NEXTEL Allstate 400Final
Ganassi's Sorenson captures pole for Allstate 400Jul 29, 2007 - 1:13 PM By Bruce Martin PA SportsTicker Contributing Editor
INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Team owner Chip Ganassi knows what it's like to celebrate a victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Emerson Fittipaldi and Juan Pablo Montoya winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 and 2000.
He accomplished a first on Saturday night when two of Ganassi's NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers swept the front row for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard for the first time in the team's career.
Reed Sorenson, a 21-year-old from Peachtree City, Georgia, and Montoya, a NASCAR rookie from Colombia who has raced in Formula One and CART, were the two fastest drivers and will lead the field to the green flag of Sunday's race.
"It's an awesome place to get our first pole," Sorenson said. "I'm pretty excited. We've got a good race car in race trim and in qualifying trim as well. It's really hard to tell what the cars will be like in the race because there was no rubber on the track today and lap times were off. The sun will be out all day tomorrow and we'll have to see what the lap times will do.
"The two biggest threats we had were our teammates. I was nervous going out second that the time wouldn't hold up but it lasted all the way to the end."
Sorenson won his first career pole with a lap at 184.207 miles per hour in his Dodge Charger. Montoya, the 1999 CART champion, starts second at 183.494 mph in another Dodge.
"The team continues to work hard week-in and week out on a lot of things but you still need drivers who can push the button and those two guys on the front row really did that today," said Ganassi, who also owns successful IndyCar and Rolex Grand American teams. 'It's deja vu to have the car up front again and to have David Stremme in the top 12.
"We just seem to have something here that this team likes. While this is a huge accomplishment we are trying to build our team to be successful all season. We do this one brick at a time. We showed up here today and all of our cars were quick."
This is Sorenson's second race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Last year, he started 41st and finished 30th.
"It doesn't matter where you are from, when you come into this place it really opens your eyes up," Sorenson said. "It's so big and it's been here for so long, to have your name in the record book really means a lot."
Penske Racing driver Ryan Newman's Dodge was third at 183.475 mph.
"We picked up so much time from practice," Newman said. "We were 34th in practice and made that up. For me to find out what the car was like and make improvements with the car really paid off. I wish we could have been a little bit better but third is a good starting spot.
"We hope to be in the right position at the end of the day to capitalize."
Newman said Saturday's schedule, which was delayed by rain, gave all the teams an opportunity to find out plenty about their cars with three hours of practice on Saturday before the qualifying session started at 5:30 p.m. and concluded just after 7 p.m.
Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., qualified his Chevrolet Monte Carlo fourth at 183.419 mph. Kasey Kahne put the Evernham Motorsports Dodge fifth on the grid at 183.374 mph.
Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson qualified 19th at 181.826 mph in a Chevrolet.
"It wasn't a bad run," Johnson said. "We didn't make a qualifying run in practice because we were pretty far off on race trim. I thought we had a great draw but it just turn out to be a bad one. That's the way it goes."
Ward Burton was the last driver to make the field on speed with a lap at 179.655 mph and will start 40th.
That was good news to his son, Jeb.
"That paycheck is going to be real good for my go-kart fund," Jeb Burton said.
Kyle Petty and Robby Gordon were added to the rear of the field on owner points and Terry Labonte starts last in the 43-car filed after taking the past champion's provisional.
Drivers who failed to make the field were Joe Nemechek, A.J. Allmendinger, Kevin Lepage, two-time Brickyard champion Dale Jarrett, Jeremy Mayfield and Kenny Wallace.
Montoya was the fastest NASCAR rookie and has a prime starting position to score his second win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a different type of car after winning the Indy 500 in 2000.
"It's nice to show everybody what the team can do," Montoya said. "It's a completely different animal. I think this is a big deal for everybody coming to Indianapolis. The six years I was here for Formula One, we had great cars and the worst luck. Being competitive again is great. We did it with the Indianapolis 500 and hopefully any one of the three drivers can win here tomorrow.
"It's four corners but each one is a little different. In a stock car I'm still learning about where to go and what not to do."