Team Penske's Helio Castroneves laid down a scorching lap when it counted most, besting Danica Patrick for pole at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday (July 21st). Castroneves fast lap of 121.620 mph was the only one of the day to crack ...
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves laid down a scorching lap when it counted most, besting Danica Patrick for pole at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday (July 21st).
Castroneves fast lap of 121.620 mph was the only one of the day to crack the 1:08 mark on the 2.25 mile road course outside Lexington, Ohio.
"This team is fantastic. They never let me down. It was awesome," Helio said. "We've been struggling a little bit, but when they give me the green flag I go. Sometimes you try everything and it doesn't work, but you just keep trying and it will come."
Danica Patrick qualified second with a speed of 121.098 mph.
"This is by far my best on a road course," she said. "I left something on the table at Watkins Glen, but not today. This is big turnaround for us, for my engineer and the team. It feels good to have the car on the front row."
"My engineer brought a good car here and we've just been fine-tuning," she continued. "We really benefited from testing here a couple of weeks ago."
Tony Kanaan (121.008 mph) and teammate Marco Andretti (120.618 mph) filled the second row. They were followed by Dario Franchitti (120.473 mph) and Scott Dixon (120.599 mph).
"We're not finding much grip in five, six and seven," said Dixon. "We're trying to find some to improve our time."
Starting on the inside of the fourth row will be Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr (118.895 mph). He's joined by Foyt Racing's Darren Manning (118.323 mph) immediately alongside.
Buddy Rice took the ninth-best spot on the grid with a speed of 118.134 mph.
Ryan Hunter Reay, putting in seat time in the Ethanol machine, ran well and qualified in tenth spot at 118.024 mph. "We're doing great for our first weekend, especially considering we've done no testing here," he said. "The team is working well. The car is strong. We're going to keep progressing every day out."
Vitor Meira's qualifying attempt was marred by a wiggle that put him into the kitty litter, and then struck the retaining barrier exiting the final left-hand turn, substantially damaging the Panther Racing machine.
Vitor didn't try to hide his disappointment, on a weekend when driver changes are in the wind at the Indianapolis-based team. "We've been trying to improve qualifying since the beginning of the year, but it didn't work today. We've got to keep trying, fix the car and start from the back tomorrow."