Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. will start from the pole in Saturday night’s Bombardier Learjet 500, after posting an average speed of 213.624 mph in qualifying action Thursday, a day of near-record heat at the fast, 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval outside of Fort Worth.
Hornish, currently ranked third in the Indy Racing League point standings, leads the league in pole qualifying runs, with three in five events. His previous poles were at the season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and at Indianapolis.
Defending series champion Dan Wheldon will start from the outside of the front row, with a qualifying run less than a hundredth of a second slower than Hornish, while current championship leader Helio Castroneves will start third, on the inside of the second row.
After a weekend of damp weather and cool temperatures in upstate New York for last week’s road race at Watkins Glen International, IndyCar teams and drivers found bright sunshine and an afternoon high temperature of 100-degrees here in Texas. The sixth round of the 14-race 2006 IndyCar season – and third IRL IndyCar Series race in as many weeks – starts at 9 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ESPN.
Sam Hornish Jr. (#6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Indianapolis 500 winner, pole qualifier Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway:
"I wasn’t too sure what to expect for qualifying. It was very hot today durin practice, but it cooled down after that and the track was in shadows nearly the whole way around. But the car still was real good, just like it was this afternoon. It ran exactly like we needed it for the pole. It should be an awesome race on Saturday night…they always are here. I’m looking forward to it."