For the second consecutive event, defending Indy Racing League champion Dan Wheldon has claimed the IndyCar Series pole, two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway and Friday at the 1.33-mile, concretepaved Nashville Superspeedway. Also for the second consecutive event, Indy 500 race winner and current championship points leader Sam Hornish Jr. will start on the outside of the front row in Saturday night’s 200-lap event.
In addition to Wheldon and Hornish, the second row of the starting grid – Scott Dixon in the second Target Chip Ganassi entry and Marlboro Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves – start in the same order as they qualified at the slightly larger, faster 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway on July 1.
Dario Franchitti, the winner here last year, will start fifth, alongside his Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan in sixth. Vitor Meira will start seventh for the single-car Panther Racing team, with Delphi Fernandez Racing’s Scott Sharp in eighth. Tomas Scheckter starts ninth in his Vision Racing entry while Danica Patrick rounds out the top ten, and equals her best previous qualifying effort of 2006, for Rahal Letterman Racing.
The ninth round of the 14-race 2006 IndyCar season, and final Saturday night race of the year, starts at 9 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ESPN.
Dan Wheldon (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Dallara) on his second consecutive pole:
"You have to give Honda a lot of credit for the equality of the engines this season. It’s been pretty spectacular, and I’m not sure if any other manufacturer could have pulled it off as well as Honda has. Everyone on our team right now is motivated to beat those red and white [Marlboro Team Penske] cars, and we came here with some improvements that I think have helped us. But Sam [Hornish Jr.] is not a guy who makes many mistakes, so we need to win a lot of the remaining six races to have a chance at repeating as champions. It should be a great race tomorrow night."