IRL: Texas: Thursday qualifying report

SCHECKTER CLAIMS POLE FOR BOMBARDIER LEARJET 500K INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, June 9, 2005 -- Tomas Scheckter earned the pole position for the June 11 Bombardier Learjet 500k IRL IndyCar Series race during Marlboro Pole Qualifying. Scheckter, ...

SCHECKTER CLAIMS POLE FOR BOMBARDIER LEARJET 500K

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, June 9, 2005 -- Tomas Scheckter earned the pole position for the June 11 Bombardier Learjet 500k IRL IndyCar Series race during Marlboro Pole Qualifying.

Scheckter, driving the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, lapped the 1.5-mile oval at Texas Motor Speedway in 24.4942 seconds, 213.847 mph to earn his seventh career pole position and his third at Texas. Panther Racing teammate Tomas Enge completed a Chevy sweep of the front row with a qualifying lap of 24.6076, 212.861.

Danica Patrick, who leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year point standings, will start on the inside of Row 2 after qualifying with a time of 24.6308, 212.661. Patrick, who drives the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, will start in the top four for the third consecutive race.

Sam Hornish Jr., a two-time winner at Texas, qualified fourth in his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, with a time of 24.7018, 212.049..

POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone), qualified fourth: "I'm happy with our qualifying run. We were able to put in the second row, and while you can win this race from anywhere, it is always nice to start up front. The Marlboro Team Penske car is handling well, which is important for the race given we'll be running in traffic all night."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone), qualified 10th: "We weren't as fast as I expected after this afternoon's practice session. I think the track cooled off, and we just weren't as quick. The good news is that this isn't a track where starting position means too much, so we just have to make sure we stay with the lead pack through the early stages of the race and are there at the end. The Marlboro Team Penske car is handling well so far, so I think we'll be fine for the race. The real test is going to be on Saturday night, that's when we have to make sure we execute and are near the front at the end."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone), qualified 16th: "We are still trying to sort the car out and chasing it a little bit at the moment, but I have a lot of confidence in the team. We have been working on a car for the race most of the day. This is a track that is probably the least sensitive to where you qualify. You certainly need a car that you can race well, and I am confident that when the green flags drops, we are going to have that. To be able to win here, you have to have a real 'placeable' car to run at the bottom and at the top and, if you get into a bit of traffic, to be able to run the third groove. I think 'placeability' is really important and you have to spend some time in practice working on that."

JIMMY KITE (No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone), qualified 17th: "We were all a little disappointed after the way Indy ended. I think the sponsors, me and the team all really needed this and the good part is that now we can get really excited about Saturday night. It's good to be working with the team again. In Indy, we were just getting used to each other and now that we're getting comfortable working together, I think we'll start seeing that translate into better results on the track. The Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing car's good, so hopefully, I'll be able to bring home a good result Saturday night for all our sponsors."

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/ Firestone), qualified 18th: "Qualifying didn't go as well as we expected, but quals and the race are two different things. We had a good race at Homestead, which is a similar track so we're looking for a good race here as well. This track always provides the most exciting races. Some people think that it's easy, but you always have 10 cars around you. It's fun racing with the other drivers. Our balance with the car is pretty good, and we're going to look overnight to find some more speed."

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone), qualified 20th: "We made an improvement from practice, and that's about all we had. We can't make the car any more neutral than we have. We just need to go to work on our race setup and see where we end up. I like all the summer races under the lights. It's good for the fans. It's more exciting with the lights. The fans don't have to be in the hot sun, and the cars seem like they are going quicker under the lights. It's a good time. And after the race, it is late enough to go to dinner and not have to wait in line."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone), qualified 21st: "In practice today, I was hoping to be able to stick with the guys on the track and ride their gearbox, but I couldn't do that. We've tried a lot of things today by taking things off of it, putting them on, but nothing seems to be working. The car is pretty neutral, so I'm not sure why we're having problems with speed."

TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone), qualified second: "It's good that we are back in front like we were in the beginning of the season. It's great results for everyone to be first and second. The engines are good, and the cars are good. We just need to finish the race, for me, no matter what position. I just need to see the checkered flag. And I think it's the same for Tomas (Scheckter) because we haven't seen the checkered flag yet this year. I hope our luck has finally turned around, so we can achieve good results and put the car up front for Panther and for Chevy."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It looks like we're going to have another one of those races where we have to work through from the middle of the field again. It's a struggle with the XM Satellite Radio car to get the kind of speed out of it that we want. When you get the car in race trim, it races great, but it doesn't seem to want to qualify."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone), qualified 13th: "I would love to have qualified a little better than I did; I don't really know what happened. Team 7-Eleven has been very successful at this place and apart from last year I've never really started from the front. I know we have a good race car but I have no clue what happened during our qualifying effort."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone), qualified sixth: "I think I got what was available from the ArcaEx car. At this point in qualifying, there is only so much the driver can do. It's pretty clear that we didn't have our qualifying car quick enough today. We've still got some work to do on the race car, but we must remember that we're going to race in these late conditions and not what we saw during practice this afternoon. We'll get a pretty good idea of what kind of race car we'll have during Friday's evening warm-up session, but I think we'll be pretty decent."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/ Firestone): "The Target team has been working very hard, and I'm happy with our run today. The key in the race will be running with the lead pack. I ran as high as second a year ago in this race so anything goes. It'll be all about pack racing and being aggressive all race long. The team's put together a strong race car. We'll work on making the No.10 Target Toyota comfortable in the draft and I'll work on being the first car to the finish."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone), won Marlboro Pole Award: "I have a great car and a great team, and there are going to be no excuses this time. I'm going to try to win every race, no matter where I qualify, no matter what position I'm in. I've been training really hard. Everybody has to get back to the mental level of winning again, and that's what I'm going to do. I think Chevy has been putting in a massive effort or else I wouldn't be sitting here. They really want to put a big effort in."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone), qualified third: "I don't know if we could have improved on our time on the second lap, but we had a slight problem with the gearbox. But all in all, it was OK, and we'll take the third position for the grid. You know, race day is the day that matters. I think the practice on Friday will be beneficial for me to learn to run in traffic here at this track since this is my first race here. I have to get used to running in high, middle and low grooves. The last few weeks have been very busy, and I don't think I will really unwind until the season is over. That is how you get mentally into the racing season. But it was good not to have a racing weekend last week. I was ready for the media and the racing, and we are really into the heart of the season now. Of all of the stuff that went on this past few weeks, the Sports Illustrated cover was the coolest. I wasn't expecting that. That's for sure."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone), qualified seventh: "We had a fast car today, but we had a problem in qualifying. The shifter didn't work properly, so we were off the speed we had figured on. But qualifying here isn't really that important. The pole is always nice to win, but at tracks like Texas you need a good race setup. We were the fastest by ourselves this afternoon, but it work in qualifying. It feels good to be back in the car, and I feel like we'll be tough in the race. It's just a little disappointing for qualifying. At least I have my teammates right in front of me in the other rows. I didn't want to sit out the big one (Indy 500), but I couldn't have had a better replacement than my friend Kenny (Brack).

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Menards Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone), qualified fifth: "Qualifying is good here at Texas, but it doesn't mean much. I have been on the pole here before, and the draft just sucked everyone right into the leaders. In qualifying, we got all we had out of the car. It wasn't the best, but we are starting up in the first three rows, and we can run with the leaders. We could have made a little change here and there and maybe pick some more time, but overall, we want to be good for the race. I think we'll be right in the fight for the win Saturday night. I like this place a lot. Honda has worked hard to help us, too. And you need horsepower here. Hey, I love racing and come to race every weekend. Now second is nice but I want to win. I think we have the car and the team to win. I think all three of the Rahal Letterman Racing drivers have cars and teams to win. I just need to get everything together to make it happen. I believe we will win soon. Maybe here on Saturday night."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing