IRL: Indy 500: Pole Day report

CASTRONEVES CLAIMS AAMCO TRANSMISSIONS POLE AWARD FOR 91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, May 12, 2007 -- Helio Castroneves claimed the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award for the 91st Indianapolis 500, capping a dramatic Pole Day at the Indianapolis...

CASTRONEVES CLAIMS AAMCO TRANSMISSIONS POLE AWARD FOR 91st INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS, May 12, 2007 -- Helio Castroneves claimed the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award for the 91st Indianapolis 500, capping a dramatic Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Castroneves initially qualified fourth in the No. 3 Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara, but took advantage of the qualifying format to withdraw his time and re-qualify. With eight minutes left in the day, Castroneves took the top spot with a four-lap average speed of 225.817 mph.

The two-time Indianapolis 500 champion then withstood a late challenge from Tony Kanaan who qualified with a four-lap average of 225.757 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Dario Franchitti, who held the top spot for much of the day, ended up third on the grid with a four-lap average of 225.191 mph.

Scott Dixon (225.122 mph), defending Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish (225.109 mph) and IndyCar Series points leader Dan Wheldon (224.641 mph) make up the second row.

Veteran owner/driver Michael Andretti survived several final-hour attempts to knock him out of the field. Combined with its four regular drivers -- Kanaan, Franchitti, Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti -- Andretti Green Racing became the first team to place five cars in the top 11.

Second-day qualifying will take place Sunday to fill positions 12-22 in the 33-car starting lineup.

INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

* This is Helio Castroneves' third AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award this season and the 19th pole position of his IndyCar Series career, extending his series record for career poles.

* Castroneves won his third pole in four IndyCar Series events. He previously won poles at St. Petersburg and Twin Ring Motegi.

* This is Castroneves' second Indianapolis 500 pole position and his second consecutive front-row start at Indianapolis. He won the pole in 2003.

* Tony Kanaan qualified second, his third front-row start at Indianapolis.

* Kanaan has never qualified outside the top five for the Indianapolis 500.

* Dario Franchitti qualified third, matching his career-best start at Indianapolis in 2004.

* All five Andretti Green Racing cars qualified inside the top-11. It is the first time an entrant has place five cars in the first 11 in Indianapolis 500 history.

POLE DAY NOTES:

Tennis legend Billie Jean King was the honorary starter of today's pre-qualifying practice session.

BILLIE JEAN KING: "It's been unreal. The speeds are unbelievable. When Mel (Harder) took me around in the Corvette I don't think he went very fast, but it was the beginning of understanding how fast is 'fast,' probably only 110 (mph) or something like that. I loved it. It was great doing the flags. You just concentrate and wave it. I was trying to visualize, if I were in the car, how soon would I have to see that flag. They're going so fast, so you have to start so early. As soon as I saw them at the end of the track (Turn 4), I thought, 'I'd better start waving because they're going to be here before you know it!' I just kept waving the darned thing because they just kept coming. But it was really fun; the speeds are phenomenal, and the noise." (Your overall impression of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "Watching it on TV for so many years and listening to Lyn St. James and Janet Guthrie, I had the privilege to talk to Danica (Patrick), Sarah Fisher. It takes a lot of nerves of steel to do this, and it's fantastic. I'm really appreciative that Lyn St. James has been trying to get me here since '92. It's a tough time of the year for me because tennis is going this time of year, in May, plus I do a lot of other things. It's so great to be here, the place is so huge, and I know there's 400,000 people here race time. I can't wait to spend some time around here."

***

AAMCO Transmissions awarded Helio Castroneves $100,000 for winning the pole position for the Indianapolis 500. AAMCO Transmissions awards $10,000 to the pole winner at every other IndyCar Series event this season.

***

Indy Pro Series driver Pablo Perez visited his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 12 for AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award qualifications, two days after being released from Methodist Hospital. Perez, a rookie from Argentina, sustained leg injuries in an accident during the season-opening Indy Pro Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24.

PABLO PEREZ: "Today's is my first day going out. Two days ago, I got out of the hospital. Today, I had to come to the track to see qualifications. Just to smell the tires, see the car, hear the noise and everything. I feel fantastic really. I'm really looking forward to getting back into the car and to feel the speed again. That's my main goal. I'm pushing so hard to walk by myself as soon as I can, so I can race again. I don't know, maybe it will take a couple of months, four, five. The doctors, every time I go to see them, they tell me that I'm doing better, better, better. So for sure in three or four months I should be walking again. In December, I will be in a car to test, and we'll see what happens." (About future plans): "I'm going back to Argentina next Friday to spend a couple of weeks to rest and to do more exercise, more rehab and spend a little time with my family. That will be good for me and my mind. I will return for the 500. I have to be over here to see that race. I'll be spend a week here for the race, and then I have one more surgery in my right leg to take out a metal plate. That will be the last surgery. I'm so glad to be here today."

***

SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
7 a.m. Public Gates Open
10:14 a.m. Honorary Starters: Kevin O'Keefe, Riley President and CEO, and "Riley Mom," Angie McGraw
10:15-11:15 a.m. Indianapolis 500 practice
Noon-6 p.m. IndyCar Series Qualifications
6 p.m. Track closes

Note: Subject to change due to weather

***

The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (ET) on May 27. The race will be telecast live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's coverage of Carb Day at 4 p.m. on May 25.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Lyn St. James , Janet Guthrie , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Danica Patrick , Sam Hornis
Teams Team Penske