IRL: Wheldon earns his second 2006 pole in Nashville

Dan Wheldon earned his second IndyCar Series pole position this season with the top four starting positions at the Nashville Superspeedway filled by the usual suspects from Team Penske and Ganassi Racing. Wheldon's Ganassi teammate, Scott Dixon,...

Dan Wheldon earned his second IndyCar Series pole position this season with the top four starting positions at the Nashville Superspeedway filled by the usual suspects from Team Penske and Ganassi Racing. Wheldon's Ganassi teammate, Scott Dixon, who has yet to earn a pole this year, will start third.

Team Penske's Sam Hornish will start alongside Wheldon on outside of the front row with Helio Castroneves starting on the outside of the second row.

"This was a good run, but we need a race win," said Wheldon. Wheldon, who won the season opener at Homestead, was obviously pleased with his qualifying performance but mishaps in the pits have kept him from racking up more than one victory this season.

"We've been chasing the red and white cars of Penske all year," Wheldon continued. "I just need to drive the thing fast tomorrow. We're in the championship hunt, and we need to start winning races along with qualifying well. It's time to win a race."

After being edged by just over a tenth of a second, Hornish said, "We're not sure if we took enough downforce off the car for qualifying. We're really happy with how our race car was handling in practice. We'll see after final practice if we're just as confident."

Dixon qualified third despite receiving just one qualifying lap. He was moved to the back of the qualifying order while the team made repairs to the car. After setting the ninth fastest lap in the first practice session, Dixon turned four laps in the second session before his suffering gearbox problems. "In the second session, we blew the gearbox," Dixon said. "We couldn't really get any time in the car. We had to come back here, change the gearbox and then the shift-pod was in the wrong position. It was stuck on the neutral. We ended up doing about 140 mph. Luckily, the guys got it sorted and we got to go out and do one lap for qualifying. Third is better than last."

Andretti Green Racing drivers Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan will start on the third row, starting fifth and sixth respectively. "I'm pretty happy with our qualifying effort," Franchitti said. "This is closer to what the team expects."

Although tire wear has not been an issue, the track has been notorious for developing marbles off the racing line, forcing drivers to use a single lane through the corners. "Nashville isn't an out-and-out superspeedway like the 1.5-mile tracks. It's kind of half handing track and half a superspeedway," said Franchitti. "The concrete surface creates a lot of marbles and you can't make any mistakes here. If the car isn't right, it can be a long night, but when the car is as good as it was last year, it's pretty easy."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Sam Hornis
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing