IRL: Watkins Glen: Qualifying report

CASTRONEVES WINS POLE AT THE GLEN; CUNNINGHAM TAKES FIRST CORNING TWIN 100 WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Saturday, July 7, 2007 -- Team Penske's Helio Castroneves knows his way around Watkins Glen International. Castroneves will start from the pole for...


WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Saturday, July 7, 2007 -- Team Penske's Helio Castroneves knows his way around Watkins Glen International.

Castroneves will start from the pole for the third consecutive year on the 3.37-mile, 11-turn course after winning the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award for the Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix.

By virtue of posting the quickest lap in the 10-minute "Firestone Fast Six" rally session -- a track-record 1 minute, 29.1919 seconds (136.021 mph), Castroneves earned his fifth pole position of the year, one short of Billy Boat's 1998 record for most poles in a season.

Two-time defending race winner Scott Dixon (1:29.5686; 135.449 mph) will join Castroneves on the front row, while IndyCar Series points leader Dario Franchitti (1:29.6764; 135.286) and Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan (1:29.7843; 135.124) will share Row 2. Sam Hornish Jr. (1:29.9676) and Marco Andretti (1:30.1379) will comprise the third row.

Every driver in the Firestone Fast Six improved their time from single-car qualifying with Franchitti improving from sixth to third.

* This is Helio Castroneves' fifth AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award this season and the 21st pole position of his IndyCar Series career, extending his series record for career poles.
* Castroneves has won the pole for both road/street course events this season and started first in each IndyCar Series race at Watkins Glen International
* Scott Dixon qualified second, his third front-row start of the season. It is his best start at Watkins Glen.
* All six drivers in the Firestone Fast Six improved their times in the 10-minute shootout and bettered Helio Castroneves' 2005 track record.
* Two drivers improved their position. Helio Castroneves went from second to first. Dario Franchitti went from sixth to third.


HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award winner): "I was so fast in my new tires at the end. It was just fast. Another weekend, another good car. It was a great effort by Team Penske and I'm extremely happy. People don't realize this type of qualifying is like a race. We're going to celebrate today and focus on tomorrow's race."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "We did a good job on the Target side. We definitely had the laps to do it, we just couldn't piece them together. Then my last lap, I was up four-tenths, which would have put us happily ahead, but I was getting a bit sketchy at the end trying to push it a little bit harder to make sure we could get the pole. We came up a little short. More my fault than the guys. I just need to piece it together next time." (About hitting the bird late in the session) "I think they were trying to feed on something out there and they tried to get out of the way, but it just sucked them in. Next lap I could definitely see the scatter of feathers and knew I hit them. I didn't feel it initially, but there's definitely a lot of feathers out there in the bus stop (Inner Loop)."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "Tony (Kanaan) and I ran the same setup today, and I think we got all we could out of the Canadian Club car. We'll have to sit down tonight and see what we can do to make the car better for tomorrow. I really enjoy running at The Glen. Hopefully I can run better tomorrow than we have in the past."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "I love the single-lap qualifying where you try to get the most out of the car. For the fast six shootout, we put enough fuel in the NYSE car to run the entire 10 minutes. But, I think with the tire warmers and the heavy fuel load, we just took the edge off the tires on the first lap, and we were too heavy to go fast. Overall, I'm happy with where we are. I had some bad luck in the first practice session and got stuck in the second group, so to come from there to qualify sixth, I'll take it."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I'm reasonably happy. It's a long way around this place and you have to really be perfect all the way around to be on the pole, and we were not quite there. But, we made some improvements to the Team 7-Eleven car. It wasn't enough, but I think I found something. I'm just proud of the whole team. To have three in the top six is a big accomplishment, so I'm very pleased."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "The Team Penske car has been really good all weekend, and today was no different. Fortunately, we were third quick during the first qualifying session and made it into the Firestone Fast Six. While we like being part of these, we seem to always move backwards. We just made a fuel calculation error during our first run that prevented us from making it back to the pits. If we stayed out on the track and brought out the caution, we would have automatically been placed in sixth. So, instead, we just decided to pull off the track and take our chances that we would end up a little better than that. We ended up fifth, which is one of my best starting positions on a road course, so we're pretty pleased. We'll now turn our attention to tomorrow and hope for the best in the race."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "Seventh place is OK. It would have been nice if we just had a few more tenths. We should have been in the shootout, but we just missed it. We've got another good solid car here. Our car is a lot better in race trim. We worked really hard on that, knowing that we do not have all of the bits to compete for the pole. That's why we wanted to be in the shootout to give it a stab or two to try to better the time. It's a bit disappointing. We just missed it by about a tenth. But I know my car is going to run consistent because I did times this morning probably fast enough to be in the top-six on mileaged out tires. We've got a good starting spot right now, no matter if we are in the shoot-out or not."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "I think the track got a lot worse from the morning practice session. We lost a lot of grip and picked up a big push almost everywhere on the track. I'm happy overall, but we always feel like there is something we can improve upon in the Delphi car. Our goal was to start in the top six today and we almost did that. I like this track a lot, and I started eighth last year and we almost won. I just hope we can have one of those days where everything comes together and we can win the race."

DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "The car package is pretty good. We lost most of the first session yesterday because of how we came here with the car--we changed it back to our standard set-up. So i'm comfortable with it now. I made a little mistake on my qualifying lap which cost us a half a second. It didn't make a big difference in the overall grid but it's disappointing. But we can still have a good race and i'm looking forward to racing at the Glen."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 12th): "It was OK. You try to push for the time that you think you need but you really never know until you are done. We had a little understeer in the car but we are making it better. I think we made some good changes in the car that will enable us to make it better tomorrow.

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Patron Sharp Rahal Letterman Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 14th): "I thought we'd run a little faster, but the car was a little tight during the run. We made some changes overnight that made the car better but we weren't able to duplicate that in qualifying. We'll just go back, look at the data and work on making the car better for tomorrow.

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 15th): "It's pretty obvious that things didn't go well, so I'm very disappointed. But, what are you going to do? There were just a lot of places where we lost too much time and we've got a lot of work to do to figure it out."


The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on July 8 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be televised live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Corning Twin 100 doubleheader on July 7-8 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be televised by ESPN2 on July 12.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Billy Boat , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing