IRL: Milwaukee: Qualifying report

Meira Capture Pole Positions at Milwaukee WEST ALLIS, Wis., Saturday, July 24, 2004 -- Rahal Letterman Racing driver Vitor Meira won his first MBNA Pole Award of the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season as he claimed the pole position for the Menards...

Meira Capture Pole Positions at Milwaukee

WEST ALLIS, Wis., Saturday, July 24, 2004 -- Rahal Letterman Racing driver Vitor Meira won his first MBNA Pole Award of the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season as he claimed the pole position for the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 255 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Meira, driver of the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, turned a lap at 21.5781 seconds, 169.338 mph, to win his first pole position since the 2002 season-finale at Texas Motor Speedway.

"The car got better each time we went out on the track," Meira said. "We got better two or three tenths every time. That shows the teamwork we have."

IRL IndyCar® Series points leader Tony Kanaan will start alongside Meira after lapping the 1-mile oval at 21.6730 seconds, 168.597 mph in his No 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice qualified third at 21.7149 seconds, 168.272 mph.

Defending IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will start 14th despite crashing in both practice and qualifying. Dixon was transported to Froedtert Memorial Hospital for precautionary X-rays on his right knee and left ankle. His status will be re-evaluated on July 25.

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Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 Post-Qualifying Notes:

Vitor Meira is the fifth different MBNA Pole Award winner this season. Other pole winners this season are: Buddy Rice (4), Dan Wheldon (2), Helio Castroneves (1) and Dario Franchitti (1).

This is Rahal Letterman Racing's fifth pole position of the season. Buddy Rice won the team's four previous MBNA Pole Awards.

This is the third time that Tony Kanaan has started second in an IndyCar Series race this season.

Jaques Lazier recorded Patrick Racing's best starting position this season -- ninth.

***

IndyCar Series Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 Post-Qualifying Quotes:

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "The car got better each time we went out on the track. We got better two or three tenths every time. That shows the teamwork we have. Centrix and (CEO) Bob Sutton came aboard. (Team co-owner) Bobby Rahal, everyone knows who he is, and he's the man. (Teammate) Buddy Rice and I work well together really well. That's what makes a good teammate."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We struggled a lot in the test. We worked, the whole four guys together, to get a good setup, and I think we nailed it. We're just working towards the race now. That's the advantage to having three teammates. We work so well together. We have six engineers putting their heads together to make a good setup. I was extremely happy with our performance."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "We would've liked to have qualified a little higher, but Marlboro Team Penske has been working so hard on the handling of the car that I think we should be fine for the race. Milwaukee is one of those tracks where setup is key, and I am really happy with how my car is handling this weekend. It'll be tough to pass out there tomorrow, so pit stops will be very important. The crew has been great all year, so hopefully we'll be up near the front throughout the race."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "I was expecting to do a little better in qualifying, but the Marlboro Team Penske car had a tremendous push in Turns 3 and 4, which kept me from improving my time. We're starting in the top five, and I think we've got a pretty good race car, so hopefully, we can bring home a strong finish. Based on practice, it's been tough to pass, so we'll have to execute clean pit stops, stay out of trouble and see how the day plays out."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "That was one of the best qualifying runs I've ever had. I was flat out the whole way around. The car was so good, I was able to go flat even before the green flag. I just have to thank the Pennzoil guys and all the hard work they and Chevy have done to get this thing ready for today. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. We keep getting stronger and stronger each time out, and hopefully, the results will show tomorrow."

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "We were not with the (Patrick Racing) team when they tested here, so the entire weekend, we've been a little bit behind. We're playing a game of catch up. I'm very, very happy. They've taken me under their wing, and we're just starting to build the communication process."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We didn't have a very good first session this morning. The car was not very good, so we made some changes, and the car was pretty good in qualifying. Actually, I'm surprised at how stable the car was. I could have gotten a little more, but in general, I'm pretty happy with the speed we were able to do in qualifying."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The ArcaEx car felt very good. I didn't feel the wind at all, but I'm surprised it wasn't a slightly quicker lap time. I might have been in the wrong gear. With these engines, it's critical to have the right gearing to maintain your momentum. I'm confident we'll have a good setup for the race, but we can finalize that during tomorrow morning's warmup."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer Argent Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "(Teammate) Vitor (Meira) really deserves the pole. Vitor has done an excellent job with this Centrix team, and he has been a very good teammate, too. This is a driver's track and a handling track. We were behind a little on our short-oval setups early in the year, but I think you can see that we have improved on those settings now. Qualifying is always important, but we need to have good race cars. I think we have a strong car for Sunday's race. We need to have a balanced car, so we can run long distances on a set of tires. I know they have run races here without many yellow flags. If that is the case again, we'll need to be consistent throughout our fuel stints, but our Rahal Letterman team is in pretty good shape right now."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): (About crashes in practice and qualifying): "It's very unfortunate to have that happen twice in one day. In this morning's practice, I'm not sure if it was something on the track or I just got a bit loose on cold tires. The Target team worked very hard and quickly to get the back-up car ready for qualifying. I was on my second timed lap when it just wiggled a little, and I tried to catch it. My knee and ankle are a bit sore from being bumped around. The doctors will take a look at it, but I'm sure I'll be good to go for tomorrow's race. It'll be tough to start from the back, but the team gave us a really good car that was fairly quick on Friday. I'm sure we'll be able to do something with it."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I got half way through my first timed lap when I had a bit of a moment through Turns 3 and 4. I completely lost any momentum, and that spoiled both my laps. It's really disappointing, especially since we were quickest this morning and right up there yesterday, too. I know the Target team has given me a good car, so we'll do the best we can with it."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Jaques Lazier  , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing