IRL: Michigan: Qualifying report

CASTRONEVES CLAIMS SECOND STRAIGHT INDYCAR SERIES POLE BROOKLYN, Mich., Saturday, July 29, 2006 -- Helio Castroneves claimed his second consecutive Marlboro Pole Award, claiming the top starting position for the July 30 Firestone Indy 400 at ...

CASTRONEVES CLAIMS SECOND STRAIGHT INDYCAR SERIES POLE

BROOKLYN, Mich., Saturday, July 29, 2006 -- Helio Castroneves claimed his second consecutive Marlboro Pole Award, claiming the top starting position for the July 30 Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Castroneves, who won the pole at Milwaukee last weekend, posted a lap of 33.2138 seconds, 216.777 mph, in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Castroneves' time was .0477 of a second faster than his teammate Sam Hornish Jr., who recorded a lap of 33.2615, 216.466 mph, in his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Tony Kanaan was third-quickest at 33.5253, 214.763 mph in his No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Honda-powered Dallara while Ed Carpenter (214.540 mph) and Scott Dixon (214.273 mph) were fourth and fifth, respectively in their Honda-powered Dallaras. It was Carpenter's best qualifying performance in the IndyCar Series.

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1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier makes his return to the IndyCar Series this weekend behind the wheel of the No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry. Lazier last drove for the team at Kansas Speedway earlier this month.

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"The deal to put me in the car came together last minute. We are working on building the team as a whole. My whole point this year was to help build the information for Dreyer & Reinbold. Right now, we're trying to make this car as good as it can possibly be, and somehow find a way to race it to the front. We went into Kansas, the last place I raced at, with a seventh in qualifying and we really built some momentum. I'm trying to get that momentum back. We had it for qualifying in Kansas but not for the race. We are working this weekend to get that momentum for the race. We didn't focus on qualifying here in Michigan and unfortunately it shows."

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Indy Pro Series graduate Marty Roth will make his first IndyCar Series start of the season and third start of his career at Michigan International Speedway. Roth, who failed to qualify for the 90th Indianapolis 500 earlier this year, last started an IndyCar Series event at the 89th Indianapolis 500 in 2005.

MARTY ROTH (No. 25 Roth Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"We hope to pop a few more (races) in this year. We're working on developing the team for next year, and hopefully, we can run a full season. Right now, I'm just taking it one race at a time. We've been testing here over the last month, developing the car. It's a great car, but we're lacking a little speed right now. We have some work to do between tonight and tomorrow. We're really happy with the progression we've made since the month of May."

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FIRESTONE INDY 400 POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

This is Helio Castroneves' fourth earned pole this season and the 15th earned pole of his IndyCar Series career, extending his IndyCar Series record for career pole positions. This is the fifth time he has started first this season. He won the pole last weekend at 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 eighth pole position of the season and its 27th pole in the IndyCar Series, extending its IndyCar Series record.

Sam Hornish Jr. will start second for the fourth consecutive race. It is his seventh front-row start. It is the second 1-2 start for Marlboro Team Penske in as many weeks. They also shared the front row at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and started 1-2 at Indianapolis in May.

Ed Carpenter qualified fourth, his career-best start. His previous best start was seventh last weekend at Milwaukee and at Texas in June 2004.

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FIRESTONE INDY 400 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Marlboro Pole Award winner): "The Marlboro Team Penske team is in a great atmosphere right now. Sam and I have been sharing information, and I think it's been benefiting both of us. Sam is very talented, and it's good to have him on our team. He's pushed me to become better. We met this morning and we both knew we had fast cars. Maybe the wind helped me out and made me a little quicker. We predicted we'd be about where we're at. We're very happy."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "Everything has gone well for us. We've had a really good car not only in qualifying trim but also in race trim, so we're really looking forward to tomorrow's race. We really have a good shot to go out there and maybe get out of here with a win. The goal is to have a Marlboro Team Penske one-two and Helio got the one today so I'll get the one tomorrow. That's the plan."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We never really worked on a qualifying setup today. We've just focused on the race. Team 7-Eleven has done a great job today. We're carrying some momentum from our win last week at Milwaukee. Michigan is a completely different type of track, but the team is pumped, I'm excited and I think something has carried over to this weekend."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "We've been working hard all year and you know we've had good race cars everywhere we've been. For a couple races I was struggling with qualifying and we've really been putting a lot of effort into our qualifying to get our starting spots up. It makes it easier when you start with the quick guys here because you just hang on to them. The race car has been great up here in Michigan and it's been fast since we've unloaded it, and I'm really looking forward tomorrow's race."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "We were a lot better this morning in practice when we were running in the 215 mph range. I'm not sure why we were so slow in qualifying. This Michigan track is a challenging place and the track doesn't have much grip. The starting position actually doesn't really matter as long as you are in the top 10. You want to stay there for most of the race until the final sprint. There are two or three lanes to run in but the No. 9 Target car is definitely stronger on the highline and I can run very near the wall. We just need to concentrate on putting together a really strong race set up and we should be good to go."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Revive Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "Honestly, we thought we would be even faster today, but luckily Michigan is a track where qualifying doesn't really matter. Even though we know we could have been quicker, sixth is a good start and this is our first time on a two-mile oval this season. We're going to be strong in the race tomorrow, just like we have been all season in our Revive No. 4 car. The race here is always very packed up and you have to be aggressive here in a lot of ways -- both with the way you drive and in your strategy. You do have to be patient early because this race is a big chess match. It's going to be a fun one."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "The race car felt pretty good this morning and that's really what we worked on during both practice sessions this morning. I'm actually surprised about our qualifying speed because we really have focused so much on the Klein Tools/Canadian Club car in race trim. So, hopefully we'll have a race car we can contend with."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "The car has been really good, but we've seemed kind of slow on the straights. We're looking at it, and we'll get it figured it out before tomorrow's race. The team had two successful qualifying runs so we are in a strong position heading into tomorrow's race."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "I really thought we'd be better today. We were definitely off the pace and I don't know why. We were pretty quick this morning (215.186 mph) and I didn't think the conditions had changed that much. We'll just have to look at the data and see what we can improve and just keep working at it. That first lap was the most I was going to get out of the car so I just brought it in to save the tires for the race."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 10th): "The speed was OK today with the No. 15 Argent Honda. It wasn't anywhere near the pole, but it was the fastest we have run today. But that isn't what we are concentrating on right now. We are working on the race. We need to get a car that will get us in the lead pack and then improve on the setup throughout the race. We need to have a car that runs with the traffic. We have had a good car in recent speedway races, and we need to continue that trend. Hopefully, we can get a result that shows how the team has advanced with the Dallara chassis. I have always liked coming here since my first IndyCar race at MIS. I started on the front row and nearly won my very first race. Then winning here two years ago was one of the best feelings in my career. I sure would like to do that again and win the race Sunday."

The next IndyCar Series event is the Firestone Indy 400 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on July 30 at Michigan International 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 Kentucky 100 on August 13 at Kentucky Speedway.

-www.indycar.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Marty Roth , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing