IRL: Scott Dixon takes Pole at Nazareth

IRL: Scott Dixon takes Pole at Nazareth

Scott Dixon took the pole for tomorrow's Firestone Indy 225 with a speed of 171.182 mph. His speed on the oddly-shaped one mile oval was was shy of Gil de Ferran's pole record of 172.778 mph set last year, but Scott enjoyed the run and the ...

Scott Dixon took the pole for tomorrow's Firestone Indy 225 with a speed of 171.182 mph. His speed on the oddly-shaped one mile oval was was shy of Gil de Ferran's pole record of 172.778 mph set last year, but Scott enjoyed the run and the track.

Scott Dixon.
Photo by Michael Kim.
"It's a lot of fun," he said of the so-called roval. "It's a lot different to any other place you go to. You've got three very different corners, and you have a bit of elevation. You don't really find that at too many ovals. I like it. It's a short track, and we've been doing really well this year on those.

"The team has been great, and we've been able to qualify 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 going 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 race, we'll be all right."

Helio Castroneves joins Scott on the front row, with a speed of 170.849 mph. He agrees with Dixon about the odd pleasures Nazareth. "It's tough because you have three corners, and that's the way you should be thinking about it. It's very difficult to understand, but once you figure it out it's a lot of fun." As far as his car's performance, he is satisfied. "The car is very good, very consistent. I just hope we'll be fast tomorrow."

Current point leader Tony Kanaan qualified third at 170.259 mph. Although he was fifth quickest in yesterday's practice, he was decidedly unhappy with the car. "We definitely made a big improvement. The whole 7-11 team did a great job - that's why we stick together all the time. When I'm not happy, we go back to the truck, we talk about it, and we come back here. That's the result. I'm pleased."

Tony was pleased enough to put everything into his qualifying run. "It was a wild one," he said. "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 Dixon's and Helio's times, but we'll see tomorrow what's going to happen."

Kanaan is joined on the second row by Tomas Scheckter, teammate to pole sitter Dixon. Scheckter took a chance on track conditions improving with time, waiving his original first-out position in the qualifying order. That cut him down to only one lap. "I thought we still had a good chance for the pole," he said afterwards. "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 only get one timed lap. Everything is so close at the moment. I'll go have a look at the data. I'm pretty happy that I worked a lot on our race car, so we'll see tomorrow."

Two-time Indy Racing champion Sam Hornish Jr. struggled, winding up in seventh place with a speed of 168.517 mph. "We went a little slower than anticipated," he said. "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. 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."

Sarah Fisher, voted as Indy Racing's most popular driver, also struggled with qualifying, but appeared to be in good position with a respectable speed of 166.170 mph, fast enough for the outside of the sixth row, next to teammate Robbie Buhl. "We didn't practice for a qualifying setup yesterday," she said, "and today a clutch line mishap prevented us from getting any warmup in. 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."

Unfortunately, Sarah spun in Turn 3 shortly before the end of final practice today, and hit the outside retaining wall with the left rear of the car. She was awake and alert after the incident, but was transported by air to Lehigh Valley Hospital for evaluation of back pain.

Tora Takagi qualified 20th in his primary No. 12 car, off the pace at 160.829 mph. Mo Nunn Racing withdrew that car, and announced that the team will use the No. 12T car and start 20th.

Tomorrow is expected to bring action and a hard time passing. Being able to pass during the race is on everybody's mind on this notoriously one-groove track. Not only in the battle for position, but in the lapping of slower cars, as is routine on a short track. "After qualifying," explained pole sitter Dixon, "you've got everybody in order, from the fastest to the slowest. It gets difficult to pass because you're going at such similar speeds. During the race it will be a little different, with cars going off and not having the speed. Some of the backmarkers you'll pass fairly easy, but once you get to mid-pack and get to cars that are pretty similar speed you're going to really struggle."

The race will begin at 3:00 p.m. Sunday. It will be telecast live on ESPN.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Sarah Fisher , Robbie Buhl , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn , Michael Kim