Wheldon Wheels To Pole
March 20, 2004 | 11:11 A.M. EST
Dan Wheldon, in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, won the MBNA Pole award March 20 with a fast lap of 20.5974 seconds (174.779 mph) on the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval.
It is the first pole for Wheldon, the 2003 Bombardier Rookie of the Year, in his first race at PIR. His first start last season was in Motegi, Japan, in the third race of the season.
Tony Kanaan, the defending race champion and pole sitter, will start second in the race. He had a fast lap of 20.6551 seconds (174.291 mph) in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
"It's fantastic for the team, certainly," Wheldon said. "TK (Kanaan) has helped me a lot on the short oval stuff, as has (teammates) Dario (Franchitti) and Bryan (Herta). With three experienced teammates like that, it really makes my job a little bit easier. Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself on setup, and they set me right. All in all, it's a good job for the team."
It is the first 1-2 start for Andretti Green Racing, and the 12th time in IRL IndyCar Series history that teammates will occupy the front row. It is the fourth pole victory for Andretti Green Racing, which started Kanaan from the lead spot in last year’s race at PIR.
Helio Castroneves, runner-up to Kanaan in the 2003 race at PIR, will start third. He had a fast lap of 20.6697 seconds (174.168 mph) in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.