Milwaukee: Series qualifying report

BRISCOE WINS POLE FOR ABC SUPPLY/A.J. FOYT 225 WEST ALLIS, WIS. (Saturday, May 30, 2009) - Team Penske drivers will start at opposite ends of the grid for the May 31 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. Defending race winner Ryan ...

BRISCOE WINS POLE FOR ABC SUPPLY/A.J. FOYT 225

WEST ALLIS, WIS. (Saturday, May 30, 2009) - Team Penske drivers will start at opposite ends of the grid for the May 31 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. Defending race winner Ryan Briscoe will start first after winning his fifth career IndyCar Series pole, while Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will start 20th after crashing during PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying.

Briscoe recorded a four-lap qualifying average of 1 minute, 26.7966 seconds, 168.394 mph to earn his first pole since the 2008 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway. Graham Rahal will start second at Milwaukee for the second consecutive season after a qualifying effort of 168.117 mph.

Tony Kanaan, a two-time winner at Milwaukee, will start third beside 2008 series champion Scott Dixon. Mario Morae s and Hideki Mutoh share Row 4, and Danica Patrick and Dario Franchitti will start from Row 5.

Castroneves, who became the ninth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three or more times, will start from the back after his No. 3 car made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 on his first qualifying lap. Castroneves will start 20th or worse for the third time in the last four races on ovals. He ended the 2008 season with a win from the 28th starting position at Chicagoland, and last month he drove from 21st to second at Kansas.

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The ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 will be the sixth IndyCar Series event at The Milwaukee Mile. Past winners Ryan Briscoe (2008), Tony Kanaan (2006-07), and Dario Franchitti (2004) are entered in the event.

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Helio Castroneves will attempt to become the 10th driver to follow a victory in the Indianapolis 500 with a win the following race at The Milwaukee Mile.

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske):

(About his week since winning the Indianapolis 500): "It was busy. We were in New York for a day and a half, and then we went to Texas for about a day as well and then Chicago to have a media luncheon with the folks over there. It was a great message. It was fantastic to be a part of this again. I remember when I did it in 2002 it was a lot of fun. Somehow it was even more fun this year. It was great. It was really cool."

(About attempting to become the 10th driver to follow up a win at Indianapolis with a win at Milwaukee) "Ryan (Briscoe) definitely was incredible in developing the car. Winning last year gives us confidence that we're going to have very good equipment again this year. We want to continue the momentum to this race and have two strong cars for this race. It's a different track. We're going from 2.5-miles to a 1-mile oval, but everybody is going to feel that change. Even though we don't achieve the speed of going 200 mph on the racetrack, inside the car it feels like you're going 200 mph because everything happens so fast. It's a tradition place. It's always nice to come back to Milwaukee. Hopefully I'll be the 10th driver to do that."

(About what he wants to accomplish at Milwaukee) "To me, to break the karma. I do very good in qualifying, and it's incredible, I really have a lot of fun. Unfortunately, during the race something always happens. We try to cover everything this time to make sure we have a good result. This place is so awesome. Coming from a 2.5 mile oval to 1-mile, and constantly in traffic. It doesn't matter if you have a good car, you've got to be good in traffic. You do have different lines that you can be very good and fast at."

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Tony Kanaan is still sore from his meeting with the outside wall and Turn 3 SAFER Barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, but at least he's considerably cooler.

Kanaan shaved his head - ahead of consummating the deal he made with IndyCar Series points leader Dario Franchitti earlier in the season. He had Franchitti's blessing.

The pact: When Franchitti won (as he did at Long Beach), Kanaan would have to let his hair grow until he won a race - and vice versa (with Franchitti remaining shaved).

"Dario let me cut it after Indy," said Kanaan, who still was sporting the underbrush during the 500 Victory Celebration on May 25 (he's shown in photo with son Leonardo during an outing this week near their Florida home). "He either felt sorry for me after the crash or he thought I was too ugly for long hair and let me do it. I thought I should do it before he changed his mind. A lot of people think that I broke the bet, but that's not true. It was with his permission."

Kanaan incurred bruising around his ribs and legs in the single-car incident on Lap 98 as the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car experienced a mechanical failure.

