A brief rain shower interrupted IRL IndyCar Series qualifying Friday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway, and gave those who ran afterwards the advantage of a slightly cooler track surface. As a result, IndyCar points leader Tony Kanaan,...
A brief rain shower interrupted IRL IndyCar Series qualifying Friday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway, and gave those who ran afterwards the advantage of a slightly cooler track surface. As a result, IndyCar points leader Tony Kanaan, who was second quickest in the 90-degree heat, fell to fifth as the final eight drivers made their qualifying following after the one-hour rain delay. Three of those drivers - Scott Dixon, Sarah Fisher and Tora Takagi - ended up posting the fastest three qualifying speeds.
Honda-powered team owner/driver Grey Ray was another to make a strong run prior to the rain, but his third-best speed, behind defending race winner Sam Hornish and Kanaan, became sixth following the rain delay. Bryan Herta, who will replace Dario Franchitti for the remainder of the IRL season, also ran prior to the rain and will start ninth. Franchitti will soon undergo back surgery to repair damage suffered in an April motorcycle accident and the Scot will miss the rest of the 2003 season.
The remaining Honda-powered drivers were still working to improve various handling issues on the tight Richmond circuit, at 0.75 miles the shortest on the IRL calendar. Dan Wheldon qualified his Andretti Green Racing entry 12th, with Kenny Brack 15th for Team Rahal and Roger Yasukawa 19th for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing. Saturday's 250-lap event, the second night race of the season, starts at 8 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ESPN.
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda) Qualified 5th (2nd quickest prior to rain shower):
"The car was pretty good during our qualifying run, just a little bit of oversteer that kept me from putting on the power as soon as I would have liked on the back straight. But we were looking pretty good until the rain came. Obviously, some of those who ran later had an advantage, but that's just the way it goes sometime. We know we have a good race car in traffic, and that will come in handy tomorrow night."