IRL: Kanaan nabs season first pole at Michigan

IRL: Kanaan nabs season first pole at Michigan

Current IndyCar Series points leader Tony Kanaan will start from the pole position for Sunday's Michigan Indy 400 after qualifying at 215.871 mph. Kanaan, who has been a model of consistency on race day by finishing in the top-five in the last...

Current IndyCar Series points leader Tony Kanaan will start from the pole position for Sunday's Michigan Indy 400 after qualifying at 215.871 mph. Kanaan, who has been a model of consistency on race day by finishing in the top-five in the last eight races, has four career pole positions. This is his first pole this season.

Tony Kanaan.
Photo by Bob Kozel - KOZ DPI.
Kanaan prepared for qualifying by turning the fastest lap of the event in the morning practice session, averaging 216.221 mph around the high-banked two mile Michigan International Speedway.

"We had a good run, no doubt about it. I knew I had a good car from this morning," said Kanaan, "The biggest thing was trying to guess what was going to happen with the conditions. It did change a bit, so I think we were a bit short on gears, but we still managed to put a good lap together."

Helio Castroneves struggled through practice on Friday but managed to find speed overnight, improving from 19th overall on Friday to seventh in this morning's practice session. Castroneves turned his fastest lap of the event during qualifying (214.925 mph) and would have started on the outside of the front row, but the team elected to change the engine for the race and will start 21st.

Helio Castroneves.
Photo by Loran Hygema - KOZ DPI.
"Yesterday, we were working a lot on the low downforce, trying to do a race setup and keep up with the rest of the field. This morning was a phenomenal improvement. Toyota has been working really hard to improve those engines, and it looks like they did."

Kosuke Matsuura, who was second fastest yesterday and this morning, will star third. Kanaan and Matsuura drive Honda-powered cars, Kanaan in a Dallara chassis and Matsuura in a G Force.

"I expected that the speeds would be a bit slower, and we went with a slightly shorter gear," said Matsuura. "I think if I had a longer gear, I would have been able to move up into second place. Starting third is not bad, and hopefully, we will have a good car for the race."

Following the first day of practice, Sam Hornish was the fastest Toyota driver, placing 12th on the day's speed chart. Qualifying results show three Toyotas in the top five. Besides Castroneves, who will start second, Scott Dixon and Sam Hornish Jr. will start fourth and fifth, respectively, in Toyota-powered cars. "We had a fairly decent setup from the start," said Dixon. "Toyota has made some important gains that have been very positive. All of us have just picked up another notch, trying anything we can get back to the level we expect."

Six and seventh starting positions belong to Rahal Letterman Racing teammates Vitor Meira and Buddy Rice. Meira edged his teammate by 0.0112 seconds, with a qualifying speed of 214.089 mph.

"It's always important to qualify at the front," Meira said. "But here at Michigan you need a good race car and I think I have a good one. You are in traffic for so long here that you need to have a combination of power, handling and aerodynamics. This place is different than Indianapolis because you can never get away from anyone. At Indy, you can get away if your car is better but here you get stuck in the pack."

Townsend Bell will start eighth, followed by Andretti Green Racing teammates Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta. Bell's teammate, Tomas Scheckter, who has started on the pole at Michigan in his first two attempts, will start 14th after qualifying at 213.146 mph.

Scheckter said his Chevrolet engine, "had a little bit more power than we expected." Hitting the rev-limiter on the backstretch, "probably cost us half a mile an hour."

Felipe Giaffone, who qualified 20th, will start 22nd tomorrow after the team changes engines in the race car.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Sam Hornish Jr. , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira