting on the inside second row. I think it is always good to start in the front. I think maybe on the outside front row would have been a little better."
Both Target cars took to the track on Sunday's Bump day to get some extra practice time and perfect their race car set ups during breaks in the qualifying line.
Target's third and fourth place starting positions at the Indy 500 are the best since Bruno Junqueira's Pole winning performance for the team in 2002 (finished 31). Juan Montoya and Jimmy Vasser qualified second and seventh on their way to the Target Team's first Indianapolis 500 victory in 2000, with Montoya as the winner and teammate Vasser finishing seventh.
Other front row starts for Target include Eddie Cheever's second place starting spot in 1992 (finished 4th) with teammate Arie Luyendyk starting fourth on the grid (finished 15th due to contact). The following year, Arie Luyendyk had the Pole position for the Target team and finished second.
Final practice for the race will take place on Carburetion Day this Friday, May 26. The 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 will air live on ABC Sports on Sunday, May 28 at 1:00 p.m. EDT.