Sam Hornish Jr won his first MBNA Pole Award since the opening round of the season at Homestead on Saturday afternoon at Chicagoland as he watched his Championship rivals struggle to crack the top ten.

Sam Hornish Jr will start from Pole Position in Sunday's Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland after he won his second 'pukka' MBNA Pole at the 1.5-mile oval in Joliet, Illinois. Hornish Jr took top spot away from rookie Buddy Rice with a best lap of 24.5528secs (222.867mph) and managed to hold on as he tries to overhaul Marlboro Team Penske duo Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran in the final two races and retain his title.

Rice will join Hornish Jr on the front row in the #52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara-Infiniti after recording a best lap of 24.6100secs in what is now a much more relaxed Red Bull camp.

Al Unser Jr equalled his career best IRL start with third fastest time after leading the way in Saturday morning practice and will start third with Billy Boat fourth and Rookie Vitor Meira fifth for defending Chicagoland Champions Team Menard.

Eddie Cheever lost a little ground on his teammate after matching Rice almost lap for lap on Friday and will start from sixth spot with Dan Wheldon an excellent seventh for his IRL debut and Laurent Redon eighth in Eric Bachelart's Conquest Racing entry.

Robbie Buhl and Felipe Giaffone complete the top ten with Giaffone knowing that Sunday is a must-win race for him if he is to remain in title contention when the series heads to Texas next weekend.

Gil de Ferran was the leading Marlboro Team Penske driver in eleventh place on a day when both red and white Marlboro sponsored Dallara's seemed to miss the boat as far as qualifying setup goes. For points leader Helio Castroneves, the situation was even worse as he only qualified 21st fastest.

 

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