IRL: Wheldon tops qualifying for Miami pole

Chip Ganassi's team swept qualifying at Homestead Miami Speedway with Dan Wheldon earning the IndyCar Series pole and Chris Festa topping the Indy Pro Series ranks. "It's good to be back with the team for a second year and build upon the ...

Chip Ganassi's team swept qualifying at Homestead Miami Speedway with Dan Wheldon earning the IndyCar Series pole and Chris Festa topping the Indy Pro Series ranks.

"It's good to be back with the team for a second year and build upon the momentum," said Wheldon, a two-time victor on the 1.5 mile Miami Speedway. "We were a bit disappointed with last year so hopefully we can begin to set that straight. Everyone at Target Chip Ganassi has been working very hard over the winter."

Wheldon tied 2006 Series champion Sam Hornish in points last season but lost in a tie-breaker based on victories. "We've got to stay focused on what's important," said Wheldon. "Depending on the cards we're dealt, I'll be driving for the victory tomorrow."

Wheldon and Hornish will pick up where they left off last year, starting side by side on the front row.

Hornish took his best shot at Wheldon but came up 28 one-thousands of a second short. "Judging on how some people picked up speed from practice, we knew we'd be close," said Hornish, "but we were hoping for a little bit more."

The 2006 season was the year of the red car as Target Chip Ganassi and Team Penske combined to win all but two races.

After earning back to back championships in 2004 and 2005, Andretti Green Racing struggled through 2006 winning just two races at Milwaukee and Infineon Raceway.

If qualifying is any indication the team has regained some of its form, with Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti qualifying third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

"Obviously, I would like to be up there" towards the front, said Kanaan, "but this is a big step from last year."

Relieved with his team's performance, Kanaan flashed a quick smile and added, "I think I can pass three cars at the start."

Marco Andretti said his car wasn't particularly quick during the day but "fortunately the car came back to us.

"This was the same setup we used during the test and we were definitely rolling the dice. We might as well have just rolled the car off the truck before qualifying because we didn't change much from the open test."

Scott Dixon will start sixth followed by Scott Sharp and Helio Castroneves.

"The track changed a lot between this evening and when we practiced," said Castroneves. "But at the end of the day, we were faster than we were on both sessions, so we're happy."

The top four drivers were within a tenth of a second of each other and less than a half second covered the top 18 starting positions.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Chris Festa , Sam Hornis
Teams Team Penske