Team Target 1-2 In Texas
June 5, 2003 | 11:21 P.M. EST
Tomas Scheckter edged Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon Thursday to win the MBNA Pole for the Bombardier 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Scheckter claimed the pole with a top lap of 23.8851 seconds, 219.300 mph in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. It was his fourth career MBNA Pole but the first this season. Scheckter captured his first career IRL IndyCarTM Series pole last year at this event.
"It was good," Scheckter said. "I have to thank Scott. He came here and did the test.
"The car was really perfect from the moment we went out. We made two minor changes. It was a good lap. I have to thank the engineers. They did a good job."
The Bombardier 500 starts at 8 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The race will be televised live on ESPN.
Dixon qualified second at 23.9557, 218.654 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.
"It was all right," Dixon said. "The team did a great job. There were two very fast cars.
"It’s obviously a fairly nice place to start. I think here it’s like most sort of speedways, it (starting position) doesn’t matter too much. The cars bunch up fairly fast, and it’s fairly easy to pass. It’s easier to stay clean at the front."
This was the second time that teammates have swept the front row for an IndyCar Series event this season. Tony Kanaan and Michael Andretti started 1-2, respectively, at the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The strong performance by Target Chip Ganassi Racing came as no surprise. The team is the defending champion of this event, with Jeff Ward edging Al Unser Jr. by inches in a thrilling finish last June.
Tora Takagi qualified third at 24.0246, 218.027 in the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, completing a sweep of the first three starting spots by the Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone equipment package.
Series points leader Kanaan qualified fourth at 24.1217, 217.149 in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. 2001 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone rounded out the top five at 24.1655, 216.755 in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.
Takagi led pre-qualifying practice at 23.8465, 219.655. Intermittent showers and wet track conditions forced two delays of the start of practice on the high-banked, 1.5-mile oval.
2000 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Airton Dare suffered a broken right femur (upper leg) and broken right humerus (upper arm) in a crash during pre-qualifying practice, said Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services. Dare was scheduled for surgery Friday night at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and is in stable condition, awake and alert, Bock said.
Dare hit the outside retaining wall in Turn 4 in the No. 5 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Jaques Lazier will replace Dare and start from the rear of the field in the No. 5 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, A.J. Foyt Racing officials announced.
2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran qualified eighth at 24.2469, 216.028 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.
Two practice sessions will take place Friday, starting at 2 p.m. (EDT) and 6:15 p.m. (EDT).