Castroneves nips Briscoe for M-O IndyCar pole
Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Team Penske car, topped the Firestone Fast Six session with a lap of 1 minute, 07.2480 seconds (120.878) on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"The only one I was really worried about was Gil de Ferran," Castroneves joked. "He won the pole position for ALMS, so if I didn't win the pole for the IndyCar Series I knew he would give me a hard time. In all seriousness, it was a great battle between Ryan and I," said Castroneves who also won the pole at the 2007 event. "This morning, we were talking about what a great chance we had to start on the front row with both cars, and we did it. It was a tough battle. Team Penske did a great job, and I'm extremely happy to part of this organization."
Marco Andretti and Justin Wilson will share Row 2 and Tony Kanaan and IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon will be on Row 3.
Buddy Rice had the quickest lap of the qualifying in Round 1 (1:07.4874; 120.449 mph in Group 2) and will start seventh - his third consecutive top 10 in the No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car.
Danica Patrick, who started on the front row last year in the No. 7 Motorola car when she had a weight advantage, but this year that was mostly taken away by a rules change to equalize weights and, hence, did not get past the first round. She'll start 20th.
It will be the 175th time a Penske open-wheel car will start first in a race and the 27th pole in Castroneves’ IndyCar career. It’s also his second in a row - he won the pole the previous week at Nashville Superspeedway.
Castroneves may have secured the No. 1 starting position, but Briscoe gave him a run for it. The No. 6 Team Penske Honda/Dallara recorded a lap of 1:07.2657, good enough to start on the front row next to Castroneves.
“It was hard-fought, as usual," said Briscoe. "You have to hang it out there. I thought we had a really good day - the car was handling well and it was so close. You can definitely see our Team Penske cars are very strong here."
The Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio will air live on Sunday, July 20, at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC and will be broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified first): “It feels great. The only one I was really worried about was Gil de Ferran (laughing). He won the pole position for ALMS, so if I didn't win the pole for the IndyCar Series, I knew he would give me a hard time. In all seriousness, it was a great battle between Ryan (Briscoe) and me. This morning we were talking about what a great chance we had to start on the front row with both cars, and we did it. It was a tough battle. Team Penske did a great job, and I'm extremely happy to part of this organization.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, second): “It was good. It was hard-fought as usual. You have to work so hard to get into the (Firestone) Fast Six, and then you have to hang it out there. I thought we had a really good day. The car was handling well. We just weren’t quite quick enough, but it was so close, and you can definitely see our Team Penske cars are very strong here.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Blockbuster, third): “It was the toughest couple of runs of my life physically. The steering was so heavy. I will definitely need a bit of rest before the race tomorrow. I gave it everything I had, and well that is all we had.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team, fourth): “I’m really pleased. This morning, I was asking what the deal is if we don’t make the top 12. It was a little tricky to drive so I couldn’t get it all out. I thought I might be able to sneak up a little bit closer, but at the end of the day I’m pretty happy with where we are.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, fifth): “We had a lot of understeer in the car. We tried to improve, but obviously we didn’t. We had a problem with the throttle cable. One of the wires came loose, and my idle was at 6,000 rpm. That doesn’t make it easy to stop the car in the hard braking zones. We managed to put a lap together, and I’m pretty pleased. Despite the circumstances we made it to the Firestone Fast Six again, and we’ll see what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, seventh): “You’re pushing, it’s hard, it’s a narrow line. What I’m personally disappointed with is myself. I ran a (1:07.4) in that previous session. There’s no reason I shouldn’t have been able to back that up, and I didn’t. We should have been in the Firestone Fast Six. The Dreyer and Reinbold team did a great job. I’m happy with everything. I’m just disappointed we didn’t put the Roll Coater Honda in the Firestone Fast Six.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, eighth): “When you miss making the Firestone Fast Six Shootout by so little, it is a little disappointing, but I am really happy with the KV Racing Technology team and the improvement we made. It shows a lot. Obviously, you want to come to a track and be fastest right away, but I think it shows that we can learn and are a capable team. We were 20th yesterday, and today we almost made it into the top six. I am just very happy with the team, the improvement we made and the performance we had today.”
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