Scott Dixon topped the record-tying 28-car field to win the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts for the Bombardier Learjet 550k with a four-lap cumulative time of 1 minute, 37.5063 seconds (214.878 mph average).
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, was 0.0462 of a second ahead of Helio Castroneves, who will join the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner on the front row. Castroneves, who has won twice at Texas in the No. 3 Team Penske car, recorded a 214.777 mph average (1:37.5525).
Castroneves’ teammate, Ryan Briscoe (213.937), who posted his first IndyCar Series victory June 1 at The Milwaukee Mile, will be joined on Row 2 by Andretti Green Racing’s Hideki Mutoh (213.485), who netted the highest starting position of his rookie season.
Andretti Green Racing’s Danica Patrick (213.238) and Luczo Dragon Racing’s Tomas Scheckter (213.212), who won at Texas in 2005, will share Row 3. John Andretti (212.844) gave Roth Racing its highest IndyCar Series starting position in seventh. Will Power posted another strong qualifying effort (eighth at 212.595) in the No. 8 Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia car for KV Racing Technology.
Panther Racing’s Vitor Meira (212.501) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (212.482), in the No. 17 Ethanol car for Rahal Letterman Racing, will occupy Row 5. Dan Wheldon, who qualified in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing back-up car (212.474) after the primary car was heavily damaged in a practice crash, will share Row 6 with Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter (212.247).
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK: Though it is based in Indianapolis, Vision Racing could consider Texas Motor Speedway its home track. Driver A.J. Foyt IV, a native of Hockley, Texas, is the only Texan in the field, but Foyt, grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, isn't Vision Racing's only Texas tie this weekend. Bruce Rust, a resident of nearby Bedford, is again helping the team this weekend. Rust, who is a pharmacist at Medco Health, spent most of the Month of May as the front-end mechanic for Davey Hamilton's car, which was also fielded by Vision Racing.
*** John Andretti will attempt to make his first IndyCar Series start and 17th career start at Texas Motor Speedway. The veteran race driver made seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts on the 1.5-mile oval from 1997 to 2003 with a best finish of 12th in 1997 and nine NASCAR Nationwide Series starts from 1997-2006 with a best finish of 12th in 1997.
PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE QUALIFYING NOTES: · This is Scott Dixon's fourth PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award of 2008 and the 12th of his IndyCar Series career. His last pole came at the Indianapolis 500 in May.
· Dixon has won the pole at every 1.5-mile track this season where PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying has taken place. He also won the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award at Homestead-Miami and Kansas Speedway.
· Helio Castroneves qualified second, his second front row start of the season. He started on pole at Twin Ring Motegi in April.
· Hideki Mutoh qualified a career-best fourth. His previous best start was seventh at the season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
· John Andretti qualified a career-best seventh. His best start in any series at Texas Motor Speedway.
PEAK MOTOR OIL POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES: SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award Presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts winner): "I didn't think it was going to be enough. The track got fast, and I thought it would benefit guys like (Ryan) Briscoe qualifying later in day. It's shocking to be honest. I'm very happy we came away with the pole, especially with how hard the Target team works, but I'm still shocked. I think tomorrow is going to be straight-out speed, especially when it comes down to the final 40 or 50 laps. You need to be fast. Last year it seemed like (Sam) Hornish (Jr.) just pulled away from field. Hopefully, the car stays the same tonight and we don't change too much for tomorrow's race."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "We had one lap that was fast, but we needed four laps and unfortunately we weren't able to do that. I wish we could go back to the old way we used to qualify, but it is what it is. I'm happy Team Penske was able to have a good performance in qualifying. We definitely have a competitive car this weekend, and hopefully we'll be able challenge the Ganassi team for the win." (About the importance of starting in the front): "The wind is really having an effect here. The turbulent air behind two or three cars makes the car difficult to handle. That's why it's extremely important to start the race smartly. This is one of those places where it's a sprint race from the beginning to the end."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "We were a little disappointed that we weren’t able to turn in a better result in qualifying today, but we were off a bit on our gears. Fortunately, we have a fast car, so we should be able to hang with the lead pack in tomorrow’s race. In practice today, we worked on some long runs, and the Team Penske car was really solid, so I’m confident that we’ll be in good shape when the green flag drops.”
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I am glad the No. 27 Formula Dream car was able to get the fourth starting position. I think it will be a tough race tomorrow, so my goal is to move up one by one and learn from each experience. I hope I will be able do well tomorrow.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): “The Motorola car was fast on the first lap, but unfortunately the car got slower as the run went on. I am happy that we are starting up front, and hopefully we will be able to maintain the speed to stay there for the entire race.”
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 12 Symantec Luczo Dragon Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): " Our practice session did not go exactly how we wanted it to go. We spent more time in the pits than we wanted to so we really didn't know how much speed we had in the car. The Symantec crew did a great job of making changes after practice to get the car ready for qualifying. For not knowing how much speed we had in the car at practice I'm very happy with qualifying."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 24 Roth Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): Roth Racing gave me a really solid car for this weekend. We've been fast since we've unloaded at Texas. I'm really proud of the team's hard work. We had a great first lap in qualifying and just went from there. We'll make some changes tonight, go into the race and learn a lot more on the track Saturday."
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): “KVRT Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia is just happy we got a good qualifying run in. We have to race well, but the team has been working hard on the race setup over the last couple of days. The main thing for me is to finish well in the race. I have qualified well and hopefully it will be a good race tomorrow”
VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi National Guard Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "Our qualification run was OK. We need to find a little bit more speed for our qualification runs, but in Texas you have to have a good race car, and we know we do. I’d like to be a little bit faster, but tomorrow we’ll all see who’s quick really early in the race. It’s difficult dealing with the wind, but like I said yesterday, that’s something that everybody here has to battle with. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I love night races and I’ve always enjoyed Texas, so this is going to be a good race.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, qualified 10th): “That’s about where I thought we’d run today. We’ll take it, I thought we might find another tenth of a second, but this is OK. You can race your way to the front here and it’s going to be a long night so I think we’re in pretty decent shape for tomorrow."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone,, qualified 11th): "The guys did a great job getting a new car set up." (About right foot): "It’s just the right side of it, it smashed against the tub. It’s fine; I just can’t put much weight on it. That was probably the biggest hit I’ve had; the first part of it hurt the most. I wasn’t expecting it. The Polaroid car was really strong. It’s disappointing.”
*** The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Bombardier Learjet 550k on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast in High Definition at 10 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. 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 Jeld-Wen 100 June 21 at Iowa Speedway. The Milwaukee 100 will be telecast at 1 p.m. EDT June 5.