No Surprise: Hornish Helio 1-2
May 20, 2006 | 11:05 A.M. EST
Hornish, who ran a sizzling lap of 229.996 mph in Saturday morning’s practice, turned a four-lap average of 228.895 mph, while Castroneves was clocked at 228.008.
"I would trade all my championships and awards to win this race," said Hornish after taking his 10th career pole. "I came here wanting to get the pole and starting second is starting second.
"I want to be first," added the two-time IRL champion who has been plagued by bad luck in the event. "Starting from the pole is a great way to start this race off."
Hornish qualified second last year, but his best finish in six Indy 500 starts is 14th in 2001. Castroneves, a two-time Indy 500 winner, finished at least ninth in his five races at the Brickyard.
"It’s not the guy that’s the fastest here that wins this race," Hornish cautioned. "It’s the one who makes the fewest mistakes."
Joining the pair on the front row is the defending Indy winner, Dan Wheldon, 227.338 mph, while his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, is fourth at 226.921 mph.
Alongside Dixon on row two are Tony Kanaan (226.776) and Vitor Meira (226.156), with Kosuka Matsuura (225.503), Scott Sharp (225.321) and Marco Andretti (224.918) on row three. Danica Patrick qualified 10th-fastest (224.674) and is joined by Tomas Scheckter and Ed Carpenter on row four.
The day was virtually without drama. Of the original draw, only Dario Franchitti waved off his attempt, with 29 cars qualified by 3:15 p.m.
Through 5:30 p.m., a handful of teams practiced. Then, action heated up throughout the final 30 minutes. Franchitti made good on his qualifying attempt and took the 17th position. Then, Townsend Bell withdrew his 16th-fastest time from later in the day and gained one position, requalifying 15th. With time running out, a pair of sons of Indy legends – P.J. Jones and Arie Luyendyk Jr. – qualified to take back row positions. Jones had the slow time of the day, 215.816 mph.
At the end of the day, there was only one position unfilled – and only one car/driver combination – Marty Roth – yet to qualify.
While Sunday’s Bump Day should be a final extended practice day, the possibility remains that one of the six entered cars without drivers – backup entries filed by Penske, Ganassi, Foyt, Hemelgarn, Vision and Panther – might change plans and attempt to make the race. The event’s 34th car/driver combination – PDM and driver Thiago Medeiros – left the door open to obtain a new car if funding could be secured after losing their lone entry in a practice crash.
In addition, most of the qualified drivers have backup cars available, which could be released and qualified by a different driver.