IRL: Chicagoland: Qualifying report

Castroneves Wins Second-Consecutive Pole JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004 -- Helio Castroneves earned his second-consecutive MBNA Pole Award after he was the fastest qualifier for the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Castroneves...

Castroneves Wins Second-Consecutive Pole

JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004 -- Helio Castroneves earned his second-consecutive MBNA Pole Award after he was the fastest qualifier for the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Castroneves recorded a lap around the 1.5-mile oval at 25.4797 seconds, 214.759 mph, in his No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. IRL IndyCar® Series points leader Tony Kanaan joined him on the front row for Sunday's Delphi Indy 300 when he recorded a lap of 25.5665 seconds, 214.030 mph.

Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice (25.5889 seconds, 213.843 mph) was third, followed by Dario Franchitti (25.6127 seconds, 213.644 mph) and Dan Wheldon (25.6745 seconds, 213.130 mph). A.J. Foyt IV, the 20-year-old grandson of four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt, will start a career-best sixth in the 22-car field.

The Delphi Indy 300 is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 12. It will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The Chicagoland 100 will be broadcast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 16.


HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was great, a great team effort. Marlboro Team Penske worked really hard to make sure that we covered all the areas. I have to also mention Toyota. They've been working very hard through the season to catch those Hondas and Chevy. Speed on qualifying we seem to be able to find at some races. A little bit here, a little bit there. I'm truly happy about it today. It was a great combination of Toyota and Team Penske. Obviously, the day that's going to pay the bucks is tomorrow, but right now I'm just going to enjoy the moment. Hopefully tomorrow continues the momentum." (About Sunday's race): "(In practice,) there were about 10 cars side-by-side just like starting the race. I don't expect anything different than that. Before qualifying, I was watching the race from last year, and it seems to be pretty much in that ballpark. It's going to be a good show, for sure. We just have to be patient. I know Tony (Kanaan) wants to win the championship, and I want to win the race. It's the perfect combination for both guys on the front row. For sure, it's going to be tight and a lot of people shoving and trying to find space." (About advice he received from teammate Sam Hornish Jr. prior to his qualifying run): "The team talked to him. I didn't talk specifically with him, the team talked with him. He mentioned that they didn't change anything from this morning, so basically we didn't try to make any dramatic changes from this morning to this afternoon. I do believe that the big gain that I had was mostly do to the temperature. It was really hot. When it's hotter like that, you lose downforce, and you also lose drag. That makes the car go much faster. We didn't touch anything from this morning, and I was expecting to do around 213 or 213.5 (mph). That speed came from the heat."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The same as this morning. After the morning session, we tried a bunch of different things, but we knew 214 (mph) was what we could do. After I did my qualifying lap and I matched my practice time, I knew I took everything out of my car. I have to say Helio (Castroneves) did surprise me. When he did his warm-up lap at 214.1 (mph), I knew I was done, anyways. They did a good job, but we have a good car for the race. So let's go race. It's great to be up in the front, because you have less people to deal with in the beginning of the race. We'll see what's going to happen."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We're looking forward to a good weekend. I'm a little bit disappointed in our qualifying effort, but I'm looking forward to this race. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car is very strong. The main thing is to have a good race car, which I think we've got, but you've got to make sure you stay on top of the conditions, as well."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Conseco car's been good since we got here. We worked hard to set it up to run as free as possible, and it paid off. Toyota has been working real hard to get us up front, and I think with (Helio Castroneves) on the pole, their hard work is showing, also. It feels good."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I wish we would have had a little more in the XM Satellite Radio car, but it's what we had, and we'll take it. The track is in great shape, and it's a beautiful day, so we couldn't ask for much better conditions to qualify here today. For the team, a lot of the sponsors are located in the Chicago area so that makes it a little extra special.

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "Qualifying was fine. Obviously, we would have liked to qualified a little bit better. We did a better time yesterday. (Sunday) is going to be a tough race. At this track, you can run three-wide, so there is going to be a pack of cars together all the time. It's a race that we'll have to be smart and be careful to make sure to not get in trouble. I think we have a good car. We ran well in traffic yesterday, so I think we are looking good."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "During the morning practice today, we found a little problem in the engine. Rather than damage it, we wanted to play it safe and decided to change it out. That way, we can run the race motor in the last practice session this afternoon, and we can be a lot stronger tomorrow. The Pennzoil Panther car will be great tomorrow, and we'll work our way to the front again."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Our qualifying run was pretty good. The Marlboro Team Penske car was consistent, and we're starting in the top 10. Chicagoland is a good track for me, as it's all about the draft, being patient and making the right move at the right time. The car was good in traffic during yesterday's practice, so we'll see where we're at this afternoon. You never know what is going to happen on race day, but hopefully, things will work out for us, we'll have good pit stops and bring home a strong finish."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "I was looking for more out of the car in qualifying, but the Centrix car was pretty freed up. I don't know where the other guys are getting their speed right now. The car feels good, and qualifying really doesn't mean that much at a place like this. The track is very similar to Kansas, and (teammate) Buddy (Rice) and I ran well there, so I expect the race to be very much the same Sunday. I just want to get one more spot higher than at Kansas. Qualifying up front here means that you can possibly stay out of trouble if you are in the lead pack. I think that Honda will have the front-running cars during the race just because of the consistently strong engine. We have worked on our race setup this weekend already, and the car is very good, so I expect the usual crazy, three-wide type of racing, and everyone gets in position for the final 20 laps."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a pretty good number for us, but I know we have a very good race car, and that is what we are looking for on Sunday. We are going to get our race strategy together and not worry about the points or any other drivers. We have been good on the 1.5-mile ovals throughout the year. We can't worry about points right now. We need to do what we have been doing all year, and the race will work out for us. There is no need to change the things that have been successful for us this year. I was on the 'pine' last year here and had to watch, but my fortunes have changed a lot since then, and I'm thrilled with the year and working with the Rahal Letterman team, Honda and our primary sponsors Pioneer and Argent Mortgage. This is a team that knows how to win and run up front. That has given me and my team a lot of confidence. The race on Sunday will be very spectacular for the fans with the three-wide racing. This place was built with the IndyCar Series cars in mind. There is a bump on the backstraight this year, and I'm sure they will address it over the winter. We have to drive around it most of the time now. "


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske