IRL: Kansas: Qualifying report

KANAAN FOLLOWS MOTEGI WIN WITH POLE AT KANSAS KANSAS CITY, KAN. (Saturday, April 28, 2007) -- Tony Kanaan followed up on his IndyCar Series victory at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 21 with a pole-winning performance at Kansas Speedway on ...

KANAAN FOLLOWS MOTEGI WIN WITH POLE AT KANSAS

KANSAS CITY, KAN. (Saturday, April 28, 2007) -- Tony Kanaan followed up on his IndyCar Series victory at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 21 with a pole-winning performance at Kansas Speedway on Saturday.

Kanaan's pole, the seventh in his IndyCar Series career, was his first since the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and broke a streak of 15 consecutive poles by Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Kanaan lapped the 1.5-mile tri-oval at Kansas Speedway in 25.5476 seconds, 214.188 mph in his No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing car.

Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr., who won at Kansas last year, will start next to Kanaan in the Kansas Lottery Indy 300. Hornish was second-quick with a lap of 25.5710, 213.992.

Hornish's teammate Helio Castroneves and series points leader Dan Wheldon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) will start in Row 2. Ganassi's Scott Dixon and Andretti's Dario Franchitti will start in Row 3.

Danica Patrick was the highest qualifying woman for the race that will feature three female starters for the first time in IndyCar Series history. Patrick will start 10th after turning a lap at 211.796 mph. Sarah Fisher qualified 17th while Milka Duno will start 21st in her debut.

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Foyt offering VIP weekend: A.J. Foyt Enterprises is offering an Indy 500 VIP Weekend to the highest bidder in the Continental Airlines Frequent Flyer Program's OnePass Online Auction.

The winner and a guest will receive two race tickets and two Bronze Badges for the May 26-27 race weekend. They will meet A.J. Foyt and driver Darren Manning in the team's garage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, and watch the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda being prepared for the 91st Indianapolis 500.

The winner and guest also will attend the public drivers meeting and tour the garage area. The next day the winner and guest will have reserved seats to watch the race. Bidders can participate by logging on to www.continental.com and click on the OnePass Frequent Flyer tab, Use Miles tab, then click on the OnePass Online Auction. The Indy 500 package is listed in the Sports section. The auction will close at 9:30 a.m. (EDT) May 18.

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Indianapolis Woman Magazine profiles three women drivers: The May issue of "Indianapolis Woman Magazine" contains a story about the possibility of three women -- Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick and Milka Duno -- qualifying for the 91st Indianapolis 500 for the first time. The free publication is available at retailers around Indianapolis.

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CNBC filming ethanol special: A crew from CNBC is at Kansas Speedway this weekend recording material for a special on the IndyCar Series' use of ethanol that will air on Carb Day, May 25, two days before the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500. The crew has interviewed IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti, Sam Hornish Jr., Danica Patrick, Scott Sharp and Jeff Simmons.

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Wheldon, Simmons preen at Us Hot Hollywood Style party: As Gene Simmons walked the gold carpet at the Us Hot Hollywood Style party April 26 with Dan Wheldon, the rock icon turned to the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion and said, "Cue the smile," just before entering a dazzling array of camera flashes and lights.

The Briton and the bassist for KISS joined other "A List" celebrities for the soiree at the LA club Sugar. The party honored Us Weekly's Style Icon of the Year Jennifer Lopez, who lived up to the award in a white Ralph Lauren pantsuit and Versace shoes.

"There obviously were a lot of beautiful women there," said Wheldon, who declined to provide a top 10 list.

Past winners of the magazine's annual style award have included Jessica Alba and Jessica Simpson. In addition to handing out a top prize, the magazine also singled out seven men and women for their fashion sense, dubbing them the "Hot 7 in '07."

Wheldon was interviewed for "Extra," "Entertainment Tonight," and "Access Hollywood" among other syndicated shows and periodicals.

Wheldon, who was scheduled to fly to Kansas City early April 27 for the start of his race weekend in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, had to leave the club before the party really got rolling. There was time to mingle and hang out with ("American Idol" host) Ryan Seacrest, ("Sopranos" star) Jamie Lynn Siegler and Simmons.

"The event was a lot of fun. Everybody was there."

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Russell Mason Enterprises wins ABC Supply's 'Your Name Here' contest for the Kansas Lottery Indy 300. Russell Mason Enterprises, an ABC Supply roofing customer based in Wichita, Kansas, won ABC Supply's 'Your Name Here' contest. Russell Mason Enterprises will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda for the Kansas Lottery Indy 300, and the contractor will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a meet-and-greet with Darren Manning and A.J. Foyt. The "Your Name Here" promotion selected winners by random drawing from a pool of entries sent in by ABC Supply customers earlier this year.

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Rinaman back in Penske pit: After Rick Rinaman's 23-year streak was broken last week, the chief mechanic for Helio Castroneves' No. 3 Team Penske car didn't want to start another.

So Rinaman, who had not missed a race since the start of the 1984 season (367 consecutive races) before undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon, was back on pit lane at Kansas Speedway. On crutches. He obviously won't be changing the right front tire in the Kansas Lottery Indy 300, but is "doing what I can to help."

"I'm trying to take my doctor's advice. He told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as I didn't put weight on it. It's just good to be back and doing what I do. I'm fortunate I have guys here who can step up and take care of business."

Rinaman injured his leg more than two months ago and was told he had a tear in his calf muscle. However, when his injury did not heal, he sought a second opinion. The injury was compounded as Rinaman walked on it for seven weeks.

Sean Hanrahan has been filling in for Rinaman, who hopes to be part of the over-the-wall team for race day at Indianapolis with a walking boot.

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New tire for Kansas: Each car received eight sets of Firestone Firehawks (32 total) for the race weekend. The tires, new for Kansas Speedway, were developed based on testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway in December and used in the season opener at the 1.5-mile racetrack. They also will be used in June at Texas Motor Speedway.

"Having run this particular tire earlier this year at Homestead, Firestone Racing is confident that the Firehawks will give the drivers the extra grip and confidence they need to race as hard as ever and put on a great show for the fans," said Al Speyer, executive director of Firestone Racing.

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Duno gets help from Pancho Carter: Indy car veteran Pancho Carter, who has spotted and acted as driver coach for many drivers, is playing that same role for IndyCar Series rookie Milka Duno, who will make her series debut Sunday.

PANCHO CARTER: "Basically what I do is a spotter role. In addition to that, I try to instruct the driver. I've worked with (Sam) Hornish and (Dan) Wheldon and quite a few other drivers. More with Milka, our procedures are a little bit different that what she's used to, so we're working basically with her on that. I was here for the (rookie) test, worked with her on her line, the fast line, what happens during the race as far as people passing her, what you need to do if you're going to overtake a car. Basically all the things that drivers in the league have experienced and know. Just trying to bring her up to speed a bit faster and guide her in the right direction and give her some insight in how she can improve her performance.

"It's a role I fell into when Panther hired me a few years ago. I started spotting for Scott Goodyear when we still had him, and then we got Sam Hornish and kind of brought him along, worked with him for three years. And then we had Dan Wheldon for a couple of races. It's turned into something I do quite a bit. I'm doing a couple of Indy Pro Series drivers also, and I was at Indy for that test working with Mike Potekhen and Ken Losch with Apex Racing. It's fun. I can relate a lot of my experiences to them, and I think a lot of the time it helps. A lot of the times, the engineer and the driver have trouble drawing information out. Sometimes I can talk on driver's terms with the drivers, and all of a sudden we get the input that we want and start heading the right direction."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske): "I had eight races in the IndyCar Series before I worked with Pancho. Pancho was super about trying to teach me whatever he could. I think a little bit of it was trying to maintain my calmness and keeping me focused all the time on the right things, not getting worried about anything that was happening wrong out there. He was very even-keel most of the time about what he had to say on the radio. He didn't really get bent out of shape or fly off the handle or anything like that.

"Pancho's been through all those experiences. If I had it do over again and would've had the opportunity to work with Pancho right off the bat, I think I probably would've won a couple more races. The best thing that you can do is get a way to get experience. If it's actually you experiencing it or somebody else being able to give you some forethought as to what you might experience and how you might get through it easier would be awesome."

(About making his first IndyCar Series start): "I was in a sink or swim situation. I didn't have anything else going. If that didn't work out, I probably was done, so there were a lot of nerves. But, by the time I got the opportunity with Panther, I knew I had a full season as long as I didn't make any mistakes that I had a lot of time to show what I was capable of. I would have to see that she's probably in a little bit better position than I was at that point. It's still always hard because it's something new. You don't know how it's going to work out. You can plan and try and work real hard to make things happen right, but you're never sure if you're going to do all the right things. Chance are you're probably not, but how quickly you learn is how people regard you."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "When I was with Panther Racing, Pancho helped me. He was primarily on Sam's car, but during tests he would speak to me on the radio about my line and stuff like that. He's a guy that's very experienced and been around. It's amazing when you're up at the top, you get a good view of different lines. When you're in the race car, having that view from the top can speed up your learning process. He was great from there. The guy's a straight shooter. He tells you exactly how it is, so it's good from that standpoint.

In trying to speed up Milka's development, it would be great to have a driver who is relatively up to date with these cars, because it's very difficult out there. Some of these tracks that we race at are very comfortable flat out on your own, but in the race that changes."

(About making his first IndyCar Series start): "It's different. When you want to be an Indy Car driver, you want to be there for a long time, and you feel like you have to prove a lot to everybody and you feel like you have to prove to yourself that you can do it. Not always are you going to get an opportunity. I created an opportunity for myself, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do that but also to try and show other people that I could do it."

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POST-QUALIFYING NOTES

* Tony Kanaan will start from the pole for the first time since the 2005 Indianapolis 500, a span of 29 races. This is Kanaan's seventh career pole in the IndyCar Series.

* This is Andretti Green Racing's first pole since Dario Franchitti won the pole at St. Petersburg in 2006.

* This is Andretti Green Racing's first pole on an oval since Dario Franchitti ended the 2005 season with a pole at California Speedway.

* Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing had won the past 15 poles dating back to Franchitti's pole at St. Petersburg in 2006.

* Sam Hornish Jr. will start second, tying his highest starting position this season, which he accomplished at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

* Tomas Scheckter qualified a season-best seventh. He was eighth in each of the last two races.

* Vitor Meira qualified a season-best eighth. His previous best was ninth at St. Petersburg.

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POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified first): "In this series, you can never be that greedy thinking you're going to win the race starting from the pole. We try to win every race. It's great momentum and a very good start to the season for Team 7-Eleven as far as results. It's been my best average since 2004 when I won the championship. We're building it up and we will see what we can do.

"It's a better starting position than last year. I had to pass close to seven cars in the first lap last year at Kansas. So I guess I won't have to pass any this year, people will be trying to pass me."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "We started second here last year and won the race, so maybe it's a good omen we're starting second. Anyone in the top 10 can work their way through the traffic if you have a good handling car. I see a lot more closeness in the first six to seven cars than there was at the Homestead race."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "To be honest, I was a little nervous to qualify, because we couldn't find the speed we were looking for in practice. But the Team Penske crew came up big for qualifying. I'm extremely happy - I wasn't expecting to be in such good shape for tomorrow. My race engineer Ron (Ruzewski) really did a great job getting the car set up this afternoon just like he's been doing all season. He makes me look like the man, but he is definitely the man. So far everything is looking good and as long as we keep up the hard work we should be fine. We're going to make sure we stay patient and focused so we're there at the end of the race to earn valuable points heading into the Indy 500."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I think the race is going to be tight. I think we are going to have to go do some work to make sure we're fast enough in the race because I think we are a little bit better than what we were (in qualifying). We definitely have the ability to be very quick but I don't think we have it right just yet and we will need to improve that tomorrow."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "They made a couple of changes to the car, with taking the wheel covers off and things like that so it is going to add a bit more drag to the car and make the racing a little better. You can't get it much better here; it's always good here."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "It was a tough day for us. In the second session, I felt the car was very good in race trim. Of course then we had the electrical problem that kept us from doing any qualifying simulations. Then we only got to do one qualifying lap, so that really put a dent in our plans for the Canadian Club car. I think we're in good condition for tomorrow. I am really looking forward to it. It was a big team performance today with TK (Tony Kanaan) on the pole. Now, hopefully we'll be up there battling with him for the win."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "We did the best we could. It was a little bit off our quickest, but we put a good car together. Overall it was a good job. It was a good job by everybody on the crew, and I'm happy with that qualifying."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "This was our best time of the day. The Delphi Panther team keeps improving. I'm sure the race setup will be great, and we've had a good run today. Everybody has worked so hard the past week to get this car ready I think tomorrow I will get them a good reward. We are competitive and will be even more competitive tomorrow. We're going to work hard to get a win."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "I feel good about the qualifying run. We've really worked on the race setup. We'll have to get a good start. My main concern is getting the NYSE car with the lead group right away. If we can do that, then we'll be good. The qualifying run was the quickest lap of the weekend for the NYSE car. But, after my run I just really wanted to see TK (Tony Kanaan) keep the pole. This is a good mile and a half oval and I am ready for tomorrow's race."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 13th): "I would have liked to have been a little bit quicker. We went just a little bit quicker in that last practice. I was hoping to at least match that, but the car is really good. The race car was good today, and we should be moving up toward the front tomorrow."

MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 21st): "It was a successful day, though we know we don't have the speed. We kept learning in practice and we'll learn more in the race. All in all, I feel really good that I've gotten through my first qualifying session. I was hoping for some more speed, but I had it pretty much topped out. It was a little frustrating because I was right there at the top of what the car could do in its present setup and I wanted to be able to break through for some additional speed - but we're missing a few aerodynamic updates on the car that we just haven't received yet that will ultimately reduce some drag and make the car more slippery. If we'd have had them our time would have been much better, and so I'm really looking forward to see what we can do once we have the car just the way we'd like it. The team has been simply fantastic and we've had great spirit. They're a great bunch of guys. My driving coach Pancho Carter was with me all the way and it was fantastic having him on board with us.

"Tomorrow will be another first experience for me and the team, and we're really very excited for this. I know that we'll all be doing our best for our debut race and we're all really looking forward to it. We've reached our goal to start our first race and know we're on to our next goal -- to finish our first race successfully. We have a lot of positive energy and are anxious to put ourselves through the paces and to get our first start under our belts."

SARAH FISHER (No. 4 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 17th): "That's all it had by itself. We've been trying to work on a package and make it fast. It's not nearly as fast as it needs to be, obviously. We'll figure it out though. We will be a lot better than we were in Motegi. It's taking what you've got and making the best of it."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 22 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 15th): "I'm a little disappointed. The car didn't really feel too much different except a little hotter. Going out first probably didn't really help anything, but we will take what we've got and go race."

DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 11th): "It's been good so far. We worked out a lot of things at Homestead and Motegi on what I like on the ABC car and we're just progressing forward. The car is comfortable and I'm confident. You never can tell what you have relative to everyone else until qualifying -- that's the true test of speed. We've got a good baseline setup, and now we can massage on it and fine tune it for that extra tenth or two. Now we can start taking advantage of some of the things we've learned in the wind tunnel tests we've had. We're a work in progress."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 12th): "The Panasonic team worked hard this week. Twelfth isn't bad considering how small the gap is between Vitor and I. The track condition wasn't great when I did my run because I was one of the first drivers to go. Our goal is to finish the race and get some of the points we need."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Patron Sharp Rahal-Letterman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 14th): "I'm a big fan of running my best lap in qualifying instead of practice, so that was a good setup for us. I think we'll have a good day tomorrow. We ran a lot of full-tank laps in practice and worked on having a good car in the draft, and that's what counts here because we'll be in traffic all day tomorrow, so being good in the draft will be the key to doing well."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified): "We got as much out of the car in qualifying as we did in practice, so that's a good sign for us. It wasn't a bad day for us. We tend to have better race cars than we do in qualifying so we are thinking positive and we think that we could end up with a top-five finish tomorrow if things play out right. I think the cooler temperatures tomorrow will tighten the field up even more than last year, which should make for a great race for the fans."

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , Sarah Fisher , Scott Sharp , Scott Goodyear , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Pancho Carter , Ken Losch , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises , Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing