For the second time this season, rookie star Danica Patrick will lead the IndyCar Series field to the green flag in Sunday’s Amber Alert Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway, following a rainout of qualifying. Patrick will start from the pole based on a best lap speed of 217.516 mph set in the second of two practice sessions run in clear and very hot conditions.
Clouds moved in as qualifying began at 4:30 p.m. EDT, and a pair of heavy showers washed out qualifying after only three cars had made their runs. As a result, Patrick was awarded her second pole of the season, to go along with the pole qualifying run she made at Kansas Speedway in July.
Starting alongside Patrick will be series championship leader and Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, who was quickest in the morning practice, just two-thousandths of a second off Patrick’s effort. It is the sixth time this year a Honda driver had claimed the pole position, and the third time Honda drivers have swept the front row of the starting grid.
Defending series champion Tony Kanaan will start sixth, followed by fellow Brazilian Vitor Meira and Delphi Fernandez Racing’s Scott Sharp. Dario Franchitti, Buddy Rice, and Michigan 400 winner Bryan Herta make it eight Honda drivers in the top 12 starting positions.
Danica Patrick (#16 Pioneer/Argent Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) pole qualifier, second pole this year (also pole qualifier at Kansas Speedway), sixth Honda pole of 2005: " A pole is a pole, and starting up front is always good. I think we would have had a good shot at earning it in qualifying if it hadn’t rained, but that didn’t make our effort in practice any less important. My engineer Ray [Leto] came up with a good plan for practice, we divided our time between working on race and qualifying set-ups, and it paid off today as I set my best practice lap in a simulated qualifying run. A track like this one, with a few bumps and such, sets it apart from the other 1.5-mile ovals we run and that makes it an interesting challenge for us both today and in the race tomorrow. "