Toyota Indy 400/California 100 Day 2 Notebook Castroneves Wins MBNA Pole for Toyota Indy 400 FONTANA, Calif., Friday, Sept. 19, 2003 -- Helio Castroneves won the MBNA Pole Sept. 20 for the Toyota Indy 400 at California Speedway. Castroneves...
Toyota Indy 400/California 100 Day 2 Notebook
Castroneves Wins MBNA Pole for Toyota Indy 400
FONTANA, Calif., Friday, Sept. 19, 2003 -- Helio Castroneves won the MBNA Pole Sept. 20 for the Toyota Indy 400 at California Speedway. Castroneves turned a lap of 31.7521 seconds, 226.757 mph in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.
MBNA POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
This is Helio Castroneves' fourth career MBNA Pole. He won from the MBNA Pole in 2002 in Phoenix and in 2003 at Gateway. His other pole came in May at the 87th Indianapolis 500, and he finished second in the race.
Marlboro Team Penske has won eight IRL IndyCar Series MBNA Poles.
Kenny Brack qualified second, tying his career best. He qualified second in 1998 at Walt Disney World and in 2003 at Gateway.
Dan Wheldon qualified a career best fourth. His previous best effort was fifth in 2003 at Japan and Indianapolis.
Helio Castroneves won the MBNA Pole today using a Toyota engine. A Toyota engine has won the MBNA Pole in 11 races this season, more than any other engine.
MBNA POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):
"It was generally pretty good. I think we've geared our downforce level more for the race. We'll just see how it plays out. We concentrated on the race. We need to win the race, not qualifying."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"We worked all day yesterday on our race setup. This morning we were a little bit behind. We've done this; we know what the car will do when we put qualifying trim on it. Obviously, we would like to go a little bit quicker. This track is so wide and so fast you can really win this race starting from anywhere, but it is always better to start up front. Yesterday in really windy conditions our car worked as good or better than anyone."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"It sets you behind a little bit. Unfortunately, I missed our team's test here, too, so I didn't have the benefit of doing all that stuff. It's gotten more comfortable. There's always small differences (between cars), but my guys worked really hard to take all those differences out. It's still not totally where we'd like it, but we definitely made progress there for qualifying. It was a little windy yesterday afternoon, so that made it tough in Turn 2. This place is kind of always like that. Wind conditions, the heat and everything has a big play in it."
RICHIE HEARN (No. 91 Metabolife/Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"The track's pretty good. We weren't too concerned about qualifying considering that we didn't get to test and they (Hemelgarn) have been with the same driver for a long time. We're both kind of learning our way here. We're just getting ready for the race, and I knew we weren't going to qualify spectacularly because we just didn't spend any time on it. What's more important is the race. Hopefully, we can have a decent race car, and if we do, you'll forget all about where you qualify."
ALEX BARRON (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"At this point, we've got a good qualifying set up. The test we had here last week really paid off. We have a little bit of work to do with race setup. We have been in the slow group for practice. You can't really gauge yourself because a lot of the cars don't group up and run together. We won't really know where we are at until we do the warm-up this afternoon."
ED CARPENTER (No. 18 Metabolife Ultra Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"We had a really good practice this morning. I thought we were going to be a little bit faster in qualifying. We've been running on full tanks in the Metabolife Ultra car all weekend, so I think we'll have a good car for the race and just take the Chevy power to the front. I'm going to focus on getting a good race car, moving to the front and improving on the pit stops from Chicago."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Sometimes it's an advantage to be the last qualifier, and sometimes it's a disadvantage. I think today I wanted to be the first guy because I knew it was going to get hot. At these types of places, the heat affects the downforce and the way that the engine works. I'm happy. Honda did a great job. They stepped up the game, and the whole 7-Eleven team, they've been working flat out. We came here to test and try to find the speed, and it looks like we did. I was concentrating hard on qualifying in the front. I didn't want to start 15th like I did at Michigan or 16th like in Chicago. It seems exactly like Michigan, but it's a lot harder to pass. I want to be in the front, especially fighting for the championship. A lot can happen in the back. It can happen at the front too, but I'd rather be up there with the guys I'm fighting for the championship with."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Yesterday I think our time came just at the right time, so I didn't expect as much today. I think we over anticipated the heat, and we geared ourselves too short. The engine was pulling, but we weren't going anywhere. We've started in the midpack and worked our way up, so I don't think this is a bad deal. It doesn't really matter where you qualify."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):
"I have to thank all of Marlboro Team Penske. They worked extremely hard, especially after the last race, which wasn't where we were supposed to be. I guess that happens in racing. They did a hell of a job. Toyota did an excellent job, and Firestone was awesome, as well. Everything is going the way we are planning, but until the checkered flag, you can't count on it. But today, we're extremely happy. That's what we need to be thinking about and enjoy this moment."
About track conditions:
"The only concern for me was a little bit of wind. We tested this morning with no wind at all, so basically, that's what we planned for. Now we'll switch pace and be patient for tomorrow."
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Team Rahal did a fantastic job of getting the car to where it needs to be for qualifying. I think we got the most out of it that we had, and it was good enough for second. I'm happy to be starting up there, because I think you can avoid a lot of stuff in the beginning of the race by a good starting spot. It's been a tough season for us, so for sure, it's great to have a good qualifying result. But if you look back through the last few races, we've actually qualified pretty good in a lot of places, but we haven't been able to match the race pace. Yes, it's true, you can qualify deep in the field and still win the race if you have the car and everything to do it. That is providing everything goes right at the start because, obviously, it's a bigger chance of getting involved in something if you're in the middle of the pack than if you're at the front. So from that perspective, it's better being at the front, but it does not guarantee, by any means, a race win. That's going to be down to the team that manages to put together the best race car."
About the race:
"It's going to be quite similar to what we've seen earlier this year. To me, they're like two-hour sprint races. Everybody is running side by side from the start to the finish. It's not really a lot of difference. It's the way this racing is. It's packs of cars. Maybe you don't make as aggressive moves in the beginning or the middle as you do in the end, but still I don't see how it could be any different. The championship fight is very close, so you can't afford to give anything, I would think. I want to win a race. I'm not in the championship race, but I still want to win a race, so there's a lot of factors. I can't see how it should be any different than what you've been seeing before."