Returning to the scene of his first IndyCar-style pole, Bryan Herta gave team – and race weekend – sponsor XM Satellite Radio a boost at Phoenix International Raceway by posting the fastest qualifying speed for Saturday’s XM Satellite Radio Indy 200. It is Herta’s first pole in IRL IndyCar Series competition, but comes 10 years after the California driver scored his first CART Champ Car pole, also at Phoenix in 1995.
Dan Wheldon, winner of the season-opening IndyCar Series race in Homestead, Florida, two weeks ago,posted a qualifying speed of 176.475 mph to make it an all-Honda, and all-ndretti Green Racing, front row. Dario Franchitti, twice a race winner on mile ovals last year, will start from the inside of the third row in another Andretti Green Honda, while defending series champion Tony Kanaan will start from the rear of the field after suffering overheating problems in practice.
The winner here in 1998, Scott Sharp will start ninth in his Delphi Fernandez Racing Honda, in the 100th race of his IndyCar career. Phoenix native Buddy Rice will start 10th for Rahal Letterman Racing.Teammate Vitor Meira qualified 12th in his Rahal Letterman Honda, one spot ahead of Roger Yasukawa in the single-car Dreyer & Reinbold Racing effort.
Kosuke Matsuura will start 15th for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, with rookie contender Danica Patrick making her first Phoenix start from 18th on the grid. Saturday’s 200-lap contest starts at 3 p.m. EST, with live television on ABC.
Bryan Herta (#7 XM Radio Andretti Green Racing Honda) Pole qualifier, first Honda IRL pole of 2005:
"That was the fastest lap we’d run all day, I was flat-out all the way around and that’s hard to do here.The fact that I scored my first pole here, driving for Chip [Ganassi] in 1995, and I’m still here, 10 years later, doing what I love, means a lot to me. I’m 34 now, and I’m probably not going to be doing this 10years further on, but my desire to race and win has not diminished one iota."