IRL: Watkins Glen: Saturday qualifying report

CASTRONEVES EARNS POLE AT THE GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005 -- Helio Castroneves claimed his second Marlboro Pole Award of the season and the 11th of his career, winning the pole position for the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix...


WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005 -- Helio Castroneves claimed his second Marlboro Pole Award of the season and the 11th of his career, winning the pole position for the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage at Watkins Glen International.

The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, who was second-fastest in single-lap qualifying on the 3.37-mile, 11-turn road course with a lap of 132.625 mph (1 minute, 31.4757 seconds), improved his speed (133.806) during the 10-minute Firestone Fast Six session to win his first IndyCar Series pole position on a road course.

All six drivers in Firestone Fast Six qualifying, Castroneves, Giorgio Pantano, Patrick Carpentier, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti, improved their time as all six positions changed. Pantano and Carpentier improved from fifth and sixth, respectively, to second and third respectively. Dixon, who was fastest in the single-car session, fell to fourth.



HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, Marlboro Pole Award winner): "When you go for the single lap qualifying, you want to be sure you put it in the top six. I was taking it easy, to make sure we were in the top six. But when you get to the top six, man, you're going for it. You're not messing around. When I got my pole lap, the track was getting better, and I was sure one of those guys was going to beat me. When I heard (Giorgio) Pantano was on the course for one last run, I was hoping he ate a lot of macaroni today. We worked really hard, and we got what we wanted today."

GIORGIO PANTANO (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, qualified second): "We knew we had quite a good car on the long runs. Our goal was to be in the top six for the ten-minute qualifying, and we did that. We're starting second. The important thing is to start on the front row. We did the job, and now tomorrow is the hard race. We have a very good car."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone, qualified third): "I went out there and wasn't nervous at all. We had nothing to lose coming in. We were happy with sixth, so we just went for it. We knew our car was better in the long run, so it was a really fun ride. I have never done a lap like that in my life. For us, it was by far the fastest time we've accomplished here by more than a second and a half. During my top lap, I missed the apex of the last turn by about 10 feet, so I left a little bit out there. Other than that, I got everything I could out of the car. The team and Toyota did a great job giving me a great car for this weekend. Starting in the top three is fantastic. The race is going to be very competitive, but when you're starting up front, it's a whole different game. I'm definitely looking forward to it."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, qualified fourth): "It was alright. Just from the get-go, we decided to do one long run with the car. We didn't really think we could make any time up after the tires had one (heat) cycle in them. We weren't as good as we'd have liked. We had a lot of understeer and the more I pushed on it, to try and get more time, the more I was waiting for the front end to hook up. I think it's pretty good for the race. Nobody has done any really long runs, so we should be all right. It was a good day for the team with two in the top four, which is nice for a change. The car seems strong. The cars for the first six or seven laps seemed to get quicker and quicker. Hopefully we'll have a consistent car."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "For the shootout, we chose to do something to try to get the pole. Instead of moving forward, we moved backwards. But, that is the way it is. But, I'm happy. I told the Team 7-Eleven guys that we're the only car on the team to make it into all three shootouts this year, so we tried to have some fun today. We do have a good car for the race, so we'll see what happens."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "We had a tough session there with the ArcaEx car. We didn't get the balance right. We tried some changes to get the balance back to what we had it this morning, but we just didn't get it. I think the other guys in front of us just did a better job. It's unfortunate. I had a couple of good laps going, but I just couldn't get through those last two corners and that was it."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "I think we left a little bit on the table on that qualifying run. It is a little disappointing since I thought we could make the top six. Starting seventh isn't too bad but passing will be at a premium in the race. The car felt good but the weather keeps changing and the track surface was getting hotter. The car had a push (understeer) that hurt us. I made a slight mistake and that probably cost me two or three tenths of s second. I know there was more in the car so I was hoping to get into the top six and then really go for it in the final ten-minute qualifying run. I think I pushed a little too much in qualifying and that can be costly. I really like Watkins Glen. It is so familiar to the tracks I raced in Europe. Those are the kinds of tracks I grew up, and it is very fun to drive. I know that Emerson (Fittipaldi) won his first F-1 race here (in 1972) and I would really like to win my first IRL race here on Sunday."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "Our run wasn't bad, but there were a lot of fast guys that I knew didn't have a shot at the fastest time. We had a shot for the top six. We had a better car at Sonoma but this week Vitor (Meira) has a little better. But we will start alongside each other in the fourth row. That isn't bad, but I would have liked to be further up front on the grid. We matched our time from the morning. The track was nearly 25 degrees warmer in qualifying than the morning. So it was a pretty run for our crew too. They made some good adjustments. It is a lot faster here with the Indy car than the other cars I have driven here before. But it feels great to come and run a big open-wheeler at Watkins Glen. This place has so much history. To win the race on Sunday will take a lot of strategy whether it is with fuel, pit stops or other elements like rain. We had a good run at Sonoma and hopefully we can have another here on Sunday."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): (About his accident in practice this morning): "I just lost it. I got a left front tire on the grass and spun." (About his qualifying lap): "It wasn't great. We didn't get the best out of the car. I don't know, what are you going to do? I think we have a good enough car to get to the front in the race. That's what we'll be working towards. Putting it up against the tires in practice didn't help the car."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified 10th): "The Pennzoil Chevy was quite good -- I just didn't get enough out of it. These road courses are a bit frustrating. We know there's still a bit more in the car. We'll just have to have a look and see what we can find. We'll make a few changes still to try and go quicker. There's a couple of things we can do I'm sure for more traction. The problem is, we're still not experienced enough yet to know exactly what changes we have to make to go faster whereas it seems everyone else knows exactly what to change. We'll just get together with the crew and try to find something for the race."


The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix Presented by Argent Mortgage at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 25 at Watkins Glen International. 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 Corning 100 on Sept. 25 at Watkins Glen International. It will be telecast by ESPN2 at 3 p.m. on Sept. 29.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Giorgio Pantano , Helio Castroneves , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing