HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY, Homestead, FL, March 1, 2003 - Team 7/Eleven took a big gulp out of the 21-car IndyCar Series field, as Tony Kanaan bested owner and teammate Michael Andretti to share the front row for Sunday's Toyota Indy ...
HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY, Homestead, FL, March 1, 2003 - Team 7/Eleven took a big gulp out of the 21-car IndyCar Series field, as Tony Kanaan bested owner and teammate Michael Andretti to share the front row for Sunday's Toyota Indy 300.
The duo, driving with a Dallara/Honda combination, bested 2001-2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr., who was third for the day and 2001- 2002 Indianapolis 500 champ Helio Castroneves, who shares row two.
In only his second Indy Racing League start, Kanaan copped pole position with a new track record of 26.5278 seconds (203.560mph). "We had a good, consistent car in qualifying, but we've been working hard together to make the car better for traffic. We'll be good tomorrow, when it matters," the Brazilian stated. Having Andretti as an owner, Kanaan noted, is good. "It's great to talk to somebody who really understands what's going on when we're out there, for sure," he said.
"So far this season's been a dream. Everything has come together so well," Andretti explained after lapping at 26.5992 seconds (203.014mph). A CART winner here in both 1997 and 1998, "I'm proud of Tony. All three of us at Andretti Green Racing work so well together." Andretti, the first driver to take timed laps this afternoon was able to send information about his run back to Kanaan, but not to Dario Franchitti, the third member of the group, who was the second to qualify, taking 7th on the grid with a lap of 26.8133 seconds (201.393mph).
Reports of Sam Hornish Jr.'s demise and that of Pennzoil Panther Racing and Chevrolet appear to be unfounded, now that the season is officially started. Hornish, the third driver out to lap this afternoon in his Dallara/Chevy, logged a quick tour of 26.6034 seconds (202.982mph). "We think we have the car that' it's going to take to go out and run well," Hornish said. "We know our handles well in traffic and hopefully it will tomorrow."
Castroneves, who drew the final qualifying slot kept the Andretti Green duo on their toes, but was unable to beat them or Hornish, turning a lap of 26.6773 seconds (202.419mph) in his Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota. "I think we're in good shape for the race because tomorrow won't be about speed, it'll be about consistency." Teammate Gil de Ferran earned fifth starting slot with a lap of 26.7354 seconds (201.979mph). The Professor's car "twitches in the wind between turns 3 and 4," yet he was "reasonably happy with our qualifying run."
Despite smacking the turn 4 wall and sliding down the front straight in pre- qualifying practice, Scott Sharp, quickest Friday nabbed 6th on the grid for his Delphi Dallara/Toyota with a lap of 26.7672 seconds (201.739mph) in his spare car. Kenny Brack starts in 8th place next to Franchitti, driving his Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda to a tour of 26.8675 seconds (200.986mph) acknowledging, "It's been a rough weekend. We've been affected by every little thing and, unfortunately we don't have a baseline yet for this car."
Another who's had a rough time of it this weekend with the unruly Panoz G Force chassis, Tomas Scheckter's Panoz G Force/Toyota starts 9th with a lap of 26.8970 seconds (200.766mph). "The Team Target guys really stepped up today, making some changes that gave me a really good car for qualifying."
Rookie sensation Roger Yasukawa turned the 10th quickest qualifying lap in his Dallara/Honda yet, "I'm not 100% happy with my qualifying effort, but it's my first time out so I guess I should be reasonably happy. Certainly, finishing well will be the first priority and, if we keep the speed up, we should be in the top 10," he declared.
Of the 20 drivers presented for qualifying, 15 lapped within one second of Kanaan's quickest lap. Only rookie Scott Mayer failed to set a timed lap, suffering fuel pickup difficulties on his single try in a PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet.
The season opening Toyota Indy 300 is set to take the green flags at 1pm tomorrow for 200 laps. The race is set for live telecast on your local ABC station.