Rain washes out IRL qualifying

April 12, 2003 at 10:17 AM
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MOTEGI, Japan, April 12 (UPI) -- After five cars made qualification attempts at Twin Ring Motegi for Sunday's Indy Japan 300, a steady rain fell on the track Saturday and washed out the qualifying session.

That will allow Scott Dixon to start on the pole after he was the fastest driver from the combined practice sessions on Friday and Saturday morning. No other driver topped Dixon's lap at 206.996 miles per hour from Friday or Saturday.

"I think most of us have been concentrating on qualifying speeds the last couple of days," Dixon said. "I think what we have ahead of us now is the race and we have a general plan that we use for the race setups. We are pretty confident with what we have. I think Friday, we didn't do as much race setup as we would have liked. I think the team has a good grip on what we need and we should be fine."

The IRL instituted a new rule this season in regards to a rainout of qualifications. In past years, current IRL points would determine the starting lineup. If that system were still used, Tony Kanaan would have been on the pole for Sunday's 300-mile race.

Instead, Kanaan will start second from his combined times during the three practice sessions.

"I started in the same position last year, so I have a good idea what will happen in the race," Kanaan said. "We did some work on Friday morning but the track gets better through the weekend. With the rain, maybe the track will be the same as it was Friday morning. We will start a little different from each other in the morning and after that we will regroup and make a change. I feel pretty confident that we have a good race setup."

Kanaan was the fastest in Saturday morning's practice session with a lap at 206.775 miles per hour in a Dallara/Honda. Tora Takagi of Japan was the second fastest at 206.747 mph in a Dallara/Toyota.

That speed allowed Takagi to line up third on Sunday -- his best starting position since joining the IRL.

Tomas Scheckter (206.350 mph G Force/Toyota) and Dan Wheldon (206.020 mph in a G Force/Toyota) round out the top five in the 24-car field.

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