CAREER POLE AWARD AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE
Marco Andretti became the youngest pole winner in IndyCar Series history when he claimed the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award for the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. The 21-year-old will be joined on the front row by 19-year-old Graham Rahal.
Andretti, driver of the No. 26 Team Indiana Jones presented by Blockbuster Dallara/Honda/Firestone, captured his first career pole with a four-lap average speed of 168.079 mph. At the age of 21 years, 79 days old he eclipsed the mark of Tomas Scheckter, who was 21 years, 260 days old when he won the pole at Texas in June 2002.
Andretti also joined his father in claiming his maiden pole at Milwaukee. Michael Andretti earned his first career Indy car pole at Milwaukee in 1986.
Rahal, driver of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing’s No. 02 entry, will join Andretti on the front row. Rahal qualified with a four-lap average speed of 167.654 mph, his best starting position since joining the IndyCar Series this season. It marks the first time an Andretti and Rahal shared the front row for a race since 1992 at New Hampshire, when Rahal’s father Bobby started from the pole and Michael Andretti started in the second position.
2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon will start from the third position alongside KV Racing Technology’s Will Power. Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves qualified fifth, his ninth consecutive top-10 start, the longest active streak in the IndyCar Series. Two-time defending race winner Tony Kanaan will start sixth.
Also on May 31, rookie Pablo Donoso claimed the SWE Pole Award for the Firestone Indy Lights Milwaukee 100. Bobby Wilson, who hails from Oconomowoc, Wis., will start from the second position.
*** This is the fifth IndyCar Series event at The Milwaukee Mile. Three different drivers have won the previous events. Of the previous winners, Tony Kanaan (2006-07) is entered in this weekend’s event. Four Indianapolis 500 winners are entered: Scott Dixon (2008), Dan Wheldon (2005), Buddy Rice (2004) and Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002).
*** Beginning this weekend at The Milwaukee Mile, Firestone Racing will switch from traditional lead wheel weights to the 3M(tm) Wheel Weight System for all of its operations.
The 3M Wheel Weight System is constructed of a non-lead composite material for reduced environmental impact and corrosion-free results. Unlike traditional metal weights, the 3M material is flexible and can be custom cut to weight so wheels are precision balanced for increased performance and a better ride.
The wheel weights are attached using 3M(tm) Automotive Attachment Tape, a known and trusted technology that 3M has been providing to the industry for decades, which provides reliable, long-term performance for the 3M wheel weight system.
AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Bridgestone Firestone Motorsports): "This change to non-lead wheel weights is just one of many efforts to protect and conserve our environment under Bridgestone's global 'One Team, One Planet' program.’ As a very visible part of Bridgestone Americas and Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC, Firestone Racing has been looking at ways we can be more ecologically sensitive, and the 3M Wheel Weight System provides us with the perfect opportunity to put our company's principles into action. When it comes to protecting the environment, we're all in this together."
*** Tony Kanaan has won the last two IndyCar Series races at The Milwaukee Mile. The only Indy car driver to win three consecutive races at the track is Tom Sneva (1982-84). ***
This weekend marks the 51st time that an Indy car race at The Milwaukee Mile has followed on the weekend immediately after the Indianapolis 500. Scott Dixon, who won the 92nd Indianapolis 500, will attempt to become the ninth driver to follow up on his win at Indianapolis with a victory at Milwaukee.
Since 1946, the following drivers have won at Indianapolis and gone on to win the next weekend at Milwaukee:
1956 Pat Flaherty 1964 A.J. Foyt 1971 Al Unser 1974 Johnny Rutherford 1982 Gordon Johncock 1983 Tom Sneva 1988 Rick Mears 1994 Al Unser Jr. 2000 Juan Pablo Montoya
*** Rahal Letterman Racing will carry the logo of One Heartland this weekend on the No. 17 car driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay. The team also will donate $20 per lap completed in the race or $5,000, whichever is greater, to One Heartland.
One Heartland is a non-profit organization dedicated to greatly improving the lives of children, youth and their families facing HIV/AIDS and other significant life challenges worldwide. The idea blossomed in 1991 when Neil Willenson discovered the story of a young boy with AIDS who was encountering opposition to his enrolling in kindergarten. The relationship grew to include many others and culminated with the opening of what was then known as Camp Heartland in 1997. Now known as One Heartland, the camp is permanently based in Willow River, Minn., and has hosted more than 6,000 campers.
BOBBY RAHAL (Co-owner, Rahal Letterman Racing): "We look forward to the opportunity to use our participation in the IndyCar Series to raise awareness of this very worthwhile cause. One Heartland has been a shining light in what can be a dark world in the lives of children that have contracted HIV/AIDS, and we at Rahal Letterman Racing are pleased to use whatever methods we can to help the cause."
*** For animal lovers, tomorrow's Firestone Indy Lights race at the Milwaukee Mile and a similar event June 21 at Iowa Speedway are the biggest races of the year.
That's because they have the potential to bring in the most donations to one of the largest animal welfare concerns in the world, the not-for-profit Best Friends Animal Society, through Andrew Prendeville's Racing Laps for Best Friends program.
Through a Web site at racinglapsforbestfriends.com, fans can make donations to Best Friends in any monetary amount from 25 cents and up based on the number of laps Prendeville completes in any or all of the Firestone Indy Lights races this year. The tax-deductible donations go entirely to Best Friends.
Sunday's Firestone Indy Lights Milwaukee 100 and the June 21 race in Iowa have the largest lap count of any races on the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights schedule. Tomorrow's race at Milwaukee is slated for 100 laps, while the distance at Iowa will be 115 laps.
*** Firestone Indy Lights team owner team owner Michael Crawford is racing at his home track this weekend. Crawford, who owns the No. 8 car driven by Mark Olson, grew up in the Milwaukee suburb of Mequon, Wis., and he attended many races at the track with his dad.
MICHAEL CRAWFORD: "This is the track I begged my dad to take me to when I was 11 years old.”
*** Firestone Indy Lights team owner Brian Stewart will miss his first race since 2000 due to another commitment to his second love, golf. Stewart will travel to Purchase, N.Y. on June 1 where he will caddy for Canadian golfer Dan Payton during U.S. Open Sectional qualifying at Old Oaks Country Club in on June 2.
BRIAN STEWART: "The last race I missed was 2000 at Portland when my daughter got married. I will be here for practice and qualifying, so I'm not missing the whole weekend like I did then, but it's 900 miles to New York, so I have to leave early." *** Ryan Hunter-Reay threw out the first pitch at last night's Milwaukee Brewers/Houston Astros game at Miller Park in an appearance in conjunction with Gehl Corporation and this weekend's IndyCar Series race at The Milwaukee Mile. He achieved the team goal of throwing the ball a full 60 feet, six inches, firing a strike to his catcher.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: "I just went out there and didn't think about it. Just picked up the ball and threw it. It was tough to go out there without any warmup tosses, but I had some good advice and I've done a few of these before, so it wasn't a problem.”
SWE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
· This is the first pole for Pablo Donoso and the first for Team Moore Racing. Donoso’ previous best start was 10th at Homestead-Miami. Team Moore’s previous best start was second at Milwaukee last season with driver Jonathan Klein. · Second is Bobby Wilson’s best starting position of the season and his best qualifying effort since winning the pole at Watkins Glen in 2006. His best start this season was fourth at St. Petersburg 1. · Jeff Simmons qualified third, his best qualifying effort of the season. He qualified fifth at St. Petersburg 1. · James Davison qualified fourth, his second consecutive top-four qualifying effort. He started second at Indianapolis.
*** FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
PABLO DONOSO (No 22 TMR-Cristal-Xtreme Coil Drilling, qualified first): “The team did a really good job today. We have a great car, and as a driver, I did my best. I feel great. It's my first pole in the series, so I'm really happy for the team.”
BOBBY WILSON (No. 17 Team E Patriot Bank, second): “I'm excited to be here competing in front of friends and family. A lot of people are coming out to the track this weekend. It's been a parade of people through our pits today to see me so I want have a good showing, especially with the season we're having so far. The Team E guys have regrouped pretty well. We've had some bad results, but we've always been a contender. We need to get back up on top. We'll see how it goes and look for a good result. Hopefully stay out of trouble.”
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling, third): “We had pretty much the same setup (as Pablo Donoso). I think I just got the gear wrong on the second lap. I was amazed the first lap was so quick. All day we didn’t have any times on the dash, so I was finally getting to see them. I was so sideways on the first lap that I didn’t think it would be that quick, and I think cost myself on the second one.”
MARK MOORE (Co-owner Team Moore Racing): “It is a very exciting day for us. Jeff had a fantastic out lap. I thought we would have a front row or Jeff would be on pole. They both did a good job and had a good test up here. We did our homework.”
DILLON BATTISTINI (No. 15 AlexP, points leader): “I am expecting a few caution periods tomorrow; hopefully I'll be able to pick off a few cars on the restarts. My car has been good since we tested here last month. What happened today is out of my control. We just have to make the most out of it. Anything can happen in auto racing.” (On coming from the back at St. Pete 2): “You can't really compare St. Pete since it is a street course. I've never come from the back on an oval. I am not sure how easy it will be to pass. I'll just rely on my racing experience. I have to make sure that I finish and minimize the damage to my points. It is a long championship and all the front runners will experience their ups and downs this season.”
*** Entry update: #25 Roth has withdrawn from the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225. MARTY ROTH (Owner/Driver): “We lost the right rear shock, it was fading the entire session and then went completely south in the last outing. We can’t fix the car for this race. Our focus has to turn to Texas.”
*** PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
· Marco Andretti wins his first PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award. Andretti’s previous best start was second at St. Petersburg in 2007 and Infineon in 2006. · Andretti is the youngest pole winner in IndyCar Series history (21 years, 79 days). The previous youngest pole winner was Tomas Scheckter, who was 21 years, 260 days when he won the pole at Texas 1 in 2002. · Marco joins his father, Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti, as a winner of his first pole at Milwaukee. Michael Andretti’s first Indy car pole came at Milwaukee in 1986. · This is Andretti Green Racing’s 21st pole in the IndyCar Series and its second this season. Tony Kanaan won the pole at St. Petersburg in April. This is the team’s first pole at Milwaukee. · Graham Rahal qualified second, his best in the IndyCar Series. His previous best start was ninth at St. Petersburg. · The last time an Andretti and a Rahal started 1-2 was at New Hampshire in 1992 when Bobby Rahal won the pole and Michael Andretti started second. Rahal won the race. The duo also started 1-2 at Phoenix and Detroit that season. Andretti won the pole for those races, while Rahal won both races. · Scott Dixon qualified third, his fifth top-three starting position in six races this season. · Helio Castroneves qualified fifth, his ninth consecutive top-10 start, most in the IndyCar Series. Castroneves has qualified in the top five in all five IndyCar Series races at The Milwaukee Mile, including on the pole in 2006 and 2007. · Tony Kanaan, winner of the last two races at Milwaukee, qualified sixth, his fifth consecutive top-10 start at the track. Kanaan won the last two races after starting fourth and third, respectively. · Enrique Bernoldi qualified a career-best eighth. His previous best was 17th at Homestead earlier this season. · E.J. Viso qualified a career-best 10th. His previous best was 15th at St. Petersburg earlier this season. ***
INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Indiana Jones presented by Blockbuster, qualified first): “I didn’t know that was a record. I was just going for the Milwaukee pole. I think the guys did a great job. Obviously, we had our misfortune this morning coming into the pits, and the guys got the car back together. We could get some good practice time in still. We knew we had a shot.” (About the run): “The first lap, I knew the car was good, but I obviously didn’t want to take the tires out too soon. If you’re going to take them out, it’s going to be when the tires are new. I was able to do a perfect first lap that enabled me to get after it the next three laps, because at the end it was on the edge of giving up. If it had given up, that wouldn’t have been the pole. It was a consistent run.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps, second): “Obviously, I’m pretty happy with my first front row start. It would have been great to get the pole. It was so close, but unfortunately, that’s the way these go. We’ll move on from here. I think we have a great race car, and we’ll have to see how it goes tomorrow. A lot of this car came out of the Newman/Haas/Lanigan notebook for sure. A race car is a race car. They are slightly different animals maybe, but the concept is the same. All the experience these guys have had just carries on. They've done a great job. It was nice to have that one hour practice on Friday, because it allowed us to be more comfortable. It’s a tough track for sure, so to qualify this well is rewarding and also a great reward for all of the hard work the guys have done this year.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third): “I think our car was definitely strong enough for the pole today. If I could have put together four solid laps instead of just two then I think we would have been up there with Graham (Rahal) and Marco (Andretti). We've shown some pretty good speed today, and I think we'll have a good car for the race.”
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, fourth): “The team and I are really happy with my qualifying position. We ran upfront yesterday and in both practices today, and the car has been running well around here, so we were confident coming into qualifying. I am really happy for Aussie Vineyards–Team Australia, and I really like this racetrack. You can run behind people and pass them, which is fun. I think there will be great racing tomorrow.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, fifth): “We started off the day with too much downforce on the Team Penske car, but we made some changes in the afternoon session that really seemed to help find a good balance of speed and grip. We took a little bit of a chance in qualifying to try to go for the pole, but I think we took away a little too much downforce. Our first lap during qualifying was really quick, but after that I really had to fight the car. We’re disappointed that we weren’t able to make it three poles in a row here, but we now know where to go with our setup for tomorrow. I’m really happy with the work that the Team Penske crew has put in today, and I think we’re going to be in great shape for the race tomorrow.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, sixth): “I was pretty pleased with the run that the Team 7-Eleven car had today. I have to thank my team and my engineer. We struggled this morning, but I think we have a very good race car.”
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, seventh): “I think we still have some work to do in terms of getting the Target car balanced for the race. We made some adjustments throughout practice but haven’t gotten things exactly where we want them. Scott's car appears to be pretty quick, so we'll go back, talk things over and hopefully be ready to contend tomorrow.”
ENRIQUE BERNOLDI (No. 36 Sangari Conquest Racing, eighth): “It’s not ideal being the first one out because the track is not as good as later on in the session, but we had a pretty good run. We have been doing fairly well since our first on track session yesterday for the rookie practice, and we’ve been getting better and better. I’m really happy with my qualifying today. It’s been my best so far. I’m much more comfortable in the car. Even if Indianapolis is a completely different oval than here in Milwaukee, it has given me very good experience, and it’s helping out for here because it’s increased my comfort level on the ovals. I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow. It will be another challenge, because with 27 cars out there, it will be pretty busy and there will be lots of traffic, but it should be fun.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, ninth): “There was a big difference in the KV Racing Technology car from practice to qualifying. We went one way in the morning with the car, and Will (Power) went another way. Obviously Will was faster, so we decided to put his setup in my car. I went out for qualifying not really knowing what to expect, but the car was actually really good. I felt really happy and really confident out there. As you can see, the team is getting better, faster and faster. I feel confident, and I am sure we can have a good race tomorrow.”
E.J. VISO (No. 33 PDVSA HVM Racing, 10th): “It’s a good result, as it is our best qualifying position so far, but we were expecting to be a little further up the grid. We know we have a good setup with the car. I think we were just running a bit too low in qualifying.That made me lift in the corners a little, and that’s why we were slower. The important thing is tomorrow, and I’m sure we’ll have a good pace in the race.”
*** SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local): 7 a.m. Garages open 11 a.m. Milwaukee 100 pre-race 11:30 a.m. Milwaukee 100 (100 laps/100 miles) 2 p.m. ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 pre-race 3 p.m. ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 (225 laps/225 miles)
*** The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 on June 1 at the Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 4 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Milwaukee 100 at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) on June 1 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. EDT June 5.