Marlboro Team Penske's Helio Castroneves claimed his sixth pole of the season, and fifteenth of his five-year IndyCar career, today at Kentucky Speedway in qualifications for the Indy Racing League's Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and ...
Marlboro Team Penske's Helio Castroneves claimed his sixth pole of the season, and fifteenth of his five-year IndyCar career, today at Kentucky Speedway in qualifications for the Indy Racing League's Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret.
Bumping teammate Sam Hornish, Jr. from the inside of the front row, the Brazilian ace capped his performance with a fastest lap of 218.328 mph, besting Hornish' effort by a mere twenty-three thousandth of a second.
"Earlier this morning we were trying for the race setup. (This afternoon) it was very close between Sam and me. That shows that both cars are extremely close. Just a little wind or something is the difference. I've very happy at this moment. It's looking good!" he said.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon, the defending IRL champion, put up a 217.003 mph speed to place himself on the interior of the second row, alongside Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan (217.766 mph) and one row ahead of his TGR teammate Scott Dixon (216.712 mph). The third through fifth placed cars were a surprising mile an hour slower, and then some, than their Penske rivals.
Scot Dario Franchitti (216.666 mph) took sixth position in the qualifying session that went off without a hitch in eighty-degree weather at sun- drenched Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. Kosuke Matsoura (216.392 mph) followed, and in turn Ed Carpenter who weathered a controversy over the temperature of the fuel in his car to post a solid 216.389 mph performance. IRL officials ultimately declared that the ambient air requirement was met by his team in preparing his Number 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone racer.
Vitor Meira's 216.182 mph lap put him ninth on the grid and Scott Sharp took the last of the top ten positions with a lap of 215.889 mph.
The "Rumble in the Bluegrass" took on the look of a long-distance chess match as Danica Patrick (215.456 mph) and Sarah Fisher (215.066 mph) made game efforts with less-than-perfect cars. Patrick, taking the green flag for the last three races of her Rahal/Letterman career, put the point on the issues with her car quickly. "We've been struggling with gear ratios. I'm not getting much help on that. It is what it is. The car is pretty solid. I hope they would get the gears right" she said in a radio interview immediately after her qualifying run.
Elaborating later, when she had time to evaluate her results and compare them to her teammates, she went on: "My team is doing everything that they can. They're working hard. They're using every resource they can and that's all I can ask."
Almost reflexively, conditioned by the tidal wave of questions she's been peppered with regarding her impending move to Andretti Green Racing, she added "I have to find out who has the most resourceful and most creative and deep team.who has drivers I can learn from, who has different information, that's what I'm looking for in my change (of teams). My engineer Ray (Leto) is a very good engineer. My teammates and I touch base on what's going on inside the cock pit. We have slightly different styles so it doesn't all translate but we always know what each other are doing."
AGR's Bryan Herta ( 214.989 mph) and Patrick teammates Buddy Rice (214.541 mph) and Jeff Simmons (214.524 mph) will line up for Sunday's 3:30 PM EDT start, broadcast live on ABC Sports, ahead of Marco Andretti (213.977 mph) and Marty Roth ( 213.362 mph) to complete the nineteen car field.