IRL: Michigan: Chip Ganassi Racing qualifying report

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#9 Scott Dixon- Toyota / Panoz /Firestone

Scott Dixon posted the fastest speed in the second practice (219.688 mph / 32.7738 seconds) and after posting the fourth fastest qualifying lap, will have his best starting position of the 2005 season.

"Things started out pretty decent for us this weekend. The Target crew put in a fresh Toyota engine between practices and you could see pretty clearly the gains they have made. Toyota has been working very hard and it's a very positive step forward for us as a team and hopefully that will get the momentum going. The Target Toyota Panoz is very comfortable on the high line. I was happy with the car in the race last year and we've improved on that so we're expecting to do well here at Michigan. We're hoping to break the cycle this weekend and get back some of the consistency we're used to."

#33 Ryan Briscoe- Toyota / Panoz /Firestone

"Our qualifying position may not show it but we're looking pretty good. It's very high speed and while it's my first time here, I feel a lot of similarities to Texas without the extreme banking. Scott's (Dixon) results today are really positive so we'll look at the data and go from there. From what I've heard, races at Michigan are always really exciting so I'm looking forward to it."

#10 Jaques Lazier- Toyota / Panoz /Firestone

"I'm really happy with today's efforts. It's my first day with the team and there are some small things we're working out but we're making some good gains every time out there. There was still some speed left in the car and I'm feeling really comfortable. The goal wasn't to win pole. The goal is to win the race. We had a good solid run and from our 15th place I feel like we can really do something positive."

"The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of ...."-- The scenic Irish Hills of southeastern Michigan will reverberate with the sounds of IndyCars this weekend as Target Chip Ganassi Racing makes its annual visit to Michigan International Speedway for the 11th of 17 races on the 2005 schedule. Designed by Charles Moneypenny, who also designed the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway, the Michigan track sits on more than 1,400 acres and is one of the oldest two-mile facility boasting a 37-year history. With 18 degree banking and 73-foot wide sweeping turns, Michigan International Speedway provides drivers with three grooves to run around the two-mile D-shaped speedway for 200 laps/ 400 miles.

An Offer He Couldn't Refuse--Michigan native Francis Ford Coppola's famous catch phrase, from the "Godfather" movies he produced and directed, would aptly describe what Jaques Lazier felt when Chip Ganassi offered him the chance to take the helm of the no.10 Target Toyota Panoz this weekend at Michigan International Speedway for the Firestone Indy 400. Lazier takes over the seat previously occupied by Darren Manning, with whom the team parted ways earlier in the week.

"We were very glad that a driver of Jaques Lazier's caliber was available to the Target team this weekend," said Target team owner Chip Ganassi of the 34-year-old Vail, Colo. native. "We look forward to working with him on a race to race basis and getting him to the front."

"We're happy to be able to add an American driver with a wealth of oval racing experience to our arsenal," said Team Managing Director, Mike Hull of the addition of Lazier. "The Target team is looking forward and we hope the introduction of Jaques into our racing program will help stimulate our team's performance."

Lazier's prior experience with the combination of the Toyota powerplant and Panoz chassis earlier this season at Indianapolis should make for an easy transition into the Target team-prepared machine.

"Being given the chance to drive for Target Chip Ganassi Racing is obviously a dream come true," says Lazier whose maiden race with the Target team will also be his 46th career IndyCar start. "Since the first day they joined the Indy Racing League it was a team you looked at with a degree of envy. I'd always wanted to be part of a team like this and I feel like the first 45 races of my career have been the testing ground for this kind of opportunity. It's not often that I have been in a situation to be able to share information with teammates and be part of something bigger. I look forward to being a team player and hopefully I can help ignite a spark to get momentum back on the team's side. I hope to make the best of this chance the team has given me here at Michigan."

Lazier, the author of 45 career IndyCar Series starts, will make his debut for the team after most recently driving from 27th on the starting grid to finish 16th in this May's 89th running of the Indianapolis 500. A former racewinner in the series at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001, Lazier joins the Target Chip Ganassi Racing stables with two career poles, 7,550 laps completed and 226 laps led in IndyCar competition.

Checking the Rear View Mirrors-- In 2003, Scott Dixon qualified 2nd and finished 5th at Michigan while last season Dixon qualified third and both Target cars found themselves battling among the leaders at Michigan International Speedway in third and fourth place in the last 25 laps. But, as is often the case at Michigan, with such fast paced action, close competition and wide track, you can't take anything for granted and slight contact on lap 198 of 200 spoiled their efforts, posting 7th and 13th place finishes.

He's Baaaaaack- Ryan Briscoe is back on track this weekend and behind the wheel of the no.33 Target Toyota Panoz after an accident in pre-qualifying practice sidelined him for the Milwaukee race. Briscoe was checked and released by IRL medical staff but did not run the race for precautionary reasons.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road -- The tire specification for MIS is new for 2005, featuring a new left-side tire compound and minor modification to the front-tire construction. The changes were made to help the Firehawks stand up even better to the punishment handed out by the high speeds and loading forces generated at this high-banked superspeedway. On ovals, Firestone purposely molds its right-rear tires with a slightly larger diameter than the left rears to help the Indy cars turn more naturally. This effect is called "stagger." The diameter difference is minor -- 0.39 of an inch this weekend -- but it constitutes a major difference to cars and drivers.

Watch it LIVE--Target fans can tune in to watch the Firestone Indy 400 on ABC Live at 3:00 pm (EDT) on Sunday, July 31st.

Listen Up--Target fans can also listen in to the IndyCar broadcast live by IMS radio Network at 2:30pm (EDT). The IMS Radio broadcast will also be available on XM Satellite Radio Channel 152 "XM Extreme" and web cast on Indycar.com.

Next Stop -- With a rare weekend off in the span of six races in seven weeks, Target Chip Ganassi Racing will be back on track in two weeks time at Kentucky Speedway for the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 on August 14, 2005.

-cgr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Jaques Lazier  , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Mike Hull
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing