|Marco Andretti accepts the Peak Motor Oil Pole Award|
In what is shaping up as a battle of the two biggest names in IndyCar Racing - Andretti and Rahal - for this weekend's ABC Supply-AJ Foyt 250 Milwaukee Mile IndyCar race, Marco Andretti thrilled the crowd by nipping Graham Rahal to win the pole position on Saturday. Andretti strung together 4 laps at an average speed of 168.079 mph to top Rahal's 167.654 mph. Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon will start third inside of Will Power.
21-year-old Marco Andretti became the youngest pole winner in IndyCar Series history, just edging the even younger 19 years old Graham Rahal. Both are the latest in multi-generational racing families, with their fathers last starting together on the front row at New Hampshire International Speedway in 1992, when Bobby Rahal claimed the pole over Michael Andretti.
|Bobby Rahal gives the thumbs up for his son Graham's qualifying effort.|
Andretti also joined his father in claiming his maiden pole at Milwaukee. Michael Andretti earned his first career Indy car pole at Milwaukee in 1986.
After a strong performance in the earlier practice sessions, Enrique Bernoldi, the first driver to take to the track, continued to progress and impress in qualifying. The Brazilian sat for most of the session in the top-five with a four lap average speed of 165.216 mph but was relegated to eighth by the end of the session. Bernoldi was bumped by the likes of Dixon, Kanaan, Wheldon and Castroneves.
Before qualifying, Roth Racing pulled Marty Roth's #25 out of the contest, much to the relief of many in the garage area. Vitor Meira crashed his machine during his qualification attempt, and will start shotgun on the field tomorrow.
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Indiana Jones presented by Blockbuster, qualified first): "I didn't know that was a record. I was just going for the Milwaukee pole. I think the guys did a great job. Obviously, we had our misfortune this morning coming into the pits, and the guys got the car back together. We could get some good practice time in still. We knew we had a shot." (About the run): "The first lap, I knew the car was good, but I obviously didn't want to take the tires out too soon. If you're going to take them out, it's going to be when the tires are new. I was able to do a perfect first lap that enabled me to get after it the next three laps, because at the end it was on the edge of giving up. If it had given up, that wouldn't have been the pole. It was a consistent run."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps, second): "Obviously, I'm pretty happy with my first front row start. It would have been great to get the pole. It was so close, but unfortunately, that's the way these go. We'll move on from here. I think we have a great race car, and we'll have to see how it goes tomorrow. A lot of this car came out of the Newman/Haas/Lanigan notebook for sure. A race car is a race car. They are slightly different animals maybe, but the concept is the same. All the experience these guys have had just carries on. They've done a great job. It was nice to have that one hour practice on Friday, because it allowed us to be more comfortable. It's a tough track for sure, so to qualify this well is rewarding and also a great reward for all of the hard work the guys have done this year."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third): "I think our car was definitely strong enough for the pole today. If I could have put together four solid laps instead of just two then I think we would have been up there with Graham (Rahal) and Marco (Andretti). We've shown some pretty good speed today, and I think we'll have a good car for the race."
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, fourth): "The team and I are really happy with my qualifying position. We ran upfront yesterday and in both practices today, and the car has been running well around here, so we were confident coming into qualifying. I am really happy for Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, and I really like this racetrack. You can run behind people and pass them, which is fun. I think there will be great racing tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, fifth): "We started off the day with too much downforce on the Team Penske car, but we made some changes in the afternoon session that really seemed to help find a good balance of speed and grip. We took a little bit of a chance in qualifying to try to go for the pole, but I think we took away a little too much downforce. Our first lap during qualifying was really quick, but after that I really had to fight the car. We're disappointed that we weren't able to make it three poles in a row here, but we now know where to go with our setup for tomorrow. I'm really happy with the work that the Team Penske crew has put in today, and I think we're going to be in great shape for the race tomorrow."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, sixth): "I was pretty pleased with the run that the Team 7-Eleven car had today. I have to thank my team and my engineer. We struggled this morning, but I think we have a very good race car."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, seventh): "I think we still have some work to do in terms of getting the Target car balanced for the race. We made some adjustments throughout practice but haven't gotten things exactly where we want them. Scott's car appears to be pretty quick, so we'll go back, talk things over and hopefully be ready to contend tomorrow."
ENRIQUE BERNOLDI (No. 36 Sangari Conquest Racing, eighth): "It's not ideal being the first one out because the track is not as good as later on in the session, but we had a pretty good run. We have been doing fairly well since our first on track session yesterday for the rookie practice, and we've been getting better and better. I'm really happy with my qualifying today. It's been my best so far. I'm much more comfortable in the car. Even if Indianapolis is a completely different oval than here in Milwaukee, it has given me very good experience, and it's helping out for here because it's increased my comfort level on the ovals. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow. It will be another challenge, because with 27 cars out there, it will be pretty busy and there will be lots of traffic, but it should be fun."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, ninth): "There was a big difference in the KV Racing Technology car from practice to qualifying. We went one way in the morning with the car, and Will (Power) went another way. Obviously Will was faster, so we decided to put his setup in my car. I went out for qualifying not really knowing what to expect, but the car was actually really good. I felt really happy and really confident out there. As you can see, the team is getting better, faster and faster. I feel confident, and I am sure we can have a good race tomorrow."
E.J. VISO (No. 33 PDVSA HVM Racing, 10th): "It's a good result, as it is our best qualifying position so far, but we were expecting to be a little further up the grid. We know we have a good setup with the car. I think we were just running a bit too low in qualifying. That made me lift in the corners a little, and that's why we were slower. The important thing is tomorrow, and I'm sure we'll have a good pace in the race."
Car # 26
Car # 06
Car # 9
Car # 8
Car # 3
Car # 11
Car # 10
Car # 36
Car # 5
Car # 33
Car # 6
Car # 17
Car # 7
Car # 27
Car # 18
Car # 24
Car # 20
A.J. Foyt IV
Car # 2
Car # 15
Car # 14
Car # 23
Car # 02
Car # 19
Car # 34
Car # 96
Car # 4
Speed/Time: no speed/no time