IRL: Texas: Qualifying report

SHARP NOTCHES POLE FOR BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550K AT TEXAS FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 8, 2007 -- Scott Sharp claimed his first IndyCar Series pole position in more than five years, winning the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award for the Bombardier...


FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 8, 2007 -- Scott Sharp claimed his first IndyCar Series pole position in more than five years, winning the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award for the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway.

Sharp, driving the No. 8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Rahal Letterman Racing, posted a quick lap of 215.260 mph (24.3334 seconds) to seize his first pole start since August 2001 at Kentucky Speedway, and his sixth in the IndyCar Series.

Sam Hornish Jr. (214.518) will start on the front row for the third time this season, while IndyCar Series points leader Dario Franchitti (214.411) and Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan (213.844) will share Row 2.

Scott Dixon, who crashed his primary Target Chip Ganassi Racing car during the afternoon practice session, qualified seventh in his backup car.


The third annual Sam Hornish Jr. Celebrity Bowling Tournament on June 6 to benefit Speedway Children's Charities Texas Chapter raised a record $125,000. The three-year total reached $308,500.

Celebrity bowlers included two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves, Rahal Letterman Racing's Scott Sharp and Jeff Simmons, and Dallas Cowboys players Martin Gramatica, Keith Davis, Abram Elam and Damarius Bilbo. Also participating was former OIympic gymnast Kurt Thomas and Tarek Saab from the TV show "The Apprentice."

"Each year the event gets bigger and better," Hornish said. "I was particularly pleased to see the diversity of the celebrities, which shows that this tournament is reaching people outside the racing community."


Pro Football Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, a former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, will give the command to start engines for the Bombardier Learjet 550k.

There's a twist. Staubach will give the command from inside a Learjet.


Niki Danielson, Jeff Kargola and Kenny Bartram will provide pre-race entertainment. The Freestyle Motocross Pro Riders will be performing stunts seen during X Games competitions. Danielson is in his rookie season in X Game motorcross competition while Kargola is a veteran of the X Games and has numerous motorcross championships under his belt. Bartram is credited as one of the best freestyle riders in recent history, winning the X Games Best Trick gold in 2001.



* This is Scott Sharp's first AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award of the season and the sixth pole of his career. His last pole came at Kentucky in August 2001.

* This is Scott Sharp's first pole position at Texas Motor Speedway. He's started 16 of the previous 17 events at Texas.

* This is the 10th pole position for Rahal Letterman Racing in the IndyCar Series. Its last pole came with Danica Patrick at Chicagoland in September 2005.

* Sam Hornish Jr., qualified second for the third time this season.


SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Patron Sharp Rahal Letterman Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award winner): "Wow, that sounds good. Polesitter. It's been a long time since someone has said that. I just can't say enough. We've been a little behind, no doubt, this year. Anyone that is not one of the top three teams is a little behind. The Patron Rahal Letterman team has been working really hard. We thrashed trying to just learn about the car. We forsaked a little bit of speed there just trying to learn about the car and it's starting to pay off. Some of the things we did really loosened us up pretty good for Indy but those are the kind of things that work better on a banked track and we showed that it has. The minute the guys rolled the car off the trailer, it has been right on. We've hadn't had to make a lot of changes and it worked well in race trim last night, as everybody did, I think, working that for the race. We had to make a few changes over night just to trim the car out a little bit but I'm really pleased. I never thought we'd run that quick."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "We thought we would be able to run somewhere between 213.9 to 214.4, so we were a little better than we expected. Obviously, we didn't have enough to get the job done, but I'm real proud of the Penske guys. We would much rather win tomorrow than today."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "I think we are reasonably happy with the Canadian Club car we've got for the race. Only time will tell though. It is a longer race, which is certainly more interesting for the fans. I think it is going to be a lot different for the race than it was for qualifying, and hopefully we've got the car to do the job."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "Our run was OK. Being the first one to qualify is a bit tough because as time goes by, it gets cooler and cooler, and I think the track conditions changed a little bit after my run to make it a little quicker. This is Texas, and I can tell you that qualifying really doesn't matter. It's going to be an exciting race. I'm starting next to my teammate Dario (Franchitti) and the Team 7-Eleven car will make its way to the front soon enough."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "We spent most of our time during the practice sessions working on the race setup of the Team Penske car. Unfortunately, our practice session today was shortened because of the (Scott Dixon) accident, and we weren't able to get much time on a clear track for simulated qualifying runs. However, we ended up about where we thought we would be this afternoon. We would have liked to be on the pole, but we ran our best times of the race weekend during qualifying, so all in all we're pretty pleased. This race is all about how your car handles in traffic, and I'm confident that we'll be just fine as long as everyone uses good judgment on the track tomorrow. As always is the case in Texas, I expect a really close race, and hopefully we'll come out on top for the second year in a row."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "I'm disappointed we didn't go faster than we did with the Motorola car. We were better than that before qualifying. I think our race car is decent. We seem to be able to run in traffic pretty well. It's just going to be very important to stay up front because it is really tough to get alongside another car to make the pass happen. We're at such an even speed together."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished seventh): "It was alright. The car setup has been pretty good and for the short amount of time the Target guys with Commit did a good job getting a car ready in a couple of hours. We had a suspension failure there going into (Turn) 1 in practice, and seem to wreck that car pretty good. We only got one lap because we missed our turn in line, but all in all, it was pretty good.

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, qualified eighth): "I'm pretty pleased. We went about the same as we did earlier and that's a good place to start for us. Hopefully, we'll have a good car for the race tomorrow. Scotty really smoked everybody today so hopefully we can get some of that tomorrow. We've had good cars in the last couple of races so if we can follow that tomorrow, we can have a good day."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "I just have to thank everybody on the team. Man, my crew did a great job. It's not much to do with me, but all of the hard work these guys have put in. We were down yesterday and we put it back together and just everybody on the Vision crew, Joost, Hitachi Power Tools, Bombardier Learjet, CardioChek, and everybody worked hard for this. The Firestones were great and we had a great run out there. So now we'll throw on the race trim and look forward to getting back out here tomorrow."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 10th): "Not too bad. We seem to lack a little bit of speed. Everybody at Target Chip Ganassi Racing has been working hard to figure out why." (About hype of incident with Danica Patrick): "I'm not tired of answering questions, but I think the biggest thing is we're focused on is winning the race."

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
Noon IndyCar Series garage open
7:30 p.m. Bombardier Learjet 550k pre-race
8:30 p.m. Bombardier Learjet 550k (328 laps, 342 miles, 550 kilometers), ESPN2 (9 p.m. broadcast)

NOTE: Schedule subject to change due to weather.


The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Bombardier Learjet 550 on June 9 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast at 10 p.m. (ET) by ESPN2 and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network beginning at 9 p.m. (ET). The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Liberty Challenge doubleheader on June 16-17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The races will be telecast by ESPN2 at 5 p.m. on June 21. ESPN2's coverage of the Road Runner 100 will be telecast at 6 p.m. on June 7 by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing