Kentucky: Series Friday report

DIXON EARNS POLE AFTER QUALIFICATIONS CANCELLED SPARTA, Ky. (Friday, July 31, 2009) - IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon will start from the pole after persistent "weepers" at Kentucky Speedway canceled all on-track activities, including...

DIXON EARNS POLE AFTER QUALIFICATIONS CANCELLED

SPARTA, Ky. (Friday, July 31, 2009) - IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon will start from the pole after persistent "weepers" at Kentucky Speedway canceled all on-track activities, including PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying for the Meijer Indy 300 presented by Red Baron and Edy's.

The starting grid was set by entrant points, with Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dixon and Dario Franchitti side by side on the front row. Water was drawn to the racing surface in multiple locations by the afternoon sunshine, which kept Delphi Safety Team and track workers busy while drivers/teams waited out the delay.

Team Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves will share Row 2 at the start of the race under the lights, while Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti will be on Row 3. Dan Wheldon of Panther Racing and Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing break up the teammate tag team on Row 4.

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DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

Sarah Fisher had the opportunity to learn about another type of racing with 1978 Triple Crown-winning jockey Steve Cauthen, who gave the IndyCar Series team owner/driver a tour of his horse farm.

They traded stories and learned they had more in common than a just a need to go fast. Both began their careers at age 5; Fisher behind the wheel, and Cauthen on a horse. Both became entrepreneurs in their respective industries, and now their involvement in their sports extends beyond just participating as an athlete.

Cauthen owns Dreamfield Farm, a breeding and training facility near Cincinnati. Fisher is competing this weekend in the Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Red Baron and Edy's at Kentucky Speedway.

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P.J. Chesson, who had three victories and 10 top-10 finishes in 12 Firestone Indy Lights races in 2004-05, is the spotter for the No. 43 MonaVie car driven by Tomas Scheckter in the Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Red Baron and Edy's.

"He called me and asked what I was doing and if I wanted to help him out on the race weekends on the ovals, and I said, 'Sure,' '' Chesson said. "So here we are. It's really good to be back; a lot of familiar faces. It gives a chance to put people in headlocks and shake people up a little bit."

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A.J. Foyt IV and his wife, Casey Irsay-Foyt, were at Kentucky Speedway. They recently returned from a week-long honeymoon in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

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Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher will return to the wheel of a Ferarri later this month in place of the injured Felipe Massa. Several IndyCar Series drivers gave their reaction to Schumacher's return.

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "In some ways, I was a little shocked because he has easily achieved everything he could want to. But I guess the competitive instinct is still there for him, and he wants to do it. I'm really happy to see him back. I'd much rather see him drive an F1 car than those Superbikes because you can really hurt yourself on those things (laughs). It's obviously really sad with the way it all happened, with Massa hurting himself, but I hope Massa gets better soon and jumps back in the car. Who better to put in your car, to sub for Massa, than Michael Schumacher? It's definitely going to put the cat amongst the pigeons for the remainder of the races."

(If you were in Schuey's position, would you have a hard time getting back out of the car once Massa is ready to return?): "I don't know, I guess I can relate having been away (from IndyCar) for a year. But him (Schumacher) and Massa are good buddies, I'm sure he'll be delighted if he comes back."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Penske Truck Rental): "It's awesome. I will be really interested to see how it goes. Obviously he's been out of the car a long time, there will be no expectation for him to go out and win the first race. But, it's great for the sport and will be great to see what he does when he gets back in the car."

(You've been in and out of the car this season, but here's a guy who hasn't raced for several years. How tough will it be for Schuey to get acclimated?): "For a guy like him, it will be like getting on a bike and jumping straight in. He'll be quick. You get to a certain point in your career where you can get in at any time and be fast, even if you have had six months or 12 months. That's going to be a tough call for driver fitness, but he's a very, very fast guy."

ROBERT DORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, raced against Schumacher in F1 in 2005-2006): "I'm really surprised. I hope he will do very well, I think he will. He doesn't know the car that they are running this year. I read this morning that they sent a letter to all the teams to get permission for him to test the car of this year. I think he will do great, he's a legend. Actually, I bet he will do much better than (Current Ferarri drivers Felipe) Massa and (Kimi)Raikkonen."

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Today is Justin Wilson's 31st birthday. Fans attending the autograph session sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

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PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, PEAK Performance Pole Award): "We'll definitely take it any way we can get it. It just shows that throughout the season you have to be close to on top or near the top if you have adverse conditions and have to start by points. It's a fantastic result for Team Target with a 1-2 start. Unfortunately, it's not the way we wanted to go about it. It's a tough day here for all of us not being able to be on track, especially when we have a lot of different changes we'd like to try out. More so, even with the push-to-pass option, which we're not really going to get to try at this point, maybe until tomorrow or later tonight. All-in-all, just want to be on track and hopefully we can get on as soon as possible."

(About his experience at the track): "I think less running is always an advantage for our team. We definitely seem to roll of on the mile-and-a-halfs and mile ovals tracks pretty good, maybe with a few exceptions. We won here last year and the car seems to be pretty good on mile-and-halfs this season. The track has obviously changed a little bit from last year with some of the grinding and we don't really know how that's going to go. We should be pretty decent. I think the starting position is a big deal, especially having your teammate right there as well helps."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, second):

(About the weepers): "Our biggest concern right now is to get some track time for all the new regulations, all the new aero pieces, all that kind of stuff. Every team would love to get out there and get some laps right now and see what it's going to be like. If you see the guys out there, the safety team guys, everyone from the IndyCar Series, they are working hard to clean up the weepers, but there's nothing you can do. It's not their fault that it rained torrential rain yesterday since I arrived. You can only do so much to fix it. Hopefully when the sun goes down, we'll see the weepers go away. It's a tough situation for everybody. The good thing about having a team like Target (Chip Ganassi Racing) with a lot of experience, we always know how to react quickly and come up with the right setup."

(About experience at Kentucky Speedway): "The one-and-a-half mile tracks are really all about the subtlety of one track to another so experience here does help hopefully. Like I said, I'd like to get the car working the way I want it and we'll be quick."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Air Force Luczo Dragon Racing): "It's been a long day of waiting. It's been a very unfortunate situation, but the weather has played tricks on the track. We really wanted to get some track time and make a good qualifying run. Our goal was top 10, but we'll be starting 13th, which isn't bad here. I really like this track. I had the pole in (Firestone) Indy Lights last year, so I've had success. Now we just need to make sure we have a good, strong, consistent racecar and do well with our pit stops. We have a short time to get ready, but we'll be ready to go."

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SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE:
3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. IndyCar Series practice - All Cars
6:15 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Pre-Race Concert - Carolina Liar
8 p.m. - Meijer Indy 300 presented by Red Baron and Edy's pre-race
8:45 p.m. Meijer Indy 300 presented by Red Baron and Edy's (200 laps/300 miles), Live (VERSUS)

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The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 1 with the Meijer Indy 300 presented by Red Baron and Edy's at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 8 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. A one-hour qualifying show will be telecast by VERSUS at 6 p.m. on July 31. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Michael Schumacher , Justin Wilson , Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Dario Franchitti , Dan Wheldon , Felipe Massa , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , P.J. Chesson , Dale Coyne , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dragon Racing , Dale Coyne Racing