Posting a new lap record speed of 218.539 mph, Sam Hornish Jr. led an all-Penske sweep of the frontrow in qualifying Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s season-openingrace in the 2006 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.
Teammate Helio Castroneves filled out the front row with a best lap of 218.087 mph, as the two Penskemachines were the only ones to better the 218 mark in qualifying. One of the first drivers to make aqualifying attempt, Rahal Letterman Racing’s Danica Patrick was the early pace-setter with a speed of216.798 mph and will start from the inside of the second row, with Scott Dixon of Target Chip GanassiRacing fourth at 216.769 mph.
The 2004 series champion, Tony Kanaan will start fifth for Andretti Green Racing, with 2004 Indy 500winner Buddy Rice along side in sixth. Dario Franchitti in seventh and defending series champion DanWheldon make up the fourth row of the starting field. Paul Dana was the fastest rookie qualifier as RahalLetterman placed all three cars in the first nine starting positions. Felipe Giaffone rounded out the top tenfor A.J. Foyt Racing.
Sunday’s 200-lap Miami Indy 300, the first round of the 14-race 2006 IndyCar season, starts at 3:30 p.m.EST, with live coverage on ABC.
Sam Hornish Jr. (#6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) pole qualifier, his second Homestead pole and seventh career IndyCar pole:
“We were real excited after running strong in this morning’s practice, and
I thought [teammate] Helio [Castroneves] would be my strongest competition. Prior to starting the
[qualifying] run, we took as much downforce out of the car as possible and then just tried to hang on to it
for qualifying. Taking the front row at the first race of the year is great for the team. The guys work an
incredible number of hours back at the shop making our cars as aerodynamic and ‘slick’ as possible, and
this is a reward for their efforts. I’m sure it will be a long, tough race tomorrow but we’ll do our best for a
1-2 team finish there as well.”