De Ferran and Chevy repeat pole-winning performance in Richmond. RICHMOND, Va., June 28, 2002 -- Penske Racing teammates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves proved to be quick learners in qualifying for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge...
De Ferran and Chevy repeat pole-winning performance in Richmond.
RICHMOND, Va., June 28, 2002 -- Penske Racing teammates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves proved to be quick learners in qualifying for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway. The pair swept the front row in their matching Chevrolet-powered Dallaras in their first competitive appearance on the difficult 3/4-mile oval. De Ferran blew away the year-old track record by more than 8 mph, winning the pole with a 168.705 mph lap. It was de Ferran's second straight pole and his third of the season.
"That's what it's all about," said de Ferran. "You have to hang it all out. I was confident, but you never really know until you go for it."
It was a Penske and Chevrolet show in qualifying for tomorrow's 250-lap race. Castroneves claimed the outside front row starting spot at 168.013 mph as Chevy Indy V8 engines took nine of the top 10 starting positions. Sam Hornish Jr. was the third fastest qualifier at 165.207 mph, nearly 3 mph behind the Penske pair.
"We have a fantastic car," de Ferran declared. "My car is really handling well, with good traction off both turns. I knew I had to pull something out of the hat."
Gil's Chevy Indy V8 was hitting the rev limiter hard on the short front straight, but that didn't slow his progress.
"It wasn't on purpose," he revealed. "It's difficult to gauge the wind, but the gear was good to pull off the turns and give me good speed in the straight."
De Ferran and Castroneves reprised their 1-2 qualifying performance from the preceding race at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
"It's more about handling than going flat out at this track," said Castroneves. "It's a very difficult track. It's a challenge for the drivers and the engineers."
Hornish had a close encounter with the concrete wall during practice that damaged his Chevrolet Dallara. The Panther team repaired the bright yellow machine and got it into the qualifying queue.
"I gave the guys a lot more work to do this afternoon and it definitely hurt us," Hornish conceded. "We didn't get to run some of the qualifying setups we wanted to try. If I hadn't screwed up, we probably would have been quicker. We were fighting a loose condition in practice this morning and we had a big push in qualifying."
Defending race winner Buddy Lazier is fifth on the grid, but he was disappointed with his 164.892 mph qualifying speed in Hemelgarn Racing's Chevrolet Dallara.
"We were early in the draw and there was rubber down from other series," Lazier reported. "My car was big time loose. We were pretty good in practice and were hoping to improve on that in qualifying, but that's as hard as I could go."
The SunTrust Indy Challenge will start at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday night, June 29. The 187.5-mile, 250-lap race will be televised live on ESPN and broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network.