"I'm as good as I can be; I can't complain. I'm here walking instead of limping, and for sure it's going to be a tough weekend for me but I'm used to it."

Kanaan, fifth in the championship standings, is a two-time winner of the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225. He led Franchitti across the finish line by 2.5 seconds in 2007.

"It's always great to go back to a track that you have won at," said Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 team 7-Eleven car. "Milwaukee has always been a 'pick-me-up' track, since my past few Indy 500s have been tough breaks. The Team 7-Eleven car is always strong in Milwaukee and hopefully the trend is the same this year."

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Middleton, Wis., resident, and member of the Wisconsin National Guard's 1-147th Aviation Battalion, SSG Troy Kleinheinz has been named Panther Racing's "Hometown Hero" for the Milwaukee event this weekend. SSG Kleinheinz entered his military service at age 25 following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Shortly after entering the aviation battalion, he was called to active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kuwait and later by a tour of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.

Kleinheinz was later selected for a full-time position in the training office of the 1-147th Aviation Battalion and is now responsible for managing the flight operations section and provides full-time support scheduling and tracking battalion training. Most recently, SSG Kleinheinz deployed to Egypt in 2006 in support of Operation Bright Star and is again preparing for mobilization in 2010.

SSG Kleinheinz is supported by his wife Melanie, a four-year-old son Thomas, and a two-year old daughter Samantha.

During the weekend, SSG Kleinheinz will sign a specialty-made "Hero Card" with his photo and biography during the IndyCar Series autograph session on Saturday evening. Kleinheinz will sit next to Panther driver Dan Wheldon and sign alongside the 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner. The team will also honor his service during a ceremony in the National Guard's infield training unit on Sunday morning.

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Team 3G will not repair the #98 car that was damaged in an incident during the first IndyCar Series practice session. The team will return to Indianapolis to repair the car and prepare for the Bombardier Learjet 550k June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

GREG BECK (Co-owner, Team 3G): "We are going back to the shop now. Unfortunately, the car was damaged just enough that we couldn't really finish repairing it here. We are going to get ready for Texas and get ready for the rest of the season and just keep plugging away at it. It is tough not to race here. We were really looking forward to it, but we will move on to Texas."

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PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

* Defending race winner Ryan Briscoe wins the PEAK Performance Pole Award. Briscoe started 11th in last year's race.

* This is Briscoe's fifth career pole and his first since the 2008 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.

* This is Team Penske's 44th pole in the IndyCar Series, the most of any team. The team has won the pole for two consecutive races. Helio Castroneves started from the pole at Indianapolis.

* Graham Rahal qualified second at Milwaukee for the second consecutive year. Last year, he finished 25th.

* Rahal has qualified fourth or better in three consecutive races - all on ovals. He has qualified seventh or better for every race this season.

* Tony Kanaan qualified third.

* Scott Dixon qualified fourth, his third consecutive top-five start.

* Mario Moraes qualified a career-best fifth. His previous best was sixth at Kansas earlier this season.

* Hideki Mutoh qualified a season-best seventh. His previous best was 13th at Kansas. Mutoh's last top-10 start was fourth at Kentucky last season.

* Danica Patrick qualified seventh, her third consecutive top-10 start.

* Tomas Scheckter qualified 10th in his first start with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

* Rookie Mike Conway qualified a career-best 11th. His previous best was 12th at St. Petersburg.

* 2009 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will start 20th after an incident during qualifying. This will mark the third time he has started 20th or worse in three of the last four races on ovals. In last year's season finale at Chicagoland, Castroneves won after starting 28th. Last month, he finished second at Kansas after starting 21st.

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INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, qualified first): "I knew when I was in front of (Graham) Rahal, it was going to be good. He seems to get around this place pretty good and was on the front row last year. The car was good. I was a bit worried about my teammate (Helio Castroneves) and the Target boys, but thankfully the time held up. We won from 11th last year, so hopefully starting on the front row can get me away from the chaos that always happens the first couple of laps. I had a good race car last year, so hopefully we can replicate that tomorrow."

(About Helio starting in the back): "He always seems to win the races when they put him in the back, so I'll be looking for him in my mirrors, for sure."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, second): "The McDonald's car felt pretty good, but I had a big snap and a big moment on the last lap, and our fourth lap time was three-tenths (of a second) slower than the previous one. If that hadn't happened, I think we would have had pole. We sat on pole so many times this year that we are a little bit spoiled. At the end of the day, the McDonald's boys are doing a great job. Pretty much we showed up today exactly how we ended last year, because we are pretty competitive. We worked on race trim in the morning, and the car was pretty quick. We're going to put on the setup we had for the race last year. The car was good, but I made a mistake. If there was a race from last year that still bothers me, it was this one. The McDonald's boys practiced stops this morning. If I hit my marks, all our stops go well and get to the end, we should be able to have a good finish and be a contender. We have a shot at it tomorrow."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, third): "I have to thank the whole AGR team, the safety crews, and my personal trainer Ryan (Harber) for not only getting me back together but also rebuilding the car in time. While I'm not 100 percent back together, I'm here and very thankful for that. Qualifying went well today for Team 7-Eleven, and I think we will be competitive tomorrow. Hopefully we can get this car into victory circle at the end of the race."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth): "We went out on stickers and tried to do our qualifying sim straight out of the box, and the car was not really very good. Considering that we made the changes and got out here and ended up fourth, really only a tenth (of a second) or so off of pole; you know it's pretty close. We concentrated a lot on race setup, and the race car was good, so I'm pretty confident that we can hopefully improve three spots."

MARIO MORAES (No. 5 KV Racing Technology/Votorantim, fifth): "I am very happy with our qualifying position. The KV Racing Technology team has been working really hard since last weekend's Indy 500, and I spent a lot of time at the shop talking to the engineers. This is just my second time at Milwaukee, so I haven't got that much experience on short ovals, but after our performance today I am confident that we have a good car for the race tomorrow."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, sixth): "We had a good run today. We were quick in the morning session but then struggled with a fuel leak at the end of practice. The No. 27 guys worked really hard to get the issue fixed in time for qualifying. I'm excited for the race tomorrow and hope to have a good solid finish."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, seventh): "I was hoping for a better qualifying run and felt the No. 7 car was strong enough to qualify into the top five. We have a stable, strong car and hopefully we can work our way through the field tomorrow and stay out of trouble. I have started in the last row before here at the (Milwaukee) Mile and made it into the top five without a pit stop, so I'm still confident we can have a great race tomorrow."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 TOM TOM, eighth): "The first lap was pretty terrible; loose in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2, and in (Turns) 3 and 4 it was a really big understeer. I just worked with what I had in the car and got it with a better balance for the second lap. And the third and fourth laps were better. It's not where we want to be, but we can get it done from there."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Marines Luczo Dragon Racing, ninth): "Our goal was top 10, and we qualified ninth, so we're happy. We've been fighting understeer all day long, and we kept improving a little bit here and there throughout the day. We have never tested here and have very little track time, but the engineers did a great job figuring out a few things to improve the Marines Luczo Dragon car. I think we have a little bit more to find and we'll keep chipping away, but I believe we will have a good car tomorrow."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 23 Charter/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, 10th): "It was good considering that we missed out on a session and that we only really had 45 minutes of running. The guys did a great job, and to be in the top 10 with that amount of time, I'm really happy with it. We think we have improved the car, as well, so I'm looking forward to the race."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "I was just going for it. Sometimes you've just got to try, and the car snapped a little bit. I thought I saved it, but then it just slid and brushed the wall, but unfortunately that was the end of qualifying. So it's a shame. The car doesn't seem to be that bad, but when you're going for it, sometimes things like that happen."

(About coming from the back): "This place is always very tough. It's good for Ryan (Briscoe). At least it proves we have a good car. So we're going to try to hopefully have good pit stops and score good points, because now we have a great chance in the championship and we can't just give it away, so hopefully we're going to have a good day tomorrow."

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SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
1:45 p.m. ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 pre-race
2:50 p.m. ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 (225 laps/225 miles)

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The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues May 31 with the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 on May 31 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. on June 1 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Graham Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway , Mario Moraes , Hideki Mutoh , A.J. Foyt , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology , Dragon Racing