IRL: Richmond: Team Penske qualifying report

"The Marlboro Team Penske car has been fantastic since we arrived. It's really handling well and I was very confident in it going out to qualify. Helio put down a super fast lap and I knew it was going to be hard to beat. You go out there and...

"The Marlboro Team Penske car has been fantastic since we arrived. It's really handling well and I was very confident in it going out to qualify. Helio put down a super fast lap and I knew it was going to be hard to beat. You go out there and do your first lap and then on the second lap you basically say what the hell and go for it. Our first lap was good and I was able to pick up the pace on the second and carry more speed. You really have to applaud the Team to see another front row sweep for Marlboro Team Penske it's really quite an accomplishment (this is the Team's third front row start this season -- also swept the front row in Phoenix and Pike's Peak). We've all been working really hard and testing at every track before we arrive for the race weekend and it's beginning to pay off in our results. We've been facing new situations all year and recently we've been fortunate enough to have our testing data work to our advantage. However, tomorrow's race will be another new challenge and we have no idea how these cars will perform at night under the lights. The key to tomorrow's race will be consistency. It will be very difficult to pass so your car needs to work well in traffic. This series is so competitive that in order to win you need everything to go right -- your car has to be set-up for the track conditions, your pits stops need to be fast and smooth and your race strategy has to be correct."

Will you race teammate Helio Castroneves at the start:

"Did you watch the race in Pikes Peak and the one in Phoenix? Where else? Indianapolis last year? We always race each other hard. The only orders we have is not to take each other out. Helio (Castroneves) and I, this is our third year together. We've been going wheel to wheel now several times, on road courses, ovals and superspeedways. Thankfully, touch wood, we haven't got into any trouble. I think it will continue. Otherwise, I am going to have to climb the fence with Helio to the other side and take off."

About traffic at Richmond:

"I think that's just a feature of short-oval racing. It's a fact of life that you're going to be running into traffic all the time. Certainly the shorter the track, the worse the traffic is, and the experience we've had here in practice has shown us that it's going to be hard to pass. Even sometimes when you get a run coming off of Turn 4 or Turn 2, it's really hard to make it all the way by the time you're into the next turn. It's going to be hard, and trying to keep your nose clean is going to be important for a good result. Whoever has a good car in traffic is certainly going to have a big advantage."

-- Gil de Ferran, Two-Time National Champion,
-- #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
-- Qualified on pole, 16.0043 sec., 168.705 mph**
** New track record

"In today's practice sessions, Gil (de Ferran) and I weren't in the same group so we really didn't have a good measure of how fast we could go. I think the track got better during the second practice group and we were in the first group. For qualifying, I just wanted to go for it. We made a small change before qualifying and the car was very good during our run. I was able to improve my speed by more than two miles an hour from what we ran in practice. But I know my teammate so that's why I couldn't celebrate after I qualified because I knew he was going to be very fast. Gil did a good job and it's great for Marlboro Team Penske to start 1-2 tomorrow. This is a handling track that is very tight and very tough. The keys for tomorrow will be a consistent car and patience. You really need to wait for the right moment to make your move."

-- Helio Castroneves, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 Winner
-- #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
-- Qualified second - 168.013 mph (16.2377 sec.)

This is Gil de Ferran's second consecutive pole, his third pole of the 2002 season, his first pole at Richmond International Raceway and his 19th career Indy car pole. De Ferran has won the pole in three of the eight IRL events to date (38%) and leads the Series in pole positions.

De Ferran's qualifying lap of 168.705 mph (16.0043 sec.) broke the track record of 160.417 mph (16.8311 sec.) set by Jacques Lazier last year.

De Ferran's last pole came at the last race at Pikes Peak International Raceway where he went on to lead the most laps (217 out of 225) and win the race.

This is de Ferran's seventh career pole on an oval track; his other oval poles include: Pikes Peak 6/15/02, Nazareth 4/20/02, Germany 9/14/01, Fontana 10/28/00, Homestead 3/25/00 and Japan 4/10/99.

In the four short ovals run to date, Marlboro Team Penske has captured the pole at each event (Castroneves - Phoenix; de Ferran - Richmond, Nazareth and Pikes Peak) including three front row sweeps (Phoenix, Pikes Peak and Richmond) and seven front row starts.

De Ferran holds the World Closed Course Speed Record with a qualifying lap of 241.428 mph at the California Speedway (10/28/00). He set this time on his way to clinching his first CART Championship.

This is Marlboro Team Penske's fourth pole in eight races this season (50%).

This is the 139th pole for Team Penske.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Jaques Lazier 
Teams Team Penske