IRL: Penske boys on top at Milwaukee

Marlboro Team Penske has control of the ABC Supply Co/AJ Foyt 225 on the historic Milwaukee Mile tomorrow, as Sam Hornish Jr. and teammate Helio Castroneves posted the fastest speeds, respectively in qualifying for race ...

Marlboro Team Penske has control of the ABC Supply Co/AJ Foyt 225 on the historic Milwaukee Mile tomorrow, as Sam Hornish Jr. and teammate Helio Castroneves posted the fastest speeds, respectively in qualifying for race #10 in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series 17-event season.

Castroneves had been quick in practice but it was Hornish who posted the best qualifying speed of 170.296mph as the 18th driver to take timed laps. In earning his third Marlboro pole of the 2005 season the Ohioan noted, "The track changed from this morning; it got much warmer and we developed a bit more push in the car. We put in a little more front wing to deal with the conditions," Hornish explained.

"My car has been pretty consistent and it gets quicker as the fuel level goes down. With the wind up the straight I couldn't really go flat in turns 1 and 2, but I was hitting 180 (mph) into three. I had a bit more push than I'd like," said the 2001-2 IRL champion.

Castroneves was the final guy in the qualifying line but was unable to convert, reconciled to second with his speed of 170.219mph. "This track changes from corner to corner and from lap to lap," the Brazilian stated. "It's supposed to be very hot on Sunday but we're all expecting that. My car pushed a lot in turns 3 and 4 and I was very surprised by that. On the second lap (when he was slower) it pushed even more!"

Tomas Scheckter settled for third on the grid at 169.000mph and believes he could have been even quicker had he not lifted on his second lap, losing half a second in the process. "I screwed myself on that run" by not realizing he had another lap to go. "We had such a great car and I just threw it away. But at least we're still starting very close to the front and I'll be able to make up for it early in the race," he declared.

The second driver to take timed laps, point leader Dan Wheldon holds fourth (168.553mph) on what will be a 21-car grid after rookie Ryan Briscoe crashed heavily in practice this morning. Wheldon admitted to "having a bit of difficulty here. We're very close to being flat but not quite. There are faster cars from a handling standpoint and I got quite loose on my first lap in turns 3 and 4. The track is a lot better than Friday so it's a shame."

Despite not driving on a mile oval in quite a while, Buddy Lazier starts fifth after turning his second lap at 168.514mph, giving Panther Racing two cars in the top five. The veteran thought the track changed significantly from morning practice to qualifying and "caught us out. The balance changed big-time and, while I've got a very fast car, I've got a bit of catching up to do to the competition," Lazier explained.

Rookie Danica Patrick holds sixth on the grid and was pleased with her lap of 167.328mph. "Overall it was a decent run," Patrick shrugged. "The track seemed to slow this afternoon so some speeds were off from this morning. The most important thing is that this car can hold on for 225 laps on Sunday. That is the key for us," she declared.

Alex Barron has an affinity for The Milwaukee Mile and it shows with his seventh place qualifying lap of 166.844mph. "Our setup is pretty good and we've been able to transfer some of the things we learned at Richmond to this track, despite the differences between them. I think we've got a pretty good race setup for tomorrow, too."

Last year's winner Dario Franchitti holds eighth grid slot based on his second lap of 166.620mph. The Scot thought his "balance was off in qualifying and we were slow. If the balance were off and we were fast I wouldn't mind," he joked.

2004 IRL champ Tony Kanaan was disappointed to take ninth on the grid at 165.578mph while Roger Yasukawa, on the other hand was jazzed to be starting tenth after lapping the Mile at 165.334mph. "We carried out speed from this morning and I'm really happy with the car. We made some changes from the first to second practice sessions and were able to carry more speed in turns 3 and 4. But then," he acknowledged, "we lost some in turns 1 and 2, plus it's a lot warmer today."

Vitor Meira was disappointed to qualify 11th this afternoon, but his car was "touching a sliding too much in qualifying. We went a bit overboard on the changes we made but we did it to have a shot," Meira explained. Bryan Herta starts 12th in the fourth Andretti Green Racing team car.

Scott Sharp was the first driver to take timed laps and starts 13th after being unable to test some late changes in practice, while Patrick Carpentier went out to the end of the line and starts 14th. The French Canadian thinks his team is getting "stronger and stronger but I was pushing too much this afternoon." Despite his starting spot, Carpentier admits he is "very happy."

2004 Indy 500 champ Buddy Rice "didn't have a decent car for the track this afternoon" and starts 15th. "It was a handful out there for me." Ed Carpenter was pleased with his 16th place qualifying position and believes "we're getting better every time we're on the track."

Jimmy Kite thought his qualifying run to 17th was "not bad. "We're getting better every day. [Engineer] Mike Colliver has never engineered a Dallara, Hemelgarn hasn't been part of this series for a couple of years and I haven't been here in ages," he explained.

Coming into this race with a conservative outlook after crashing twice here last year, Scott Dixon is the best of the Ganassi bunch in 18th and thinks his "car has been good. We had way too much understeer and I had to shift down to fourth" on his qualifying laps. "We missed a bit on that."

A.J. Foyt IV starts 19th and Kosuke Matsuura has 20th grid spot. Darren Manning never made a qualifying attempt when his car was too loose on his warmup laps and Briscoe crashed in morning practice, giving the two Ganassi drivers possession of the final row. Looking to "do what's best for the driver," the team will hold rookie Briscoe out of Sunday's race so that he can be ready for next weekend's event at Michigan International Speedway.

The ABC Supply Co/AJ Foyt 225 is set to take the green flags at 1:45PM CDT Sunday afternoon. Forecasters are predicting hot, sticky weather with temps above the century mark.

Pole man Hornish believes the key to staying at the front tomorrow afternoon will entail "being cautious because lapped traffic probably isn't handling great. I think we'll try to take minimal chances."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , A.J. Foyt IV , Jimmy Kite , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Kosuke Matsuura , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske