Scott Sharp surprised the IndyCar field with a quick lap of 215.260 mph in qualifying Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway, claiming the pole for Saturday’s Bombardier Learjet 550K. Edging out Team Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr. by 0.64 mph, Sharp claimed his first pole since August, 2001 at Kentucky Speedway, and the sixth of his IndyCar career.
Sharp and outside front row starter Hornish have each won twice previously in Texas, with Sharp taking the victory in the June, 2000 and 2001 events, and Hornish winning the October, 2001 and September, 2002 races.
Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will start on the inside of the second row, in third; with his Andretti Green Racing teammate and last week’s Milwaukee race winner Tony Kanaan starting fourth. Last year’s Texas winner, Helio Castroneves, qualified fifth, with Danica Patrick rounding out the top six.
Scott Dixon rebounded from a crash in the final practice session to post the seventh-fastest qualifying speed in his backup Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, while Sharp’s Rahal Letterman Racing teammate, Jeff Simmons, recorded his best qualifying performance of the year to start eighth.
Saturday night’s 228-lap race starts at 9:30 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ESPN2.
Scott Sharp (#8 Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) pole qualifier, his first pole of 2007, sixth career IndyCar Series pole:
“I’ve been saying all year that this team is coming together, and I think we’ve ‘arrived’ this weekend. We made a lot of progress [at Indianapolis] in May, and carried a bit more of that on to Milwaukee. We learned some things there that helped us this weekend as well. With Jeff [Simmons] in eighth, it’s a great day for the entire Rahal Letterman team. You’ll see more side-by-side action [in the race] tomorrow night. I think it will be a typical, hard-fought, multi-car Texas battle.”