Bryan Herta, Honda’s top qualifier in the 2005 IndyCar Series, claimed his third pole of the season Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in qualifying for Sunday’s Firestone Indy 400. Herta, who was born in nearby Warren, Michigan, was also fastest qualifier at Phoenix, a “short oval” and at the St. Petersburg, Florida, temporary street circuit.
Herta’s pole run comes 10 years to the weekend from Honda’s first pole in major North American openwheel competition. On July 29, 1995, Parker Johnstone qualified on the pole for Honda and Comptech Racing, also here at Michigan Speedway. Since that date, Honda-powered drivers have qualified on the pole a total of 85 times in both Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) and Indy Racing League (IRL) competition.
Today, third-fastest Buddy Rice and Scott Sharp in fifth made it three Honda drivers in the top five starting positions. Dario Franchitti qualified seventh, followed by rookie points leader Danica Patrick in eighth and teammate Vitor Meira ninth. Dan Wheldon and Super Aguri Fernandez Racing’s Kosuke Matsuura rounded out the top 12.
Tony Kanaan rounded out the four-car Andretti Green Racing effort in 14th, while Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Roger Yasukawa was once again the fastest qualifier from a single-car team and will start 18th. Sunday’s 200-lap race starts at 3 p.m. EDT, with live coverage on ABC.
Bryan Herta (#7 XM Radio Andretti Green Racing Honda) pole qualifier, third pole this year (also pole qualifier at Phoenix and St. Petersburg), fifth Honda pole of 2005:
" It’s great to have a guy from Michigan on the pole – since I’m the only driver here from Michigan! In all honesty, this is such a big, wide, fast track that qualifying isn’t all that important. This track has a lot of different [racing] grooves, it’s a long race [400 miles] and the race setup is very different from what we run in qualifying. Still, it’s better to start up front than not, and it’s a nice feeling that I’ll take away with me tonight."