PHOENIX, Saturday, March 16, 2002 - It came as little surprise that a Marlboro Team Penske driver won the MBNA Pole on March 16 for the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200. But it was a surprise that Helio Castroneves put Penske on the pole, ...
PHOENIX, Saturday, March 16, 2002 - It came as little surprise that a Marlboro Team Penske driver won the MBNA Pole on March 16 for the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200.
But it was a surprise that Helio Castroneves put Penske on the pole, not teammate Gil de Ferran.
2001 Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves earned his first career MBNA Pole at Phoenix International Raceway with a fast lap of 20.0124 seconds, 179.888 mph in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Indy Racing League points leader Sam Hornish Jr. will start alongside Castroneves on the front row after a top lap of 20.0295, 179.735 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
"We worked very hard to achieve that," Castroneves said. "I do believe that was as fast as I could go. The car felt very good, very strong. Hopefully for the race, we can keep the same speed."
Said Hornish: "I had to lift just a little bit going down into Turn 1, and right after I did that, I said to myself, 'I can't believe I just did that.' I probably could have been down in the 19s, but it's just one of those things"
de Ferran, Castroneves' teammate, led both pre-qualifying practices for this event but only managed to earn the seventh starting spot at 20.2621, 177.672 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
"I'm not exactly sure what happened this afternoon," de Ferran said. "The Marlboro car was good today, we just didn't have the speed we had in the earlier session. We'll have to go back and look closely at the data to see if we can find something. Tomorrow is a new day."
The Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 starts at 4 p.m. (EST) Sunday and will be televised live on ABC. Final practice starts at noon (EST) on the 1-mile oval at PIR.
Jeff Ward qualified third at 20.1566, 178.602 in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone. 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone was fourth at 20.2153, 178.083 in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone.
Rookie Tomas Scheckter rounded out the top five at 20.2280, 177.971 in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Veteran Tyce Carlson and PDM Racing will not start the race. Carlson crashed in the No. 18 Immke Auto Group Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone during morning practice. Carlson was unhurt, but the rear of the car suffered heavy damage.