Castroneves enters Sunday’s race 31 points ahead of Scott Dixon, who will start second.
SONOMA, Calif. – Will Power and Helio Castroneves led Team Penske to top-five starting positions Saturday during qualifying for Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Castroneves, the IZOD IndyCar Series championship leader, was clocked at 1:18.1766 in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet and he will start fifth on Sunday.
Power will be looking for his first win of the year and his third victory at Sonoma following wins in 2010 and 2011 while Castroneves will try to secure his second Sonoma win to go along with his 2008 triumph.
“It’s been a tough weekend but it was a pretty solid qualifying result for Verizon Team Penske,” said Power, who led the second round of qualifying before posting the third-fastest lap in the Firestone Fast Six. “We’ve been working hard to get it right this weekend and we ran well but it just wasn’t quite enough to catch the Ganassi guys, and I’m not sure anyone was going to be able to beat (pole winner) Dario (Franchitti).”
Entering the race weekend ranked 11th in the championship standings, Power earned his fifth top-three starting spot in his six career starts at the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway.
Castroneves enters Sunday’s race 31 points ahead of Scott Dixon, who will start second. After struggling to advance throughout the qualifying rounds, the three-time Indy 500 winner was happy to earn his ninth consecutive top-five starting position at Sonoma.
“We had to work really hard to get this starting position,” said Castroneves. “The first (qualifying) group was really brutal because of the different tires and series running out there. I struggled just to pass the first group, but thank God for the Hitachi guys. They did a hell of a job just tweaking from the right point on the setup of the car, and we were able to position ourselves for (qualifying) 2 and (qualifying) 3.”
Castroneves will be trying to keep alive a couple of impressive streaks on Sunday. He is the only driver to complete every lap of competition this season and he has also recorded 10 top-10 finishes in a row. Team Penske has won the last three consecutive races at Sonoma and four out of the last five at the wine country road course.
Live coverage of Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will begin at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:40 p.m. ET.