Kanaan can count on Indy 500 pole

Andretti Green Racing driver averages 227.566 mph

? While Danica Patrick and her team agonized over whether to make another qualifying attempt Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony Kanaan waited nervously.

Even when Patrick rolled her car back to the garage, done for the day and a disappointing fourth among Sunday’s 22 qualifiers for the May 29 race, Kanaan wasn’t able to relax.

He sat restlessly in his car as other drivers took unsuccessful shots at knocking him off the top spot in the final hour of pole qualifying.

“I had my fingers crossed, and I almost broke most of them,” Kanaan said, grinning.

In the end, though, Kanaan held onto the prestigious pole.

“When I was hired by this team, I think they had a lot of trust in me,” said Kanaan, in his third year with Andretti Green Racing. “I hadn’t had a lot of good results in my career up until that point, and they put a lot of faith in me.”

Kanaan was third qualifier Sunday, posting a four-lap, 10-mile qualifying average of 227.566 mph on the 21/2-mile oval. Kanaan had to wait six hours watching others qualify.

Sam Hornish Jr., who had qualified 11th early in the day at 225.847, withdrew that speed and re-qualified at 227.273, taking the middle spot on the first of what will be 11 three-car rows for the race. Dario Franchitti withdrew a 226.475 that was good for seventh at the time, and improved to 226.873, good for sixth.

Patrick, a 23-year-old rookie, managed to overcome the mistake on the first lap that resulted in a speed of 224.920. She had an average of 227.004 that gave her fourth place. She is the fourth woman to qualify for the Indy 500.

“I feel like I wasted a pole car,” lamented Patrick, who had a lap of 229.880 in the morning practice after being among the fastest drivers all week. “But, maybe I saved it, too.”