Rookie Danica Patrick claimed another Indy Racing League IndyCar Series front-row start, her third of the season, Friday at Nashville SuperSpeedway, in a starting lineup that was determined by each driver's best speed in practice after single-car qualifying was rained out in the late afternoon.
Patrick will start Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200 from the outside of the front row. The Rahal Letterman Racing driver also qualified second at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi in April, and two weeks ago was the pole qualifier at Kansas Speedway. The 23-year-old has twice finished fourth this season – at Motegi and the Indianapolis 500 – leads the IndyCar Rookie of the Year standings by 48 points over Ryan Briscoe and is 10th in the overall points standings.
Dario Franchitti once again leads the Andretti Green Racing effort with the fourth-fastest speed in practice, followed by teammate and Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon. Defending race winner and reigning series champion Tony Kanaan will start seventh, with Vitor Meira sixth. Scott Sharp was ninth fastest for Delphi Fernandez Racing. The first 21 drivers in the 23-car field are covered by less than one half of a second over the 1.33-mile Nashville oval.
In all, Honda-powered drivers claimed six of the top eight starting positions, although Tomas Scheckter will start from the pole, his third of the season. Saturday's 200-lap event, the ninth round in the 17-race IndyCar schedule, starts at 7 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ESPN.
Danica Patrick (#16 Argent/Pioneer Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) will start second, her third front-row start of 2005:
"We knew we were going to come here with a good car. Buddy [Rice] and Vitor [Meira] ran well here last year. I think they led more than half the laps here last year [Meira led 113 laps, Rice 52]. I started getting comfortable almost right away. I'm a little bit disappointed that qualifying was rained out, because it would have been nice to have a shot at a second consecutive pole, but a front-row start is always good."