Rahal-Letterman, AGR continue battle

Updated: July 24, 2004, 6:01 PM ET
Associated Press

Vitor Meira
WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Vitor Meira won the pole Saturday for the inaugural Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Meira took his first pole of the season, averaging 169.338 mph at the one-mile, oval course. To earn his first Indy win on Sunday, Meira will have to hold off series points leader Tony Kanaan, who qualified second with a speed of 168.597 mph.

Meira sits in 10th place in the standings, 155 points behind Kanaan.

"I'm really happy,'' Meira said. "The car got better each time we went out on the track. We got better two- or three-tenths every time.''

Meira's Rahal Letterman Racing teammate Buddy Rice finished third, followed by Sam Hornish Jr., who had the best lap times during trials at the track in June. Helio Castroneves qualified fifth.

Scott Dixon hit the wall in the fourth turn on his second lap, causing heavy damage to his car. He was taken to Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital for precautionary X-rays on his right knee and left ankle. He said he expected to race Sunday, but would have to start at the back with a different car.

Meira said he expects a challenging race Sunday, because lap times were very close and the flat track with shorter straightaways would make it difficult to pass. He doubted the finish would be as close as in Kansas last month, when he finished second to Rice by a mere .0051 seconds.

"It's really difficult to run side by side here,'' he said.

He'll start the day alongside Kanaan, who is looking for his second straight win and fourth of the season for Andretti Green Racing.

Kanaan said he was happy to compete in Milwaukee's first IndyCar Series race at the Mile. He raced here before with the CART series, but said much has changed at the century-old track, including a new grandstand and an improved pit road.

"I always felt we should be racing here all the time,'' he said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press