IRL: Nazareth: Pole qualifying notebook

Dixon wins MBNA pole for Firestone Indy 225. NAZARETH, Pa., Saturday, Aug. 23, 2003 -- Scott Dixon won the MBNA Pole for the Firestone Indy 225 with a lap of 19.6633 seconds, 171.182 mph in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G ...

Dixon wins MBNA pole for Firestone Indy 225.

NAZARETH, Pa., Saturday, Aug. 23, 2003 -- Scott Dixon won the MBNA Pole for the Firestone Indy 225 with a lap of 19.6633 seconds, 171.182 mph in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

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MBNA POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

*Scott Dixon won his fifth MBNA Pole of the season. He joins Billy Boat and Greg Ray as the only drivers to win five poles in a season. Billy Boat won six poles in 1998, and Greg Ray won five poles in 2000.

*Dixon won five MBNA Poles in just 13 races. He ties Boat for least number of races to obtain five poles.

*Dixon won the SunTrust Indy Challenge from the MBNA Pole at Richmond.

*Dixon won the MBNA Pole using a Toyota engine. Toyota has won 10 poles this season.

*Target Chip Ganassi Racing has won seven MBNA Poles this season, five with Dixon and two with Tomas Scheckter. The seven MBNA Poles are an IndyCar Series record.

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MBNA POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It's not bad. We made some good changes overnight, and I was pleased with the Delphi car. We had a lot of ground to make up yesterday. We learned a lot, but I don't know what happened in qualifying. We ran faster in practice than that, but I expected to be two- or three-tenths-of-a-second quicker than that. So we lost some speed somewhere, and I don't know where it is, quite frankly. We went faster through the corners than I did in practice, but our lap time was slower. We'll have to take a look."

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We didn't practice for a qualifying setup yesterday, and today a clutch line mishap prevented us from getting any warm up in. We then had a slight communication problem in qualifying laps, so we had to run with our first lap out. Still, confidence took the wheel today, and we're sitting on a lap speed of 166.170 mph. We started here last year at 19th, and finished fourth, so we'll just see what tomorrow brings. Otherwise, this is a handling track, and we're still a little loose coming out of Turn 2. Here, setup counts for a lot more, so we have to all work together. We'll work on setup the rest of today, and with some history under our belts with the new engine, we'll see what we can get out of the gate with tomorrow.

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We went a little slower than we anticipated. The sun came out and made it a little hotter. We just want to be up near the front. We worked all day on the race car yesterday, and we feel that we have a pretty good setup as far as the race goes, and hopefully it will hold up. This track is one of the toughest tracks we go to. St. Louis and Richmond are probably the most comparable because each corner is different. Yesterday, because we weren't able to come and test here, we had a lot on our plate. But we have a pretty good setup as far as the race car goes. We didn't hit our qualifying package just the way we wanted to. We're more worried about the race, so we spent more time on that."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "This team has been great, and we've been able to qualify really well all season. All of this hard work pays off for everybody in the shop and this is just great for the team. Everything is gelling well for us, and we need to keep focus. Championships aren't easy to win, but I think if we keep doing what we've been doing all year and try to win races, we'll be all right."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a wild one. I tried really hard to get the pole. I was 100 percent on the limit. I almost hit the wall on my second lap trying really hard to come out of the corners. That's the way it is. Unfortunately, I couldn't match (Scott) Dixon's and Helio's (Castroneves) times, but we'll see tomorrow what's going to happen. The whole Team 7-Eleven worked really hard to get us to this point, and we're looking forward to tomorrow. The most important thing is that we gave it our best and that we're close enough to the front. It's better to be first, but I'll take third."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I thought we still had a good chance for the pole. I think we went out in the morning, and the track wasn't as good, and so we thought going out at the end would be better. But you make a sacrifice, you get only one timed lap. Everything is so close at the moment. I'll go have a look at the data. I'm pretty happy that we worked a lot on our race car, so we'll see tomorrow. You have to try to get up to speed right in the beginning. You have to make sure you don't make a mistake. When you have two laps, at least you can try something on one or try to be a little more aggressive. When you've got one lap, you know that's it.

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It was pretty good. Team Toyota has been doing a great job all year with our qualifying runs. Toyota is very strong again here this week, which is good to see. It went well from the start. Tomas (Scheckter) was very quick here yesterday. We just worked on some qualifying stuff for most of the day yesterday to see if we could pick up a bit of speed. We had a good run today although we had a bit of understeer, but it is looking pretty good. I definitely like the smaller tracks, and we go to a lot of them through this season. I just think they're a lot more fun, and this one stands out. The elevation changes and three different corners are something that, through the season, we don't get to see. I just really enjoy this place, and it has some similarities to a road course which make it interesting. We're fighting for the championship. Obviously, at the start of the year we started with two big goals, one being the championship, and the other winning the Indy 500. I wish we had won the '500' so we need to try to win the championship. I think after the first race it really taught us a lot, and we understood that we can be in the fight for the championship."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Today was very, very good. The team has done a hell of a job the whole weekend. Yesterday the track conditions were pretty brutal. Basically, it made our car very slippery. Today I was a little bit slow. I was taking chances and taking chances during qualifying it seemed like the car was accepting every lap. Obviously, when you finish your lap you are like, 'I wish I had one more lap.' That is the way it goes, and I am pretty happy with starting outside on the front row. We need to be strong and consistent, and hopefully that will pay off in the end." (About starting up front): "The lift in Turn 1 is key. When you go into that turn, it is not only a squeeze for the pole sitter but the outside guy there has nowhere to go. Nobody is going to try to do a stupid move and take each other on the first lap. Whoever wins tomorrow is going to have to be good through the traffic. In the past, the race here has been very competitive. You saw last year for example Gil (de Ferran) running out of gas on the last lap. It created a lot of excitement during the race. It is a tough track. There are so many things that you can play that would work to your advantage or some might work against you."

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*Mo Nunn Racing officials have withdrawn the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone that qualified 20th with a lap of 20.9291 seconds, 160.829 mph. The team will use the No. 12T Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone for the race and start 20th.

TOMORROW'S SCHEDULE:
7 a.m. IndyCar Series garage opens
3 p.m. Firestone Indy 225 (225 laps/225 miles) ESPN & IMS Radio Network (live)

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Greg Ray , Billy Boat , Scott Dixon , Chip Ganassi , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing