IRL: Indy 500: Throwback "Pole" Day news and notes

HORNISH CLAIMS WORLDPOINTS VISA CARD POLE AWARD FOR 90th INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, May 20, 2006 -- Sam Hornish Jr.'s speed in practice paid off in qualifying for the 90th Indianapolis 500. The two-time IRL IndyCar® Series ...

HORNISH CLAIMS WORLDPOINTS VISA CARD POLE AWARD FOR 90th INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, May 20, 2006 -- Sam Hornish Jr.'s speed in practice paid off in qualifying for the 90th Indianapolis 500.

The two-time IRL IndyCar® Series champion won the WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Award after recording a four-lap average of 228.985 mph (2 minutes, 37.2155 seconds) in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd on Coca-Cola Throwback Day.

"This is the best day of my life at the Speedway," Hornish said. "Hopefully we can be in this same position next Sunday, too."

Hornish's 10th career pole start will come in the largest one-day sporting event on the planet -- a race he's dreamed about winning before he climbed into a go-kart two decades ago. It was the 13th Indianapolis 500 pole for team owner Roger Penske.

"I would trade all my championships and awards to win this race," he said. "I came here wanting to get the pole and starting second is starting second. I want to be first. Starting from the pole is a great way to start this race off.

"The only thing left that could go wrong this month is the race. That's what tends to go wrong for me is the race. But everything has been above and beyond what we've expected. Hopefully it continues that way and a little bit of that luck continues on to the race."

Thirty-two other competitors won't concede anything to the Ohio-bred driver on May 28, including teammate Helio Castroneves (228.008) and reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon (227.338). They'll share the front row with Hornish.

Scott Dixon (226.921), Wheldon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, 2005 pole sitter Tony Kanaan (226.776) and Panther Racing's Vitor Meira (226.156) will be on Row 2.

Thirty-two cars qualified for the 33 spots, with six hours of qualifying remaining May 21 on Bump Day. Two cars that recorded practice laps this month did not make qualifying attempts.

Vision Racing's Townsend Bell was the only qualifier to utilize the three-attempt opportunity. The team withdrew the No. 90 Rock & Republic Dallara/Honda/Firestone, which was on the inside of Row 6 (223.659 mph), and Bell was back on the track with 25 minutes left in the session. He moved up one spot (15th; 224.374 mph).

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WORLDPOINTS VISA CARD POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

* This is Sam Hornish Jr's. second pole position this season and the 10th of his IndyCar Series career.

* This is Marlboro Team Penske's third pole position of the season and its 22nd pole in the IndyCar Series. The team has won the pole for three of the four IndyCar Series events in 2006.

* This is Hornish's first WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Award. His previous-best Indianapolis 500 start was second last season.

* It is the sixth time that the #6 car won the pole for the Indianapolis 500. The last time was in 1985 with Pancho Carter.

* This is car owner Roger Penske's 13th pole position for the Indianapolis 500 and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His last Indianapolis 500 pole was in 2003 with Helio Castroneves.

* This is car owner Roger Penske's 13th pole position for the Indianapolis 500 and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His last Indianapolis 500 pole was in 2003 with Helio Castroneves.

* Helio Castroneves qualified second. He will start on the front row for the second time in six Indianapolis 500 starts.

* Dan Wheldon qualified third. It is his second front-row start in four Indianapolis 500s.

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Teammates in close proximity are represented throughout the field: Fernandez Racing's Kosuke Matsuura (seventh at 225.503) and Scott Sharp (eighth; 225.321); Tomas Scheckter (11th; 224.659) and Ed Carpenter (12th; 224.548); Bryan Herta (16th; 224.179) and Dario Franchitti (17th; 223.345); Max Papis (18th; 222.058) and Eddie Cheever Jr. (19th; 222.028); P.J. Chesson (20th; 221.576) and Jeff Bucknum (22nd; 221.461); and Felipe Giaffone (21st; 221.542) and Larry Foyt (23rd; 221.332).

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On this date in 1969, MCA-TV, which televised the Closed-Circuit broadcast, announced that it would award $100 to the driver who posted the fastest recorded speed on May 21, 22, and 23. The award was determined based on speeds recorded between 4-6 p.m.

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In celebration of the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500, various personalities associated with "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will give their favorite "500" memories. Here's today's memory:

STEPHAN GREGOIRE (No. 97 Effen Vodka Team Leader Special Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "My best memory of Indy came in 1993. We had struggled all month long for different reasons. On the second day of qualifying, we were able to find enough speed and put it in the race just before the track closed. I believe I ended up being the fastest of the day after my qualifying run."

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Did you know?: Per his request, 1983 Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva is the only champion who appears on the Borg-Warner Trophy wearing his eyeglasses.

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Ethanol is presenting $2,500 to the driver who records the fastest lap on five practice days during the Month of May. The "Ethanol Fastest Lap" is presented May 10, 11, 17, 18 and 26. In addition to the ethanol awards, Cholula Hot Sauce awarded $15,000 to Sam Hornish Jr., who completes the Fastest Lap of the Day on May 19.

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Playa Del Racing has named Roger Yasukawa as driver of the #12 Playa Del Racing entry.

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 12 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "The team has a good platform, and the car feels good. Everyone is pushing for more track time, but that's not the case. We're just going to put the car in the show today and worry about the race set-up Sunday. I think everything is going to be good. I'm really excited to be joining the team and have Jaques (Lazier) as a teammate. I think it's going to be good."

SUSAN SCHAFER (co-owner, Playa Del Racing): "Unfortunately, Mother Nature had a hand in it, and us being a second weekend team had a hand in it. Jon (Herb) is a fantastic driver who will now concentrate on his ownership duties. We're very excited about Roger and his performance and Jaques heading into the race."

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Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr and two of his assistants are at the Speedway today as guests of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

LLOYD CARR (Michigan football coach): "I was here at a race, probably 15 years ago and I was at another race here probably two years ago. I think (the Indianapolis 500) is one of the greatest sporting events in the country. To be able to come down here, close to the action and watch these people.I think that is the most interesting part of it for me, is the fact that it takes a complete team effort to have success. Of course, with the speed and danger, nothing gets much more exciting than this."

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Music executive James "Jazzy" Jordan, the co-entrant of Dreyer & Reinbold's No. 5 entry is at the track today.

JAZZY JORDAN (Co-entrant, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): (About his decision to join Dreyer & Reinbold as a co-entrant): "First of all, I love motorsports. That is number one. Number two, this opportunity was presented to me by my business manager, and obviously I jumped on it. Once I did some research and really got to know Dennis (Reinbold) and Robbie (Buhl) and really realized they are quality racers and have drivers like Buddy (Lazier) and Al (Unser Jr.), it was a no-brainer." (About diversity in racing): "I look at what Tiger Woods was able to do for golf. Tiger Woods has made golf more appealing to everyone, and that's what I would love to be able to do for racing. What I love about the IndyCar Series is diversity is here already with Carmelo Anthony being involved, with Danica Patrick being involved and with myself being allowed to be involved. This is perfect, because they are setting the pace for what diversity should be about. It shouldn't be about talking about it. It should be about doing something about it." (About music and racing): "If you look at America as a whole right now, it is working from the urban areas out as opposed to how it has been in the past. I think that my influence and my connection with the urban connection will help more people get involved with the IndyCar Series. I just think that enough people don't really appreciate it and know about it. That will bring about more diversity, and if you get the right groups involved and you bring the right elements to this. It is already a giant paper, but we now have to be more inclusive with everyone." (About where he sees himself five years from now): "That's an excellent question standing here today, because I was standing here feeling like I was giving birth to a baby, and obviously I can't get pregnant. I was saying, 'Do I really want to do this every week?' and the answer is, 'Yes, I do.' Standing here, I have a million questions for Robbie. 'Why did you guys do this and why did you do that?' It is so much to learn and so much to do, but it is fascinating. So, yes, five years from now I want to be standing here as a full-fledged owner." (About his current stake with the team): "My status is a co-entrant for this race, and we are going to talk about more after that. That really depends on what my level of comfort is." (About treating the Indianapolis 500 as a test run for the season): "Yes, for the remainder of the season and then to move on from there. To me, when you look at someone that's been able to bridge the gap, because to me, IRL and NASCAR, the gap needs to be bridged with both of them. I would like to do that. I would love to in the future own a motorsports team that runs in both circuits."

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Tracey Todd of Kokomo, Ind., was crowned the 2006 500 Festival Queen at the 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

A student at Purdue University majoring in public relations and rhetorical advocacy, Todd, 19, is a 2005 graduate of Western High School and is the daughter of Richard and Lisa Todd. She was one of 33 young women selected for the 500 Festival Princess Program.

Princess Stacy Dixon of Franklin, Ind., and Roseanne Young of Francisco, Ind., were chosen as 2006 Princess court members. Dixon, the daughter of Stephen and Rebecca Dixon, is a student at Ball State University majoring in interior design. Young is a 2006 graduate of Indiana State University, with a degree in broadcasting. She is the daughter of Brenda Young and the late Mike Young.

As 500 Festival Queen, Todd receives a $2,500 educational scholarship from WTHR-TV and the 500 Festival. In addition, she will wear a jeweled crown provided by G. Thrapp Jewelers at 500 Festival events and the Indianapolis 500. She will participate in a variety of events throughout the week, including the Indianapolis 500 pre-race and Victory Circle celebrations.

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Jimmy Kite, a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter, and Tyce Carlson, a two-time Indianapolis 500 starter, are both at the Speedway today in hopes of landing a ride for the "500."

JIMMY KITE: "I'm not real comfortable on Pole Day here. Bump Day is more my speed. I kind of got screwed this week with both of them being on the same weekend. Normally, I have pole weekend, and then I have that whole week to find me a job. They've shortened it from a week to 24 hours. Still, when you come out here, stuff happens. You know, I'd love to be in a car tomorrow. Hopefully, by 6 o'clock (Sunday), I am. If I'm not, you know, it wouldn't be the first time. If you'd have asked about four hours ago, I'd have said there's no interest whatsoever, but I think everyone is realizing that tomorrow is getting here, and there's some interest. Whether it happens, I don't know. I'm still here. I'm a little more excited now than I was, but we'll just wait and see."

TYCE CARLSON: "I'm just pounding the pavement right now. There's a couple of people talking about opening up another car later tonight or tomorrow, but it's all about money. But weird things happen. You know it's been 10 years ago from this weekend that I made my first IndyCar attempt here at the speedway, and it was a last-day, last-second deal. I was on pit road and somebody said, 'Hey, go get your stuff and get down here and get in a car,' so I know it can happen that way, and I'm going to be here until that gun sounds. You can't put the foot in front of the horse, or whatever the saying is, but you know, everybody knows, up and down the garage area, what cars might be available, so those are the people that I'm talking to. Obviously, the 33 car (Ganassi) is going to be open, but that's going to be a lot of money to get into. Dreyer & Reinbold might have another car, Foyt might have another car. Look what A.J. did with Felipe last year. I wasn't at a Babies 'R Us today, but I was at my kid's baseball game today and I sold a house today, so it's kind of the same thing. I was out working today, doing other stuff, so you never know."

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The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ABC will broadcast the race live beginning at noon (EDT). A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at noon (EDT). The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 at 12:30 p.m. on May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's Carb Day coverage on May 26. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at 12:15 p.m. (EDT).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Jimmy Kite , Max Papis , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Larry Foyt , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Tom Sneva , Tyce Carlson , Roger Yasukawa , Jeff Bucknum , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , Pancho Carter , P.J. Chesson , Roger Penske , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing