<
>

Dixon keeping pressure on Franchitti, wins Nashville pole

7/13/2007

GLADEVILLE, Tenn. -- Scott Dixon edged Dario Franchitti, the
man he's chasing in the IndyCar Series, to take the pole at the
Nashville Superspeedway on Friday.

Dixon is coming off his first win of the season at Watkins Glen
and trails Franchitti by 47 points heading into Saturday's
Firestone Indy 200.

Dixon's qualifying speed was 204.414 mph on the 1.33-mile oval,
and Franchitti came in at 203.873 mph. They are followed by Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr.

Dixon, who won last year's Nashville race, said slight
deviations from the race line at Nashville can be "treacherous"
because of marbling, the bits of rubber grated off the tires by the
only concrete track on the IRL's 17-race schedule.

Passing will be difficult, he said, "unless the guy in front of
you makes a mistake."

Dixon said his Target Chip Ganassi Racing team has a plan to
catch Franchitti in the points standings.

"We will apply pressure to them -- make them have a small
mistake -- and that's going to be the only way we can close that
gap," he said.

Franchitti, a Scot who lives a short drive from the track with
his wife, actress Ashley Judd, laughed off a question about whether
he has a home-track edge.

"Um, no," he said. "There's no advantage here."

Franchitti said he will enjoy racing before the home fans, but
said he remained focused on winning the tightening championship
race.

"You want to do well anywhere, especially right now in the
championship battle," he said

Helio Castroneves was the second driver scheduled to make his
qualification run, but instead came out last because of problems
with the gearbox in his Team Penske car.

"We didn't want to take a chance," Castroneves said. "We
decided to fix the problem first and then come out."

Castroneves came in sixth, knocking Danica Patrick to seventh.

Patrick expressed frustration at her qualifying performance for
Andretti Green Racing.

"I thought the car felt dialed in," she said. "It's just
unfortunate that we didn't go any faster. It's driving me crazy
that we go into qualifying and we don't go fast."

Kanaan said the challenge will be keeping the car in tune with
changing conditions during the race.

"It's a very abrasive race track, and I would say the car will
change a lot," he said. "We'll have to be careful what changes we
make in the pit stops."