IRL: Milwaukee: Qualifying report

CASTRONEVES CLAIMS POLE FOR ABC SUPPLY/A.J. FOYT 225 WEST ALLIS, Wis., Saturday, July 22, 2006 -- Helio Castroneves claimed the Marlboro Pole Award for the July 23 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. Castroneves posted a lap of ...

CASTRONEVES CLAIMS POLE FOR ABC SUPPLY/A.J. FOYT 225

WEST ALLIS, Wis., Saturday, July 22, 2006 -- Helio Castroneves claimed the Marlboro Pole Award for the July 23 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Castroneves posted a lap of 21.1854 seconds, 172.477 mph, in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Castroneves' time broke Sam Hornish Jr.'s 2005 track record and was .0196 of a second faster than Hornish, who recorded a lap of 21.1974, 172.380 mph, in his No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara.

Rookie Marco Andretti was third-quickest at 21.2732, 171.765 mph in his No. 26 NYSE Group Honda-powered Dallara while Tony Kanaan (171.677 mph) and Vitor Meira (170.804 mph) were fourth and fifth, respectively in their Honda-powered Dallaras.

Also on July 22, Jaime Camara passed Wade Cunningham on a late restart to win the Milwaukee 100.

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Gilbert Brown was 9 years old when he was drafted to work with his father's drag racing team. Twenty-five years later, the former Green Bay Packers defensive lineman is part owner of The Milwaukee Mile and its director of new business development.

"I'm a straight-line guy, but you get pulled into something and you get to really see everything first-hand," said Brown, who watched his first IndyCar Series race in person last July at The Mile. "You thought it was something and then you see it's something else. It's a whole new experience. I really love it."

Brown, a longtime Chrysler man who has taken a liking to the Dallara chassis and powerful Honda engines of the IndyCar Series machines that top 170 mph on the flat Milwaukee oval, and other investors acquired the rights to the venerable facility late last year from the state.

Brown's multi-faceted role is divided into short- and long-term goals for the century-old racetrack that is located on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Fair.

"Short term is help put butts in seats," he said. "Long term is to bring a new look and feel to the racetrack; to bring out a different spin on racing for people to enjoy. You have to make it fun -- from the courteous people that greet you at the gates all the way up to the racers themselves. We want to be one of those places where people say 'that was first-class organization.' I think we have the people in place to do that. It's coming, but as they say, you have to crawl before you can walk."

"He has tremendous identification," said Andy Randall, president and CEO of The Milwaukee Mile. "His personality and ability is a plus for us. We are hoping to use him to open doors."

Brown, still near his playing weight of 340 pounds, used to close holes during his 11-year career with the Packers. He retired in 2003 after 125 games. Brown also offered to use his stature to help the series.

"If Danica needs a new bodyguard, I work real cheap," he said. "A kiss on each cheek is all I need."

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Dreyer & Reinbold Racing issued the following statements today regarding its plans for the rest of the season.

DENNIS REINBOLD (Co-owner, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): (About the Sarah Fisher rumor): "Last week, I would have told you that we would have a pretty good chance at getting something together. As of now, it doesn't look very positive. Our whole contingency on that was that we needed to put a budget together for the three races that we have remaining that Ryan [Briscoe] isn't going to drive for us. We had talked to Sarah (Fisher) about that possibility and things gained some momentum and that momentum pretty much went away. At this point and time, I don't know, but it looks pretty doubtful I would say." (About bringing Ryan Briscoe back next year): "We would like to, but we have a long way to go before we can really talk about that with him. He has done a tremendous job, and we are extremely happy with him and really like the idea of him being in our car." (Will Ryan run at Michigan?): "He will not be in the car at Michigan. The program with him was for here, last weekend, and also at Sonoma. So beyond this weekend and Sonoma, I really don't know what we are going to do in the future."

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The four cars of Marlboro Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing are locked in the tightest points race since 2001. Sixteen points separate leader Sam Hornish Jr. from Dan Wheldon heading into Sunday's ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225.

***

Danica Patrick led the final practice session before the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225. Patrick turned a lap of 22.1654, 164.852 mph.

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We seem to have a better race car than qualifying car. I don't think anybody is doing a whole lot out there. It's hard to pass, and it's going to be a race of consistency. Whoever has the most consistent car is going to do the best. My goal is to not go that lap down early on because I'm starting so far back. That obviously happens easily, even on a big oval. We'll have to be mindful of that. I've also learned that a rear end that's not underneath you makes for the worst day of your life on an oval. I think that's the most important thing I'm going to focus on. We can address that issue in pit stops if it's a little over the top. For me, the most important thing is that I can drive it hard and be aggressive."

***

ABC SUPPLY/A.J. FOYT 225 POST-QUALIFYING NOTES

* This is Helio Castroneves' third earned pole this season and the 14th pole of his IndyCar Series career. This is the fourth time he has started first this season. He also started first at Motegi (points), Watkins Glen (practice speed) and Richmond (practice speed) when qualifications were cancelled.

* Castroneves broke Sam Hornish Jr.'s track record of 21.4567 seconds, 170.296 mph set in July 2005. In all, the top six cars broke the track record.

* This is Marlboro Team Penske's seventh pole position of the season and its 26th pole in the IndyCar Series, extending its IndyCar Series record.

* Sam Hornish Jr. will start second for the third consecutive race. It is his sixth front-row start. It is the first 1-2 start for Marlboro Team Penske since Hornish and Castroneves started 1-2 at Indianapolis. They also shared the front row at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March.

* Marco Andretti qualified third, matching his career-best start. He also started third at Watkins Glen in June.

* Jeff Simmons qualified a career-best sixth. His previous best start was 13th at Watkins Glen in June.

* Ed Carpenter qualified seventh, matching his career-best start. He also started seventh at Texas in June 2004.

ABC SUPPLY/A.J. FOYT 225 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Marlboro Pole Award winner): "With all these guys on Team Penske, it's incredible. The lap was kind of hard even though we did the fastest lap. There was a big push in Turns 1 and 2. I think the wind picked up a little bit. I said, 'I know I have the car to make this happen, so we need to make it happen.' What a great group. Sam got the pole last year. We started swapping positions. Hopefully, this year it will be that way as well. Patience is always the key. Patience will pay off."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske DallaraHonda/Firestone, qualified second): "Another close one there. I beat Helio by a little bit last year. He beat me by a little bit here. Hopefully, we'll still win the race tomorrow. It's always nice when we can put these two cars on the front row. A lot of times on the shorter tracks, the more handling tracks, it ends up that way. Hopefully, we'll be able to get a 1-2 out of the race tomorrow. We're really happy with where we're at. The two guys that are closest to Helio and I in the points are starting ninth and 10th. Yeah, they can obviously have a good day tomorrow and come up, but it's always nice to start up front and give ourselves a little bit of a cushion."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "The NYSE car was very good in qualifying, and I'm definitely happy to be starting from the second row. I really like driving on The Milwaukee Mile because it's a driver's track and rewards you when you get the setup right."

TONY KANAAN: (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I don't know if you can ever have too much grip, but today I think we did. We had a lot of grip, which will be good for the race but it took away some of our speed for qualifying. I went flat all the way around and we just weren't fast enough. It sounds bad to complain about being fourth but I really think the Team 7-Eleven car was faster than what we showed. Tomorrow afternoon, nobody will remember who started on pole, but they'll know who won the race."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Revive Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "I think we got everything out of the Revive Panther car that we could. We trimmed it as much as possible, and I was hanging on like it's supposed to be at Milwaukee. I think we're the most trimmed out car here. Now we're going to put on more downforce and get ready for the last practice. We really did everything on the car that we could, and we couldn't have taken any more off the car. I know the racecar is going to be awesome."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "I am proud of the Team Ethanol crew for their effort this weekend. We trimmed out the car a little bit for more speed and the car pushed a little more than in this morning's practice. But overall this is a very good performance with the Dallara chassis. It is nice to continue the progress with the chassis. The way the field is so competitive that you lose a tenth of the second and you could lose five positions. We were hoping to be in the top half of the field this weekend. That is a place we haven't been this year yet. It is a lot easier to run with the leaders when you start up at the front. It is tough coming to a place that you haven't tested, and I am a rookie in the IndyCar Series. So I feel good that we got in a good qualifying run today. Now we have to get a good race setup for Sunday's race. That is a tough race here on the flat racing surface."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "Our weekend has been good. Yesterday we spent a lot of time working on race setup, and yesterday afternoon I would have liked to have been a little quicker. So we all put our heads together last night and made a couple of changes for today and the car is driving really nice. We picked up a little speed from where we practiced, and the field is just so close here. The times have tightened up so much from yesterday to today. I'm happy with my time, and I feel like we have a good car for the race too, so we'll see where we end up."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "I don't think my qualifying run was too good. I think we may have some work to do on the gears, but we'll get a look at it and see what happens tomorrow for the race. We've been practicing well so that's good, and I'm confident that we'll have a good race car. I just wish that I could have had a little better qualifying run."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "I had a problem on my first qualifying lap. I had to lift in Turn 2, that's why there was such a big difference between my first and second laps. The second lap was far more representative of what the XM Satellite Radio car is capable of doing. Milwaukee is a great track that really challenges us. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 10th): "I think we might have been just a bit too conservative in our qualifying setup. There's been a lot of frustration this year on short ovals as the Honda Dallara package is new to the Target team on these tracks and the lack of testing has put us at a disadvantage. Thankfully, this is the last short oval of the year. I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with The Milwaukee Mile. I had some success here early on with Indy Lights, but the last two years have been just awful. Hopefully, we can put that behind us tomorrow, along with a lot of others cars. We'll have to pick up some spots and make our way forward. We just can't let our guard down at all. We made up ground in the championship last week, and we don't want to lose that. We just have to be consistently at the front."

***

The next IndyCar Series event is the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on July 23 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast live by ESPN and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Milwaukee 100 on July 22 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 2 p.m. on July 27. ESPN2's coverage of the Sunbelt Rentals 100 will be telecast at 2 p.m. on July 20.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing