Never known as a strong qualifier despite his 10 career IndyCar victories, defending Indy Racing League
champion Dan Wheldon scored his first pole of 2006 Saturday at a hot and windy Kansas Speedway with
a one-lap average of 213.536 mph. It is Wheldon’s third career IndyCar pole in 57 races, and his first
since moving to Target Chip Ganassi Racing at the start of this season.
Wheldon, who finished second here last year to then-teammate Tony Kanaan, will be seeking his second
race win of the season in an effort to close the 35-point gap to championship leader Helio Castroneves,
who will start fourth in Sunday’s 300-mile event.
Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Sam Hornish Jr., also winner of last week’s race in Richmond,
Virginia, will start on the outside of the front row, followed by Watkins Glen race winner Scott Dixon, third,
and Castroneves. Strong throughout practice and in the IRL Open Test held here in June, Kosuke
Matsuura will start fifth for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, with Panther Racing’s Vitor Meira rounding out
the top six in another competitive, 19-car IndyCar field.
The eighth round of the 14-race 2006 IndyCar season starts Sunday at 1
p.m. EDT, with live television
coverage on ABC.
Robert Clarke (President, Honda Performance Development) on qualifying at Kansas Speedway:
"The qualifying results today are not too surprising, as they are similar to the results of the IRL open test
here last month, but they’re also somewhat deceiving as this is a very close and competitive field. The
first six drivers are separated by just 17-hundredths of a second, 38 hundredths covers the top ten, and
the entire field is covered by just eight-tenths of a second. Congratulations to Dan Wheldon on his first
pole of the season, and we’re looking forward to a fast, exciting race tomorrow."