Target Plays It Cool as Dixon and Manning Qualify for the May Event Indianapolis, IN, Sunday, May 15th-- After rain washed out Saturday's qualifying session, Pole Day was moved to Sunday afternoon to determine the top 22 starting spots and...
Target Plays It Cool as Dixon and Manning Qualify for the May Event
Indianapolis, IN, Sunday, May 15th-- After rain washed out Saturday's qualifying session, Pole Day was moved to Sunday afternoon to determine the top 22 starting spots and the pole sitter for the 89th Indianapolis 500. While cool weather called for warm clothing and three warm-up laps for each car prior to the start of a qualifying attempt, Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe got some warm encouragement from Target teammate Casey Mears, driver of the #41 Target Dodge in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series, in their bid to qualify for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
Manning was the first of the three Target Team entries to qualify. Following contact with the turn 2 wall in Thursday practice, Darren Manning had planned to return to the track for Friday practice in his primary Target car until the weather disrupted the team's plans. Essentially, his qualifying run on Pole Day was the first time he had run in qualifying trim so there was a little more downforce on the no.10 Target Toyota then he might have liked.
"It was a relief just to get a qualifying run in after the incident that set us back a bit on Thursday," said Manning, who will start the Indianapolis 500 from Row Seven (19th spot) after posting a four lap average speed of 223.943 mph. "The Target Team prepared another good car and we got it in the show today. We thought we had some more speed in the car in qualifying trim, but we firmly secured our place in the field. I'm excited to get a bit of breathing room and I'm looking forward to improving the car for the race."
Scott Dixon waved off his first attempt to qualify the no.9T Target Toyota Panoz, then after the field had gone through the qualifying order once, took to the track for practice in order to improve his car for another shot at a better qualifying time. The team's effort paid off with a spot on Row Five making Dixon the highest qualifying Target entry.
"The cold conditions made things a little treacherous out there early on and the Target Toyota was really loose," said Dixon, who qualified with a four lap average speed of 225.215 mph. "The Target crew guys did a really good job to make the right adjustments, but we did play it a little safe on our second attempt. It was a good solid run and it got us into the show and that's what counts."
Things didn't go quite as well for rookie Ryan Briscoe, driver of the no.33 Target Toyota, who was on his second timed qualifying lap of his first attempt, when he made contact with the wall on the exit of turn one and momentarily went airborne. He was checked, quickly released and cleared to drive by the medical center staff and prepared to take the track once again to qualify in his back up car, but simply ran out time.
"We were optimistic with the downforce levels this morning and on our first attempt the no.33 Target Toyota was on the limit and I could feel that the car was really loose," said Briscoe. "I worked with the bar to dial in some rear grip but got caught by a gust of wind coming out of turn one and lost the rear on the exit. The Target crew did a fantastic job getting the back up car ready but we just ran out of time. We were confident we had a car to qualify 10th or 11th but we just ran out of time. It's unfortunate but we'll be back next weekend and get the no.33 Target Toyota into the race then. It's a 500 mile race so anything can happen and we'll work on making it happen for us."
Reigning IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, third in the qualifying line, took the pole with a four-lap average of 227.566 mph (2 minutes, 38.1961 seconds). Sam Hornish Jr. and Scott Sharp round out the First Row for the prestigious May event.
Practice for the Indianapolis 500 resumes at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with the final eleven available positions on the starting grid to be filled on May 21-22.
Throughout the 2005 season, fans are invited to follow the team's progress by logging onto their official website at targetracing.com for news, features, photos and much more.