Dana Qualifies on Pole and Leads Homestead Opener MIAMI, March 1, 2004 -- Driver Paul Dana earned his first series pole at the Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday and led comfortably...
Dana Qualifies on Pole and Leads Homestead Opener
MIAMI, March 1, 2004 -- Driver Paul Dana earned his first series pole at the Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday and led comfortably for the first 22 laps of the 67-lap race before a bizarre sequence of events led to his demise.
Dana put his #91 Team Ethanol machine on the front row with a lap of 28.174 seconds (189.74 mph) around the 1.5-mile superspeedway, narrowly out-qualifying Arie Luyendyk Jr., who was just .02 seconds behind. It was the first series pole for the sophomore Pro Series driver, and also the first pole for Hemelgarn-Johnson Motorsports.
At the start of the race Dana got a jump and led into Turn One. He then gradually pulled away from Luyendyk and Thiago Medeiros over the first 15 laps, opening up a 10 car-length lead. However,the car's handlingbegan to suffer from a blistered right-rear tire and became extremely loose and difficult to drive. Dana surrendered the point to Medieros in Turn Three on lap 22, then hit a piece of debris that sent his car up the track and into Luyendyk's machine, taking them both out of contention.
During the yellow that this accident created, series officials noticed many of the cars in the field also had blistered tires. They red-flagged the race and allowed all the teams to change tires to ensure they could safely finish the event.
"It was great to get my first pole and give the team its first pole," Dana said. "The Hemelgarn-Johnson guys gave me an awesome car. We had the field covered. At first I thought it was just our car that had tireproblemsbut then I found out everyone was having the same problem."
"On the lap that I got passed, there was an engine diaper from one of the other cars lying in the middle of the track," Dana said. "Thiago was already in the lead at that point so he could go around it, but Luyendyk had me boxed in on the low side so I had no choice but to hit it. It flipped up and covered my front wing. It was like someone threw a blanket over my wing. I lost all downforce and just slid up the track. I was a passenger at that point."
"It's frustrating when you are so competitive and do not come away with a strong result, but it's great to be running up front. I can't wait for Phoenix."
Team Ethanol was created through the cooperating of a group of companies within the fast-growing ethanol industry. Led by the major ethanol design-build firms Fagen Inc., ICM Inc. and Broin Companies, the team promotes ethanol as a high-octane, high-performance fuel that is clean burning, renewable, and domestically produced. Program supporters include the Broin-managed Ethanol plants and New Energy Corp. The team also receives promotional support from the American Coalition for Ethanol.