IRL: Kentucky: Qualifying report

CASTRONEVES CLAIMS THIRD-STRAIGHT INDYCAR SERIES POLE SPARTA, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2006 -- Helio Castroneves claimed his third consecutive Marlboro Pole Award, claiming the top starting position for the Aug. 13 Meijer Indy 300 presented by ...

CASTRONEVES CLAIMS THIRD-STRAIGHT INDYCAR SERIES POLE

SPARTA, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2006 -- Helio Castroneves claimed his third consecutive Marlboro Pole Award, claiming the top starting position for the Aug. 13 Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret at Kentucky Speedway.

Castroneves, who won the pole at Milwaukee on July 22 and Michigan on July 29, posted a lap of 24.4037 seconds, 218.328 mph, in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Castroneves' time was .0023 of a second faster than his teammate Sam Hornish Jr., who recorded a lap of 24.4060, 218.307 mph, in his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Castroneves can tie the series record for consecutive pole positions he shares with Billy Boat if he can win the pole at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 26.

Dan Wheldon was third-quickest at 24.5526, 217.003 mph in his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara while Tony Kanaan (216.766 mph) and Scott Dixon (216.712 mph) were fourth and fifth, respectively in their Honda-powered Dallaras.

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DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

The Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret is the seventh IndyCar Series event at Kentucky Speedway. Scott Sharp is the defending race winner. Sarah Fisher holds the qualifying record with a lap of 24.0661 seconds, 221.390 mph set on Aug. 10, 2002. The WAMZ 100 is the fifth Indy Pro Series event at Kentucky Speedway. Travis Gregg is the defending race winner. Gregg holds the qualifying record with a lap of 27.9835 seconds, 190.398 set Aug. 13, 2004.

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Two of the previous IndyCar Series winners at Kentucky are entered in the Meijer Indy 300: 2005 winner Scott Sharp (Delphi Fernandez Racing) and 2003 winner Sam Hornish Jr. (Marlboro Team Penske). Four Indianapolis 500 winners are entered in the Meijer Indy 300: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2006). Drivers entered in the Firestone Indy 400 have combined for 70 IndyCar Series victories, 68 pole positions and 967 starts. Travis Gregg is the only former Indy Pro Series winner at Kentucky entered in the WAMZ 100. Jeff Simmons, who won the 2003 Indy Pro Series event, is entered in the Meijer Indy 300.

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Three IndyCar Series rookies are entered in the Meijer Indy 300: Marco Andretti (Andretti Green Racing), Marty Roth (Roth Racing) and Jeff Simmons (Rahal Letterman Racing). Both are eligible for the $50,000 Bombardier Rookie of the Year title. Jeff Bucknum (A.J. Foyt Racing) is making his first appearance at Kentucky Speedway, but is not eligible for Rookie of the Year.

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The Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret will be the 132nd IRL IndyCar Series event since the series' inaugural race in 1996. In the 131 previous events, 26,200 laps of competition have been completed. In 11 races thus far in 2006, there have been five winners. Sam Hornish Jr., Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves are the only multiple winners. Castroneves won at St. Petersburg, Motegi, Texas and Michigan, Hornish won at Indianapolis, Richmond and Kansas and Dixon won at Watkins Glen and Nashville. Dan Wheldon won at Homestead-Miami and Tony Kanaan won at Milwaukee. In those 10 races, 16 drivers have finished in the top five in at least one event.

The Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret will be the fifth of six events in 2006 contested on a 1.5-mile track. Winners in 2006 on 1.5-mile tracks: Dan Wheldon (Homestead-Miami Speedway), Helio Castroneves (Twin Ring Motegi and Texas Motor Speedway) and Sam Hornish Jr. (Kansas Speedway). The final 1.5-mile track on the schedule is Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 10).

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Two-time IndyCar Series Champion Panther Racing announced on Aug. 11 a primary sponsorship agreement with career training school Lincoln Tech for the Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Lincoln Tech has 15 campuses nationwide, in states that include Indiana, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. Program offerings include Automotive Technology, Diesel Technology, Collision Repair, Electronic Systems Technician (EST) and HVAC. Panther Racing co-owner John Barnes graduated from Lincoln Tech in 1971. After his graduation, Barnes went on to become one of the most successful mechanics and team owners in Indy-car racing history.

JOHN BARNES (Co-owner, Panther Racing): "I know the training at Lincoln Tech works from personal experience. I had already been in the racing business for several years before I went to Lincoln Tech, and once I graduated I had the automotive training I needed to advance my career. I wouldn't be here today without that training and I'm proud that they've decided to join Panther Racing this weekend and, hopefully, well into the future."

TIMOTHY CAMPAGNA (President of Lincoln Tech's Indianapolis campus): "We are truly proud to support Lincoln Tech alumnus John Barnes, and wish front runner Panther Racing well in Sunday's race," said. "Teaming up with John and Panther Racing as a primary sponsor this weekend is an exciting way to promote Lincoln Tech's automotive expertise and passion for motor sports. We can't wait to see our brand emblazoned on the team's car at this prestigious IndyCar Series event, expected to draw thousands of fans at the speedway, along with millions of television and online viewers."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Adding Lincoln Tech to the Panther family for this weekend is great news for all of us. John Barnes is one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever met in all my years in motorsports, and that says a lot about the education he received at Lincoln Tech. It's great that the school is getting involved in motorsports because its students will be more aware of the success they can have in our business."

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Ryan Briscoe, who will drive for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at Infineon Raceway, finished second with co-drivers Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli in the Daytona Protoype event at Watkins Glen on Friday. The event was won by Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz.

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MEIJER INDY 300 POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

* This is Helio Castroneves' fifth earned pole this season and the 16th earned pole of his IndyCar Series career, extending his IndyCar Series record for career pole positions. This is the sixth time he has started first this season. He won the pole at Michigan and Milwaukee and started first at Motegi (points), Watkins Glen (practice speed) and Richmond (practice speed) when qualifications were cancelled.

* This is Marlboro Team Penske's ninth pole position of the season and its 28th pole in the IndyCar Series, extending its IndyCar Series record.

* Sam Hornish Jr. will start second for the fifth consecutive race. It is his eighth front-row start. It is the third 1-2 start for Marlboro Team Penske in as many events, dating to Milwaukee. They also shared the front row at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and started 1-2 at Indianapolis in May.

MEIJER INDY 300 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Marlboro Pole Award winner): "It was just enough. There was a little bit of understeer on my lap, which I didn't expect, but at the end of the day, it was very good. Winning the pole doesn't mean much on these kinds of ovals, but right now, we'll enjoy the moment."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "It's a pretty good run for us. Obviously not where we want to be, we want to be first. That's how it is. We just keep going forward, doing the best we can. We're here to win tomorrow. Today, yeah it would nice to be on the pole, but tomorrow is what we're here to do."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "We're disappointed of course to find ourselves behind the Penskes. The bottom line is that we're going to have to dig deep and make the most of every opportunity, but more importantly to create some opportunities, and this Target team is certainly motivated to do that."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "Team 7-Eleven worked on race setups all morning and we never did a qualifying setup. I have to give thanks to Dario (Franchitti) because he's who did the qualifying simulations for the team. I know the car is good in race setup and just wanted to get it in the field and close to the front."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pretty disappointed with that qualifying time. We weren't even close to being as quick as we thought we'd be for the run. We certainly didn't think we'd be a mile and a half an half slower. Not quite sure why that is. The same thing happened to us at Michigan. The good news is that it really doesn't matter where you start here at Kentucky. The Target team's put together a really good comfortable car for the race. It's always best to be in the top half of the grid for the start, and the fifth spot really isn't that bad. You can win from anywhere here, and we're going to have to do that to stay in the championship race."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "We're very happy with the balance of the Klein Tools/Canadian Club car, and it seems reasonably quick, as well. That is something that we haven't had all year on tracks similar to this. I'd say this is the best we've ran on a 1.5-mile oval this year."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "This track has really been a good track for our team, and our car seems to be quite good this weekend. Hopefully, we will be able to repeat and win this year as well. The Penske cars are strong here, but I think we have really good potential for the race."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "Our qualifying went pretty well. We ended up right about where we practiced, so that's good. I could have been maybe just a bit higher, but we ended up right in the pack that we expected to be in. I think we have a good race car for tomorrow, so I'm anxious to get the car to the front and see what we can do."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "I'm happy with our qualification run. The surface changes here a lot. This is one of the bumpiest tracks we go to, and it's different every season. This year, though, I think it is better. We know our car will be better for the race, we're just a little behind on our qualification set up. The Lincoln Tech car is good, and we know it won't be a problem to run at the front. Everybody on the team has been picking things up and we just keep pushing every weekend."

SCOTT SHARP: (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 10th): "The car was a little bit tighter than we hoped it would be for qualifying. We hoped we would be about a tenth [of a second] quicker, which would have moved us up quite a few spots. This track is so wide, it is great racing for our cars and the fans. If you have a pretty good race car, you can go three wide here so it really doesn't matter that much where you start. But we are all pretty competitive and want to be first, of course. I would love to repeat [the win last year at Kentucky] with the Delphi Fernandez team. Last year, we started eighth here and made a ton of changes to the car and it took us awhile to get it right and then it was like a shot out of a cannon. We were super strong. I think we are going to be fine tomorrow."

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The next IndyCar Series event is the Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 13 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be telecast live by ABC Sports and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the WAMZ 100 on Aug. 13 at Kentucky Speedway. ESPN2's coverage of the WAMZ 100 will be televised at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 14.

-credit: indy racing league

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Luis Diaz , Dan Wheldon , Max Angelelli , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Jeff Bucknum , Marty Roth , Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Travis Gregg , John Barnes , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing