Pole sitter Sorenson, 21, is the youngest in history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Nothing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has gone as it should have this weekend.
There was no practice Friday because it rained. Qualifying on Saturday was in the evening instead of in the morning, as scheduled.
And Reed Sorenson – the second driver to make a qualifying lap – won his first career pole for today's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard with a lap of 184.207 mph.
At 21 years of age, he's the youngest pole winner in IMS history. The previous youngest pole sitter was Rex Mays in the 1935 Indy 500. He was 22 years and 2 months old at the time
'It's obviously an awesome place to get our first pole,' Sorenson said. 'I know it means a lot for Chip (car owner Ganassi) and everyone involved.
Starting next to him on the front row today will be Sorenson's teammate, Brickyard rookie and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, with the best starting spot of his NASCAR Nextel Cup career. His lap was 183.494.
The odds of Sorenson winning the pole weren't supposed to be good when qualifying was switched from 10:10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EDT) because of persistent drizzle and fog. Those later in the qualifying order should have been faster with better weather conditions.
But the second-year driver, who won the Busch race at Gateway International Raceway last weekend, had been fastest in the 3-hour, 15-minute practice session at midday Saturday and backed it up with a pole run.
The 41 car Sorenson is driving also sat on the pole in 2004 with Casey Mears driving. The lap that day of 186.293 is still the track record.
'We just seem to have something about this place that our team likes,' Ganassi said. 'This certainly is a high point and a huge accomplishment to have the two cars up front and all three in the top 10.'
Montoya found a little of his old Indy 500 groove aided him in his qualifying run.
'It probably helped me a little bit through Turn 1,' he said. 'I changed my line for qualifying a little and it helped.'
While the first two days here have been unusual, today's race should follow Brickyard tradition.
The best-prepared cars will have the best results, no matter where they are starting the race.
Even though Tony Stewart will start 14th, Kevin Harvick 20th and Jeff Gordon 21st, look for these former winners to march quickly to the front.
'I'm not going to worry too much about qualifying,' four-time winner Gordon said. 'I think we've got a real good race car. I think we've still got a great shot at winning this race.'
Montoya thinks Sorenson will win – 'he was just very quick in practice,' he said — but wouldn't want to count himself out.
'Any of the three of us (including third teammate David Stremme) can win. Of course, I would rather it be me than anybody else, but if it's not me, hopefully one of the other two Ganassi cars.'
Perhaps more than anything else, the lack of practice and minimal amount of rubber on the track might play the biggest part today.
'If we could have run old tires today, low fuel and old tires, we'd have a much better understanding of where the cars are going to hit,' said Jeff Burton, who starts seventh. 'But with no rubber on the track and the excessive tire wear, we were never afforded that opportunity. So it's a guessing game. The key is guessing right.'
Caterpillar-sponsored Dave Blaney, who needed to make the race on time, did so and will start 27th.
Ward Burton was the final car to make it in the field on his qualifying lap and spent some anxious moments waiting it out with his son, Jeb.
'I (was) closing my eyes and praying to God, that's about all it was,' Jeb Burton said. 'It was just terrible. I don't know what to say.'
Said Ward Burton: 'His heart was beating (faster) than mine.'
Six drivers failed to make the field. Among them was two-time Brickyard 400 winner Dale Jarrett.
Also going home were Kevin Lepage, Joe Nemechek, Kenny Wallace, A.J. Allmendinger and Jeremy Mayfield.
Jane Miller can be reached at 686-3207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.