IRL: Castroneves breaks record to claim Detroit pole

Team Penske's Helio Castroneves claimed his twenty-fourth career pole, and record-breaking seventh of the 2007 IndyCar Series season, for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on Sunday (September 2nd). Castroneves' best time of 1:12.0688 (103.401...

Team Penske's Helio Castroneves claimed his twenty-fourth career pole, and record-breaking seventh of the 2007 IndyCar Series season, for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on Sunday (September 2nd).

Castroneves' best time of 1:12.0688 (103.401 mph) bested Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti and Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon for the top spot on the grid.

"This team is incredible," Castroneves said afterwards. "I can't thank my guys enough, the entire Team Penske. I'm super-excited. I'm extremely happy, just cannot explain in words. Tomorrow is going to be a good one! It's incredible, and so good to be back at Belle Isle!"

Andretti Green championship contender Dario Franchitti will line up on the outside of the front row alongside Castroneves. Franchitti overcame a mishap in the morning pre-qualifications practice when he struck the concrete corner barrier in turn seven, damaging the right rear suspension of his car and prompting a hasty repair in the AGR garages.

"After the crew repaired the car the day wasn't too difficult, and we went out and did what we could," he said. "That's all we had so I parked it." His qualifying time of 1:12.1430 (103.295 mph) was quicker by nearly a second than his time in the ill-fated practice session.

Indy Racing League championship points leader Scott Dixon will line up on the second row after a lap at 102.669 mph on the 2.07 mile street course laid out on beautiful Belle Isle Park in the heart of Detroit, Michigan.

"We had a pretty good car the first session," he said. "I took it cautious because I had a lot of understeer. We were up in some sections, down in others. At least we're up near the front at the start, and our car is typically better on long fuel runs than qualifying, so I hope that carries on."

AGR teammates Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti qualified fourth and sixth after the conclusion of the Firestone Fast Six knock-out session that determines the front six at Indy Racing League non-oval venues.

Ryan Hunter-Reay will start fifth after cracking the AGR/Ganassi/Penske gridlock at the top of the IndyCar timesheets during the full qualifying session.

His luck ran out, however, when his car ran out of fuel and slowed to a halt (bringing out a local yellow) in the complex of corners at the inner loop of this twisty, tree-covered circuit scant minutes from downtown Motor City.

IRL 2006 champion and Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish, Jr ran to a best time of 1:13.6224 (101.219 mph) to take seventh, followed by Foyt Racing's Darren Manning in eighth. Vision's Tomas Scheckter and Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira round out the top ten for tomorrow's 3:45 PM EDT start.

Among other notables, Danica Patrick qualified eleventh with a best speed of 100.153 mph.

Dan Wheldon, so frustrated with his car and speed that he stalked in silence, alone, still in HANS, firesuit and helmet, from the impound area to his trailer without speaking to his team or the media, will begin the race in a humbling sixteenth position.

Wheldon's lap of 98.235 mph left him faster than only two other competitors: Rahal Letterman's Scott Sharp and Dreyer & Reinbold's Sarah Fisher.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Sarah Fisher , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Danica Patrick , Sam Hornis
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing