Qualifying: Scheckter takes pole

Any questions about difficult conditions and lack of practice were put to rest Thursday night by Tomas Scheckter. On a cool, humid evening after just 18 laps of practice, Scheckter cut a 219.3mph lap to win pole Saturday's Bombardier 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway

Qualifying: Scheckter takes pole

Scheckter's effort bumped his team-mate, Scott Dixon, off the pole and put both Target Chip Ganassi cars on the front row for the start of the race, the fifth of the IRL Indy Car Series season. Without Dixon, Scheckter said he never would have been that fast.

"Scott did the pre-season testing here," Scheckter said. "He did a good job setting up the car. We didn't really have to do much when we finally did test here. The car was perfect immediately."

That preparation proved critical, as rain wiped out most of the practice sessions leading up to Thursday night's qualifying. The teams were supposed to have three practice sessions Thursday; instead, they got just one 40-minute session after the rain moved out.

"I think you just need to get a good line around here," Scheckter said. "You need to be very smooth. You need to let the car do what it wants to do. Also, it helps when you have a great car."

Dixon, the fifth car on the track, knocked Felipe Giaffone off the top spot with a lap of 218.6mph. He then withstood challenges from Tony Kanaan and Tora Takagi before Scheckter shaved 0.07s off Dixon's lap around the 1.5-mile superspeedway.

"At a track like this, we're flat all the way around," Dixon said. "It's not like we pick up a whole lot of downforce and go faster. Obviously the cooler temperatures help the engine go faster, but that's relative to everybody."

Takagi and Kanaan will start on the second row. Giaffone and Kenny Brack will fill the third row. Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran will start eighth after a lap of 216.0mph.

"It didn't seem like it changed too much from the practice session," said de Ferran, who turned just 25 practice laps before making his qualifying attempt. "It was pretty constant. It wasn't a big deal."

Toyota swept the first three positions, continuing its strong performance against rival Honda. Kanaan was the highest-finishing Honda - at fourth - as Toyota took six of the top eight starting positions. But two teammates are likely to be heading in to the first turn together when the green flag waves at 20:00 (EDT) Saturday.

"I don't mind who gets into Turn One first," Scheckter said. "I just care about who gets to the finish line first."

Tomas Scheckter won a lawn mower and use of a plane along with his pole position for the Bombardier 500. Among the contingencies for winning the pole were a Toro riding lawn mower and a year's lease on a Cirrus SR-22 airplane. When asked how he would get the small plane home to South Africa, Scheckter smiled. "I certainly don't know how fly, so I don't know," Scheckter said. "Maybe I can tow it home with the Toro."

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