IRL: Nashville: Friday notebook 2003-07-18

FIRESTONE INDY 200/CLEANEVENT 100 DAY 1 NOTES Dixon wins third straight MBNA Pole; Taylor wins Infiniti Pro Series event LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 18, 2003 -- Scott Dixon won the MBNA Pole on July 18 for the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville ...

FIRESTONE INDY 200/CLEANEVENT 100 DAY 1 NOTES Dixon wins third straight MBNA Pole; Taylor wins Infiniti Pro Series event

LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 18, 2003 -- Scott Dixon won the MBNA Pole on July 18 for the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, his third consecutive MBNA pole.

Dixon turned a track-record lap of 22.6952 seconds, 206.211 mph in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. It was his fourth pole of the season, as he earned the top spot in April at Twin Ring Motegi based on practice speeds due to a qualifying rainout.


Scott Dixon won the MBNA Pole for the Firestone Indy 200. It is the third consecutive MBNA Pole for Dixon as he won the MBNA Pole at the last two races, at Richmond and Kansas. The only other driver to win three consecutive MBNA Poles was Billy Boat, who won four consecutive in 1998. He won the poles at Pikes Peak, Atlanta, Texas (second race) and Las Vegas. This is the fourth time Dixon will start on the pole this season, he started on the pole in Japan after rain washed out qualifying and the lineup was determined by practice speeds.

Helio Castroneves qualified second today. His two qualifying laps were separated by .0001 of a second. His first lap was 22.7917 seconds, 205.338 mph, while his second lap was 22.7916, 205.339. Interestingly, on July 5 at Kansas, Dan Wheldon qualified 13th, and his two qualifying laps were separated by .0001 of a second. His first lap was 25.4644 seconds, 214.888 mph, while his second lap was 25.4645, 214.887.

With Scott Dixon starting on the MBNA Pole for the Firestone Indy 200, it marks the fifth time this season that a driver for Target Chip Ganassi Racing will start on the pole. It's the team's fourth pole in the last five races and its fifth in the last seven. Dixon started on the pole at Kansas, Motegi and Richmond, while Tomas Scheckter won the MBNA Pole at Texas.

Scott Dixon won the MBNA Pole today using a Toyota engine. Toyota-powered cars have now sat on the pole for six of the last seven IRL IndyCarTM Series events. The only exception coming when qualifying was washed out at Pikes Peak in June with the starting grid decided by practice times, as Honda-powered Tony Kanaan earned the top spot.

Tora Takagi qualified third today, tying his career-best IndyCar Series qualifying effort. He qualified third at Motegi, Texas, Richmond and Kansas. At Richmond, he qualified third but started 22nd after he crashed his primary car in the final practice and was forced to used his backup car in the race.

Defending Nashville event champion Alex Barron qualified sixth and is substituting for 2001 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone, who suffered a broken leg and pelvis in a race crash July 6 at Kansas. Series leader Tony Kanaan, 31 points ahead of second-place Dixon, qualified 10th. Bryan Herta, who won the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6 qualified seventh.


TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"I don't what happened. We lost a lot of speed, so we'll see. It was definitely not a good qualifying result."

ALEX BARRON (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):

"It's amazing that I'm here talking about qualifying in the top six. It's been less than 72 hours since we announced that I was going to be here driving Felipe's (Giaffone's) car. Everything's been great so far. We had a little hiccup at the end of the second practice today, but we got that fixed, and the Hollywood car did its job during my qualifying run. We didn't get quite as much qualifying speed as we would have liked, but I think we'll be in great shape for tomorrow night. That's the most important thing. There's been no problem getting accustomed to working with the Hollywood/Mo Nunn team. They're a bunch of experienced guys, and we have a history together that goes all the way back to Indy. It's only my third race of the season, but the consistency has been that the Toyota-powered (Panoz) G Force package is the only one I've had to deal with this year, and it seems to be the best thing going. It's a proven package, and it's won quite a few races this year. We hope to add the latest one tomorrow night. The key will be to stay in the event all night long. People try to pass here, and there isn't always room to pass. I don't know why that is, but there always seems to be something happening out there here. Overall, it just feels good to be back in a car. We hope to make the most of it, even though we've only had a very short time to get ready."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"Qualifying was pretty good. The car was real good; it felt good. We think we've got a little better car, actually, in race trim than in qualifying trim. We'll fill it up with fuel and see what it does this afternoon."

Do you have any momentum coming from your win at Kansas

"Yeah, it definitely helps, no question. But, you still have to race these guys. You've got to start all over again this weekend. It's a feel-good thing, but it doesn't make you any faster. You've got to keep working for that."

About Nashville?

"It's nice. It's different because of the concrete. For me, visually it's so different because the concrete is white instead of the black asphalt. It takes a little getting used to, just figuring out how to set up the car for this surface."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"It seemed pretty good today. Hopefully, we can keep it this way for the rest of the season. It's been pretty good. It would be nice if we could keep it this way for the rest of the season. Obviously, I think Team Target has done a great job, as well as Toyota and G Force. We definitely have the speed. We just need some more consistency. It's getting better. I think we've finally got our fuel problems in control. I think that now we will be able to stay in it for the full length of the race. I think it will be a little different racing here at night because it is a little lighter than the other tracks that we run at. It will be definitely different than Richmond because the lights went out. I haven't had a problem this year in seeing." (On the concrete track and being bumpy): "The first day I had a little bit of a headache, but that is something that you get used to. Overall, the corners are feeling smooth. They get smoother the more rubber gets on the track."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"We started in the same position last year here. We have found some really good information as a team, and I think now we can really step it up a bit. It would be great to keep the good performances going. We've been working very hard all these days. I know it's not 1.5 miles, but it's close, so we found good steps and so now we can really step up. So hopefully for the race tomorrow night we can keep our car up front. The season in general has been very positive. We had a bit of bad luck in the beginning of the season. Toyota has done a phenomenal job this year. Hopefully my wish (to win) will come true. Hopefully I can climb the fence here." (On country music) "I don't intend to do anything with that here. My teammate (Gil de Ferran) doesn't have a very good voice, not saying that I have a good voice. In Brazil they do have country. It is different, though. Mostly it is duet singing."


Mark Taylor won the Cleanevent 100 Infiniti Pro Series race July 18 at Nashville Superspeedway. Taylor led all 77 laps of the event en route to victory in his No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

There were only two caution periods during the event. Ed Carpenter brushed the wall in Turn 4 on Lap 22 and spun into the grass between pit road the mainstretch. On Lap 73 Brandon Erwin, while in third place, spun exiting Turn 4, but did not make wall contact.

*Mark Taylor won his fourth career IRL Infiniti Pro Series event. His three other victories came this year at Homestead-Miami, Phoenix and Kansas. His four victories tie him with A.J. Foyt IV for most career victories and victories is a season. Foyt had four victories in the 2002 season.

*Mark Taylor won from the pole position. He also won from the pole at Phoenix. Tom Wood finished second, a career best. His previous best finish was third at Chicagoland in 2002 and Kansas in 2003.

*Ross Fonferko finished third in the Cleanevent 100, his first Infiniti Pro Series race.

*Mark Taylor led all 77 laps en route to victory, marking the third time that a driver has led every lap in an Infiniti Pro Series event. Ryan Hampton led all 80 laps en route to victory in 2002 at Gateway and Mark Taylor led all 100 laps en route to victory at Phoenix in 2003.

*Mark Taylor leads the points 271-175 over Thiago Medeiros and Ed Carpenter, who are tied for second.


BRANDON ERWIN (No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone):

"We had a decent race car, but it was hard to deal with in traffic. It was pushing real bad. I can't say enough about the No. 99 Sam Schmidt/Natural Golf team. They're doing all they can for me, and hopefully we'll continue to go to the front and do well in Michigan."

CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"We had a good sixth-place car. I don't think we had the car to win this weekend. I think the car was good for where we finished, fifth or sixth place. Seeing the place we started the race in, I wish we could have finished a little better than that. It was all right, but it could have been a lot better. I think we were down on horsepower a little bit."

JONATHAN URLIN (No. 3 Budget Rent A Car of Canada Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"I think we bent the front end a little bit. I just bent the geometry. We were just trying to keep it on the track and just finish the race for A&M Truck parts, AT&T Wireless and Budget Rent-a-Car. We wanted to bring the No. 3 home safely. We will try to turn it around next week. I'm looking forward to running in a big pack of cars at Michigan and being able to be there wide open right from the start. The concrete was a little bumpy at the start, but then you just get used to it. It is fun to drive on."

DAVE STEELE (No. 33 CURB Records Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"We just sucked. That's pretty much it. Sometimes you just suck, and you just can't put your finger on it. That's kind of the way it was for us. As the race went on, we just picked up a bad push. It progressively got worse as the race went on. I tried to make adjustments in the car, but it didn't help. Those cockpit adjustments are just kind of band-aids. If you're way out of whack, it's not going to bring you back into the ballpark. That's just the way it goes sometimes."


Defending Firestone Indy 200 winner Alex Barron, who is substituting for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, led the final practice session. Barron turned a lap of 22.9691 seconds, 203.572 mph. Kansas Indy 300 winner Bryan Herta was second fastest in the No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone at 23.0068, 203.418. Rookie Roger Yasukawa was third fastest at 23.0359, 203.161 in the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Felipe Giaffone , Billy Boat , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Brandon Erwin , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Roger Yasukawa , Tom Wood , Chip Ganassi , Ed Carpenter , Mo Nunn , Thiago Medeiros
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing