IRL: Castroneves and Hornish lead qualifying at Nazareth

IRL: Castroneves and Hornish lead qualifying at Nazareth

Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. claimed the front row for tomorrow's Firestone Indy 225. It is the 100th IRL race, taking place at the track Roger Penske paved -- and also the track where Team Penske won its...

Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. claimed the front row for tomorrow's Firestone Indy 225. It is the 100th IRL race, taking place at the track Roger Penske paved -- and also the track where Team Penske won its 100th Indy car race. It will be the final Indy car race at the unique oval.

Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves.
Photo by Bob Kozel - KOZ DPI.
Castroneves had given Penske Racing its eighth pole at Nazareth, the first time the team has taken the front row since Richmond in 2002. Castroneves and Hornish's qualifying speeds were 167.396 mph and 167.100 mph, respectively, the only qualifiers above the 167 mph mark. Thanks to this year's 3.0 liter engines, speeds were down from Gil de Ferran's 2002 record of 172.778 mph, but that did not seem to spoil the challenge or the enjoyment.

"Hopefully this will be the first of many front row starts with Sam," Castroneves said. "I'm happy for the entire staff. We have to keep working. Not only for the team, but Toyota also. Everybody is working so hard to accomplish what we want. So far it seems we have a good car. But races always change, especially this place here. It's very difficult to pass, and we're going to have a lot of traffic."

"The car was handling real well," Hornish said, " and it did just about everything it needed to do. We left a little bit out there. We were geared a bit short - we didn't expect to go that fast. The speeds were up from this morning. When Helio put that time up, I thought it was a pretty good time. I knew I had to go out and beat Tony (Kanaan). The Marlboro Team Penske guys have worked very hard. They probably put in more time than Helio and I combined. We always wanted to do good, but this is an extra special race, being the last race here at Nazareth. It's got a lot of history with Indy-style racing. Plus, it's the 100th race in the IRL. I want to win every race I'm in, but this one will mean a little bit more."

It almost looks like Christmas in August, with the red Team Penske cars followed by the two Andretti-Green cars of teammates Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti in the second row. On the inside is Tony Kanaan, currently leading the season Championship.

"I would like to have been on the pole," Kanaan said, " but the Team 7-Eleven car ran well. We just had a little too much understeer. I do like the way it feels for the race and I think we'll have a strong run tomorrow. The best way to win championships is towin race, so that's what we're trying to do.

Franchitti wasn't quite as optimistic. "I'm a bit disappointed in my qualifying run," he said, "but I think the ArcaEx car will be a decent race car. I just had too much understeer. My teammates had that, too, and we just didn't make quite enough of a change to get a perfect car. We're pretty good in race trim and I'll try to get the ArcaEx car up front and we'll see what happens. It's so tight here at Nazareth and anything can happen.

Fifth place qualifier Darren Manning seemed happier with his lot, despite the difficulty of passing anyone here. "It's always nice to qualify in the top five," he said, and it certainly bodes well for the race. I'm happy with my qualifying run, especially since we didn't get to do a second run on new tires in this morning's practice like most everyone else. We did take a bit of a guess estimate as a result, but that ended up working out pretty well. The test we ran for Toyota here not long ago definitely paid off for us. I really like our race setup for the No. 10 Toyota/Panoz G Force."

The Firestone Indy 225 is scheduled to take the green flag at 2:25 PM EDT tomorrow. The live telecast on ABC TV will begin at 2:00.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Roger Penske , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske