Team Penske's Helio Castroneves won his first pole at Nashville SuperSpeedway on Friday (July 12th), edging Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick from the top spot for Saturday evenings Firestone 200 IndyCar Series contest.
The Brazilian recorded his record twenty-fourth pole in the IndyCar Series (and 31st combined series pole) with a four lap average speed of 204.519 mph over the 1.33 concrete oval located thirty miles east of Nashville, Tennessee.
"Awesome is the only way to describe the way I feel right now," said Castroneves. "My entire team, including the guys from the number 6 car, are responsible for our result."
Castroneves went on to elaborate on the importance of starting up front on this particular race course, a theme that has been repeated by numerous drivers from the opening of Friday practice.
"It is extremely important to start up front at Nashville as it is very hard to pass here, very difficult," he said, in harmomy with the general wisdom that the unusual racing surface creates a unique and demanding venue for the IndyCar Series competitors.
Patrick's 203.335 mph average was second-best on the day and left the Roscoe, Illinois native sanguine about her chances in the race itself.
"The car was stuck and it was easy today, "she said. "It is usually not very hard when you see me finish up front like this."
"It is going to be tough to pass so we will have to maintain position and stay up front if we can."
Panther Racing's Hideki Mutoh continued to impress in his rookie season with a third-best mark of 203.316 mph; while last weekend's Watkins Glen International winner Ryan Hunter-Reay in the Rahal Letterman Racing Ethanol Dallara Honda looked again strong with a speed of 203.306 mph for outside on the second row.
IndyCar Series championship points leader Scott Dixon of Ganassi Racing qualified fifth for the race, with a mark of 203.233 mph; alongside teammate Dan Wheldon to his right at 203.077 mph.
AGR's Tony Kanaan, (202.818 mph), Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter (202.735 mph), Castroneves' teammate Ryan Briscoe (202.690 mph) and Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver Graham Rahal (202.561 mph) round out the top ten for the 7:00 PM CDT (8:00 PM EDT) green flag rolling start.