IRL: Phoenix: Qualifying report

HERTA CLAIMS FIRST MARLBORO POLE AWARD AVONDALE, Ariz., Friday, March 18, 2005 -- Bryan Herta claimed the first Marlboro Pole Award of his IRL IndyCar® Series career, winning the pole for the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 Presented by Argent ...


AVONDALE, Ariz., Friday, March 18, 2005 -- Bryan Herta claimed the first Marlboro Pole Award of his IRL IndyCar® Series career, winning the pole for the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 Presented by Argent Mortgage.

Herta lapped the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval in 20.3837 seconds, 176.612 mph in the No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone. It was the first pole position for Herta since he won from the pole at Laguna Seca Raceway in 1999 while competing in CART.

Herta's Andretti Green Racing teammate Dan Wheldon qualified second in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry. It was the fourth time AGR teammates have shared the front row.

Patrick Carpentier, Tony Kanaan and Paul Dana did not make qualifying attempts. Carpentier and Dana were involved in practice accidents. Kanaan's team changed engines.


BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm really happy with the time we put up. This run is really for the guys on the XM Satellite Radio crew, because we had a huge crash with this car two weeks ago at Homestead, and they worked their tails off to put it back together. The car is running really well now, and they did a great job. This is fastest that we've run, so I'm happy with it."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car is very strong. We put up a very good time and had a great Open Test here, so I'm looking forward to the race. We're all very competitive and have different strategies, but that will make it fun for the race, for sure."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I thought we had a shot at the pole, but unfortunately we fell a bit short. The Marlboro Team Penske car was good during the qualifying run, and I thought we'd actually be a bit faster. The key thing is that we're starting in the top-three, so hopefully, we can avoid any problems early on. We focused on our race setup during the first practice session, and the car worked well in traffic which will be important tomorrow. We just need to be patient and conservative so we can be there at the end to fight for the win."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No 4. Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "That's all we had for them today. There wasn't much else that we could have done, but we're happy starting from fourth. Our Pennzoil Panther Chevy is working great in race trim, for sure. My guys have been working very hard and have been doing a great job all weekend. We'll just get our race car ready in our last practice session, double-check everything and get ready for the race."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We'd like to have qualified a bit closer to the front, but it was the fastest we've been all weekend, so we'll take it. The Marlboro Team Penske car handled well today, and I've got a great pit crew to keep me in the race tomorrow. We'll have to stay out of trouble and execute on pit stops, and if we take care of those two things we should definitely be near the front on the final lap."

TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm very happy, and we're still going to be OK for tomorrow. This is a challenging track, more so than those high-speed ovals like Homestead. For me and the ROCKSTAR team, it's going to be important to get the mileage tomorrow. I hope tomorrow it doesn't rain. I've run a lot of miles here, and I want to run some more. Our Chevy is very drivable in traffic, and that makes it exciting for the race."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/ Firestone): "This track is a handling track, and we have to stay with the pack early, then we can make the right adjustments after the first tank load. That is what we were planning at Homestead before we had a mechanical problem. I think we have a good handle on our full tank package. We ran a lot of laps in practice with lots of fuel. I think that is pretty comfortable. Traffic will play a major role in the race but we need to have a good solid car early so we can be competitive. We need to score points this weekend and chase the championship. I think Dario (Franchitti's) car is a tick better on the long runs right now, but we are not far from that. I did 50 laps this morning and I'm happy with the car. Sure, qualifying isn't what we wanted, but I think we'll have a good car in the race Saturday. This is an experienced team, and they know the game here at a place like PIR, so I'm confident we can run with the leaders. That is our goal."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We changed the gearing and just missed on it. I was on the rev limiter before the start-finish line. The car drove good, so I think we'll have a good car for Saturday."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Obviously I'm very disappointed to be starting the race from the back of the grid, but I am very happy that Bryan Herta and Dan Wheldon are starting from the front row. I've always said that I'm happy if the team does well, and today that is the case. Team 7-Eleven had an issue with overheating during this morning's practice session, and we changed the engine as a precaution. We have enjoyed a lot of success at PIR, and Andretti Green Racing had a very successful test here last month. Hopefully we have all our gremlins behind us, because we can win the race from the back of the pack."

PATRICK CARPENTIER: (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "I was pushing the car to the limit. Trying to make it very neutral so I wouldn't lose too much time mid-corner. We made it a little bit too neutral, and it just snapped. When I corrected it, it bit me and went straight to the wall. It is unfortunate. I am disappointed. We will keep pushing hard, but we will be a little more careful next time. I was amazed because I am used to hitting the wall without the SAFER barriers. I was expecting a much bigger hit than that, it was still big, but the barrier cushioned the hit. It does its job very well. I am just so disappointed. If it happens in the race when you are fighting that's one thing, but in practice it is so disappointing."

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local
6 a.m. Indy Racing League garage opens
8:15 a.m. IndyCar Series final practice
11 a.m. Phoenix 100 (100 miles, 100 laps); 3 p.m., March 24 (ESPN2)
1 p.m. XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 Presented by Argent Mortgage (200 miles, 200 laps); Live, ABC.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Paul Dana , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske