IRL: Pikes Peak: Saturday qualifying report

CASTRONEVES LEADS MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE FRONT-ROW SWEEP FOUNTAIN, Colo. (Saturday, Aug. 20, 2005) -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves captured his first pole position of the 2005 season, leading a front-row sweep for Marlboro...


FOUNTAIN, Colo. (Saturday, Aug. 20, 2005) -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves captured his first pole position of the 2005 season, leading a front-row sweep for Marlboro Team Penske in qualifying for the Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Castroneves lapped the 1-mile oval in 20.5218 seconds, 175.423 mph to record his 10th career IRL IndyCar® Series pole position.

Castroneves' teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., qualified second with a time of 20.5241 seconds, 175.404 mph to give Marlboro Team Penske its third front-row sweep of the season. The team also swept the front row at Richmond (0.75-mile oval) and Milwaukee (1-mile oval).

Andretti Green Racing teammates Bryan Herta and Dario Franchitti will start from the second row. Franchitti is the reigning race winner at Pikes Peak.

Danica Patrick, who leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings, will start fifth with reigning IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan starting sixth.


HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, qualified first): "Milwaukee, Sam (Hornish Jr.) did the same thing, not even a thousandth of a second. Today was pretty close. I'm very happy that Marlboro Team Penske is on the front row. Now it's my turn to be on the front. I'm extremely, extremely happy. We've been working a lot on the race car, and it definitely paid off in the qualifying. We've been working extremely hard on the short ovals. A handling car is much better. Hopefully, we can get consistent cars and both of us will be here (in the winner's interview room) tomorrow. Some of the tracks, you're just along for the ride. I guess at the short ovals we've been working extremely hard. We try everything we can. I'm very happy to see both cars sitting on the front row. It feels awesome. I have to pay a compliment to my engineers. We keep trying different gears. Today it paid off. Definitely it was the right choice this time. It was a calculated guess."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, qualified second): (Did going out in the heavy winds at the end of practice help you set up your car for qualifying?) "Yeah, but we obviously didn't learn enough. We went out there and ran. We knew what we needed to do. And then the wind died down. And then it picked back up as soon as qualifying started. We had already gone through the tech line, so we were off on our gear. Obviously we can't go back and do it again. So now we'll go do it and try to beat them tomorrow. The engineering staff at Marlboro Team Penske, along with what we believe are two very good drivers. We feel like we know what needs to be done on these handling tracks, where you really have to have the car set up well. It's a shame that we haven't had one-two finishes every time this year because I think we've both had cars that could do that. We're going to come here tomorrow. We're both very excited about what we're able to do. We know that we've got to go out and make it to the end of this race. If we do everything right, obviously we'll be in victory lane."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "It was a good run for the XM Satellite Radio team. I got a good lap in on the first one so I knew I could take a chance on the second one, but I tried to shorten my line up between turns one and two and the car took off up the track, and I couldn't hold it. It's tough to get the balance right, but my crew did a great job."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "The ArcaEx car was setup a little better than it was this morning when we struggled a little bit, particularly in the second practice session. So it was nice that the car felt pretty good in qualifying. We were slightly short in our gear ratio, and that might have hurt us a little but it was certainly better than this morning. Pikes Peak is one of those tracks where it doesn't matter where you qualify; if you have a fast car you'll go to the front. If your car goes off you go straight to the back. It's more important for us to have a good race car tomorrow."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "The Argent/Pioneer Honda felt really good in qualifying. The car was solid throughout the two laps. We weren't perfect on the gears, but we just used the information that we had and the car was strong. We never know with the wind conditions and the cooler track if you make the right changes. But it was good and we'll get ready for the race. The wind did kick up when I went out for qualifying, and sometimes we get lucky in the conditions and sometimes not. But overall I don't think the wind was a huge factor for qualifying. Now in the race Sunday, the wind could pose some problems. I don't know how much the car will change with the wind in race settings. We will check on that on the morning warmup. I do feel we have a great balance with the car. So I am confident for the race. That is the most important thing for us right now. It has been proven many times that you can win from many positions on the grid. I'm pleased with the direction of the Panoz chassis right now. We have had a few new parts coming into this race and they seem to be a big help right now."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "We got loose and the traction control came on and that really slowed us down. I wasn't expecting the Team 7-Eleven car to be that loose and, unfortunately, that's what happened. I should have loosened up the traction control because it was definitely a quick lap. I don't think it was a pole position lap, but it was going to be fast. It doesn't seem to be a problem for us to pass five or six cars at the start of the race. It just makes things more exciting."

TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 Rockstar Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified seventh): "It was a good run. We have been steadily improving each time we've gone out today. It's been a step-by-step approach for us all day. We knew we would get there, but this is not an easy track, especially for me since it's my first time here. The wind has picked up a lot, but it's the same for everybody out there. I do like the short ovals. We ran into the limiter a little and that cost us some speed. I am confident that we will run well tomorrow in the RockStar Chevy and finish strong in the front."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified eighth): "Yeah, for sure, we're happy with our run. I did everything I could with our Pennzoil Chevy. We ran out of gears a bit, and I even ran the shortest line possible. We knew a bit before we ran that we would be a little short on gears based on what our teammate ran, but still, it's a good run for us and puts us solidly in the top 10. There are lots of cars going very quickly this weekend so we're right up there." (About the sudden changes in weather) "The weather today was unbelievable. If you've ever seen the movie Day After Tomorrow, that's what the weather around here seems like."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Menards Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "We had to go out second and that is a little bit of a question mark since the weather changed so much. You never know what will happen with the cool temperatures and the wind. But I was flat on the throttle. It felt pretty good. We have to see how we end up. But we did some race setups this morning, and the car seems very good for the race. Rahal Letterman Racing had enough data coming into qualifying that we were not too surprised by the conditions. I got some information from Buddy (Rice) after the last practice when the wind was really strong. The wind changed directions and that was little unusual. But overall we had a strong run. Of course, we would obviously like to be faster. The hardest thing for us was being proactive and making the proper changes for these conditions. Now we will have to do that same thing for the race. And the race will be much different."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone, qualified 10th): "It was a good performance for the Delphi Fernandez team. We hoped we would sneak another half-a-tenth [of a second] to a tenth out of it for qualifying, but it was our quickest time of the day. Some guys slowed down in their runs in qualifying and some went faster. We just wish we could have gotten a little more speed out of it, but I think once you get 30 or 40 laps into this race it is not going to matter if you were one or two spots ahead or back in qualifying. I feel pretty good about tomorrow. We did a really good job today with what was presented to us - the track conditions with the wind and the temperature. We made use of the time as best we could to work on the race setup and have to hope that puts us in a good position for tomorrow. You never know what variables will come down the pike tomorrow, but as we sit right now, if you were to line us all up, I think we have one of the fastest race cars."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 11th): "It was a good effort from everybody with the Klein Tools/Jim Beam team, but it's always a shame when you come up a little bit short. This will be a very, very competitive race, and I expect some of the regular protagonists to be up front. Pikes Peak is always a difficult track to get a handle on when weather conditions change like they do, and it makes it tricky for the engineers, so they've got their work cut out for them."


The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues Aug. 21 with the Honda Indy 225 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) at Pikes Peak International Raceway. The race will be broadcast by ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast also will be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Pikes Peak 100 on Aug. 21 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 25.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske