For the second weekend in a row, Andretti Green Racing’s Bryan Herta was the unstoppable force in IndyCar Series qualifying Saturday, giving Honda its second consecutive pole of the still-young 2005 Indy Racing League season at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
With road racing new to the IRL schedule this season, a unique format saw all drivers posting a single-car timed run, as is the norm at oval races, with the fastest six then taking part in a 10-minute “Shootout” to determine the first three rows of the starting field.
Dario Franchitti was fastest in the single-car session, but dropped to fourth in the final shootout as his car developed understeer, while teammate Tony Kanaan improved from sixth to third on the final grid. Kosuke Matsuura just missed making the cut for the shootout session, but will start seventh for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, one row ahead of Dan Wheldon, ninth in his Andretti Green entry. Vitor Meira rounds out the top 12 in the fastest of the three Rahal Letterman Racing cars.
The green flag for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg flies at 3:45 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage of the IRL inaugural street race on ESPN.
Bryan Herta (#7 XM Satellite Radio Andretti Green Racing Honda) Pole qualifier, second consecutive pole, second Honda pole of 2005 :
"It was a pretty hairy lap, but that’s what the top-six shootout is supposed to be all about. That was a lot of fun – and a lot of pressure. It was my third lap and it was everything I had. I came in after it was done, and waited to see if anyone could top it. I know it was fun for the drivers, and I think the fans enjoyed it, too."