Kimball equals career-best start; all Ganassis in top eight at PIR

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Two, four, six, eight… the qualifying for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix was fairly great.

Tony Kanaan took the No. 10 GE LED Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet to second on the grid with a two-lap average of 191.511 mph to led the Ganassi quartet, and his three teammates slotted in fourth, sixth and eighth behind them.

While you’d expect Kanaan and Scott Dixon to do well in qualifying – the two are two of the four drivers who’ve raced at PIR previously – seeing Charlie Kimball in fourth and Max Chilton in eighth were also welcome surprises.

Both set career-best starting positions within the Verizon IndyCar Series. Kimball had three top-five starts in 2013, but none since.

Kimball, in the No. 83 Tresiba Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, equals a career best also set at the 2013 season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana while Chilton, in his first IndyCar oval start in the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, has his best start in two races.

“I’m pretty happy. It looks like the Team Chevy guys have a solid handle on things,” Kimball said post-qualifying.

“Everyone went away and worked on it. It’s nice to see all the cars up front. Pretty solid. We worked on a couple qualifying sims in practice, but with yellows and incidents it was broken up.

“We’ll be in solid shape for tomorrow night. If the track races like it tested, (track position) will be critical. Passing is at a bit of a premium, will have to make it happen in qualifying and then run consistently, in and out laps. So, the obvious things!”

Chilton was also relatively happy with his maiden IndyCar oval qualifying effort.

“It feels smoother and I’m more comfortable. Naturally the second time back at a track, you’re more comfortable,” Chilton told NBC Sports.

“I felt that the first lap out of the box this morning. That’s not pole, but it’ll be decent.”