Indy – Kanaan Wins Pole at Las Vegas; Power, Franchitti to Share Row #9‏

October 15, 2011

Indy

Neither Will Power nor Dario Franchitti will have a decided advantage Oct. 16 in the Las Vegas Indy 300 — the marquee event in the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda.

In fact, they’re starting next to each other — in the uncustomary position of Row 9.

Tony Kanaan, the penultimate qualifier, posted a two-lap average of 222.078 mph on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval to earn his first PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season and 15th of his IZOD IndyCar Series career. He’s the seventh different pole winner this season.

Five different teams are represented in the top 5, and eight in the top 10.

Ed Carpenter, the Kentucky Indy 300 winner, driving the No. 67 Dollar General car for Sarah Fisher Racing will be on Row 2 (highest starting position for the team) with Alex Tagliani in the No. 98 William Rast/Bowers & Wilkins car for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian/Sam Schmidt.

Dan Wheldon, who will split $5 million with Go Daddy INDYCAR Challenge sweepstakes winner Ann Babenco of New Jersey if he can win the race from the rear of the 34-car field, warmed up with a two-lap average of 218.410 mph. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders James Hinchcliffe, who leads JR Hildebrand by six points, will start one spot apart.

Verizon Team Penske‘s Power enters the 200-lap race 18 points behind Franchitti entering the season finale. Seventeenth ties Power’s worst start of the season (Milwaukee).

Not including the two bonus points in play for leading the most laps, Franchitti wraps up his third consecutive series title with a top-three finish no matter Power’s result. Power needs to win the race if Franchitti finishes fourth through seventh. Prospective bonus points come into play the further down the finishing order.

Also Oct. 14, Victor Carbone became the sixth different Firestone Indy Lights pole sitter this season by recording a two-lap average of 191.7773 mph on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval.

Carbone, driving the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, had a previous best qualifying result of fourth at Edmonton and a best on an oval of sixth at Iowa Speedway in June.

He’ll share the front row with two-time race winner Stefan Wilson in the 67-lap Las Vegas 100. Wilson, driving the No. 5 Team Citizenre car for Andretti Autosport was 0.0118 of a second behind (191.734 mph average).

Earlier today, Chevrolet gave an update on its 2012 IndyCar Series engine and held a formal availability with its announced teams. Below are selected quotes from the availability:

JIM CAMPBELL (U.S. Vice President for Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Chevrolet): 

“It’s so great to be here, we are excited to be re-joining the (IZOD) IndyCar Series. It’s exciting because racing has been part of our heritage and history all the way back to Louis Chevrolet. In our recent open-wheel racing history we have had a lot of success. We have looked at the engine rules laid out by Randy Bernard and his team, and they align well with our production side including bio-fuel and turbo-charged engines. What we learn on the engine development side in racing will help make our production engines better. It takes great teams to be successful, and we have three of them here today: Penske Racing, Andretti Autosport and Panther Racing. We can’t wait to have all of these people here with us next year.”

ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Team Penske):

“Obviously this is a big moment for (INDYCAR). The opportunity to get Chevrolet back in our sport is so important. People have been asking who is going to get the engine first. We’ve put together a testing team with people from each of our teams so this is truly a team effort. With this group of team members and owners, we are fully committed to make this a success. This engine was a piece of paper in January, and it has run over 300 miles just this past week.”

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Owner, Andretti Autosport):

“I have very fond memories of Chevrolet being behind me as a driver. It will be fun to work with Penske and Panther Racing. I can’t wait to get out there. It has been very smooth so far.”

JOHN BARNES (Team principal, Panther Racing):

“We won 15 races and two (IZOD IndyCar Series) championships with Chevrolet, and we’ve missed them. We talked to all the other engine manufacturers when deciding what would be best for our team; but the high level of engineering with Chevrolet really stood out to us.”

MARK KENT (Director, GM Racing): 

Back in May I said we were ready to fire up the engine for the first time. We did fire the engine up, and since then we’ve been working on building power and reliability. We have begun Dyno testing and in-person testing. We have purchased a new car from Dallara and had it painted quickly, which we completed before Honda did.

WILL POWER (Driver, Team Penske):

It was awesome driving out of pit lane for the first time and feeling the turbo engine. The test went flawlessly, which shows you what kind of job Chevrolet and Ilmor have done. We will continually ramp it up and work on making the engine better.   It will be a great year in 2012 having turbo engines back in the series.

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director, James Jakes has been checked and released from the Infield Care Center. He is cleared to drive.

JAMES JAKES (No. 18 Acorn Stairlifts):

“Me and Alex (Lloyd) just went into Turn 1 and 2, drafting into one another. I was going into (Turn) 2 and something broke in the left corner, and at those speeds it moves you so far off the track. When I hit the wall, the impact on the fire was pretty instant, and it went all the way down the back of my suit, and I tried to stop a lot sooner but the brakes were gone, and I just had to wait until the car stopped and I had my seatbelt on and get out of there.”

DALE COYNE (Owner, Dale Coyne Racing):

“We’ve got the back up, but it’s in bits and pieces, so we’ll see how bad this one is and get something up on there in the next day.”

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