CASTRONEVES SETS RECORD WITH BELLE ISLE POLE DETROIT, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007 -- Helio Castroneves won his IndyCar Series record seventh pole of the season, claiming the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award for the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented ...
CASTRONEVES SETS RECORD WITH BELLE ISLE POLE
DETROIT, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007 -- Helio Castroneves won his IndyCar Series record seventh pole of the season, claiming the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award for the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone at The Raceway at Belle Isle.
Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, recorded a lap of 1 minute, 12.0688 seconds (103.401 mph) to move from third to first during the Firestone Fast Six session and break Billy Boat's 1998 single-season pole record.
Castroneves, whose trademark victory fence climb was born on Belle Isle following his first North American victory in 2000, started from the pole in four of the five street/road courses this season.
Championship contenders Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan also were involved in the 10-minute rally session on the 2.070-mile, 14-turn circuit on Belle Isle. Dixon, the points leader by four over Franchitti, improved from fourth to third (1:12.5830; 102.669). Franchitti (1:12.1430; 103.295) will start second and Kanaan fourth (1:12.8451; 102.299).
Ryan Hunter-Reay, making his first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six, will start fifth in the No. 17 Team Ethanol car (1:13.3434; 101.604), while Marco Andretti will join him on Row 3 (1:13.3840; 101.548). Hunter-Reay improved one position in the shootout.
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:
At a press conference earlier today, officials with the IndyCar Series and Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix announced that the Detroit Indy Grand Prix will return to the Raceway at Belle Isle in 2008. The event is scheduled for Aug. 29-31, 2008.
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas will sponsor Buddy Rice's No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Honda-powered Dallara for the final two races of the 2007 IndyCar Series season.
DENNIS REINBOLD (Co-owner, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "We're excited to have Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas join our team for the rest of the 2007 IndyCar Series season. They are a great organization and we look forward to growing our relationship with them in the future. I hope that we can give them some good results over the course of the next few weeks."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I am so excited to have the chance to finally work with my friends at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Living my entire life in Phoenix only a few hours from Vegas, I spend a lot of my time there. I have been going to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for what seems like forever. Over the years I have had the chance to relax and party with a ton of my friends there. My wife Michelle and I actually had both of our bachelor and bachelorette parties there as well. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with them now and in the future. I am actually looking forward to our first on-site event that we are planning for the week of the SEMA show this November."
DETROIT INDY GRAND PRIX POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:
*This is Helio Castroneves' seventh pole of the season, setting a series record for most poles in a season. It is the 23rd pole of his IndyCar Series career, extending his series record.
*Dario Franchitti qualified second. It is his fourth consecutive front row start.
*Helio Castroneves earned the pole on four of the five road/street courses this season. He only failed to win the pole at Infineon last weekend.
*Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay improved positions in Firestone Fast Six. Four of the six drivers improved their lap times.
*Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified fifth, his career-best qualifying effort.
*Sam Hornish Jr. qualified in the top 10 for the 31st consecutive race, extending his series record.
DETROIT INDY GRAND PRIX POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award winner): "I didn't do this by myself. Everyone at Team Penske was incredible. I can't thank Roger (Penske), my guys and the entire team enough. It was an amazing effort. We tried very small changes and focused on the details to get that lap. I'm so excited. I can't even describe it. I'm extremely happy. Tomorrow is going to be a good one. There are so many fans out today, it's just incredible. It's great to be back at Belle Isle."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "It was a good run. It's always one of those things when you get beaten by less than a tenth (of a second), you think, 'I could have done better there, or better there' but when the tires were at their best, that's what I did. I'm still a little bit puzzled as to how Helio improved his time when there was a waving yellow. I thought we were supposed to slow down with the waving yellows. So I'm puzzled about that. But especially after what happened this morning with crashing the car and the guys having to rebuild it, they really did a great job with that. So I'm proud of them and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "Today we had a pretty good car in the first session but in the qualifying session I think I was pretty cautious which maybe wasn't the thing to do. We changed the car and then had a ton of understeer in the shootout which didn't help much. At least we're starting up near the front and Helio (Castroneves) has the pole instead of Dario (Franchitti) so we'll work on strategy. We have to keep an open mind and make sure we don't step on our own toes. The Target team is going to try and have a good solid race."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "We're not very happy with our qualifying effort. We posted the second-quickest lap during qualifying and fell to fourth, so we're not happy. The Team 7-Eleven guys have worked very hard all weekend and I'm disappointed for them. This is a tough course to pass on so the race is going to play out a lot in the pits and on strategy so we have to rely on the mechanics to do a good job on the stops, plus our in laps and out laps will be crucial."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "It was another good day for the Ethanol team. I've been saying this every day but we keep getting faster every session and we did it again today when it counted. We got in the Firestone Fast Six and gained a spot so we are very happy. We still have work to do to get into the front row, but we can race from 5th on the grid. The Ethanol guys deserve to be running up front like this and hopefully we do even better tomorrow."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "I don't think I did the best job I could have in qualifying. Besides Ryan (Hunter-Reay), I'm the quickest of the guys who hasn't driven here before but to me, that doesn't matter too much. I want to be quicker than the guys who have been here before. There's still a lot of work to do on the NYSE car. It's a very abrasive and bumpy track so it's tough to get right but we've got a warmup tomorrow and we're starting near the front so I think we'll have a good day."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "While we hoped that we would make it into the top six, we were pleased with our lap time. Once again we fell just outside the final shootout, but this is about where we seem to be qualifying on road courses lately. We've been pretty happy with the Team Penske car so far in practice, so we should be in good shape for the race if we can stay out of trouble."
DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "It's always difficult to get the car dialed into good track conditions when you're in the slow group which happened here and at Sonoma. But we made some changes overnight and when we were to do our qual sim, a red came out. We never showed what we had. I knew the car would be faster from this morning. I had confidence in it. We'll do a few more bits on the ABC car overnight and hopefully we'll be even more competitive in the race."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "I put in about the best lap that I could do. I probably lost a little bit going into turn five, but otherwise it was a decent lap. I like this circuit and hopefully we've got a chance tomorrow in the race. We'll see how it goes."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 10th): "We're working to improve on our deficiencies. It's always tough on street courses; you just never feel like you have enough time and there are lots of changes you wish you could make. This track is still very bumpy, but I hear it's much better than it was when Indy-cars used to race here. We always want to be better, and we always want to get the most out of the car. But, again, we are still better now than we were this time last weekend."