Infineon: Castroneves wins IndyCar pole, Penske 1-2
KV Racing's Will Power will lineup 3rd ahead of Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon and Oriol Servia.
It was the third straight road course Team Penske 1-2 qualifying result, which is quite an accomplishment given the fact they lost their two primary cars in a fire earlier this week.
“The guys did an incredible job moving past the fire, turning the page and moving forward," said Castroneves.
"If there is a team that can rebound, it’s Team Penske. They proved it today. We’re happy with every accomplishment that we’ve made this weekend. Starting on the front row is big for us. We’re going to continue working hard tomorrow and hopefully have a good finish.”
Castroneves won his 26th career PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award with a best lap of 1 minute, 16.9027 seconds, 107.809 mph on the 12-turn, 2.30 mile circuit. Briscoe was second just 0.0158 of a second behind.
“It’s been pretty clear we have really fast cars on the road courses," said Briscoe.
"I think apart from St. Petersburg, we’ve had the front row every time. It’s been really good. Also, between Helio (Castroneves) and myself, we really push each other a lot, too. And that’s a big bonus, having two really fast cars on these tracks. We compare the data after every session, and I’ll pick up a bit where he’s strong and he’ll pick up a bit where I’m strong, and we just try to put it all together, so I think that really helps too. It’s great to have Team Penske sweep the front row again.”
KV Racing's Will Power and Oriol Servia have been knocking on the door all year but have not been able to quite nap the pole position over the top-3 Indy Car teams.
"We are getting closer every race," said Servia. "What we are missing is experience. We go the wrong way on setup many times because we do not have the experience with these cars like the IRL regulars do. That happened today and I went backwards in the final fast-six session when we went with the wrong tire pressures..
These 12 advanced to the 2nd round of qualifying to determine who would shoot it out in the fast-6. They were:
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified first): “The guys did an incredible job moving past the fire, turning the page and moving forward. If there is a team that can rebound, it’s Team Penske. They proved it today. We’re happy with every accomplishment that we’ve made this weekend. Starting on the front row is big for us. We’re going to continue working hard tomorrow and hopefully have a good finish.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, second): “It’s been pretty clear we have really fast cars on the road courses. I think apart from St. Petersburg, we’ve had the front row every time. It’s been really good. Also, between Helio (Castroneves) and myself, we really push each other a lot, too. And that’s a big bonus, having two really fast cars on these tracks. We compare the data after every session, and I’ll pick up a bit where he’s strong and he’ll pick up a bit where I’m strong, and we just try to put it all together, so I think that really helps too. It’s great to have Team Penske sweep the front row again.”
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, third): “It’s good. We carried it through. We’ve sort of been there all weekend in the top three. We’re happy about that. I think I could have done a better job in that last run, but it does feel good. They’re very long races. We know it’s a lot about strategy. A lot of yellows fall in this race. We’re just happy we’ve got two cars up there. We’re doing well.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, fourth): “We were one change behind in (the Firestone Fast Six). We tried everything, and as a team we’ve come a long way. We’ve been struggling on the road courses, so I’m glad to see we’re in the top four. (At Infineon) you don’t want to start worse than the second row.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fifth): “I think we’re probably disappointed with our qualifying. The car was fairly decent, and then on that last qualifying run, we tried to lower the car a lot to see if we were just missing, and every time I tried to touch the brakes I was locking them up. And we couldn’t even get within eight-tenths (of a second) of our last run. It was worth a try. I think we would have only been one spot better – maybe in fourth. We just didn’t have enough for what those two Penske cars had. We always seem to race a little bit better, and we’re definitely happy with where we’re at. We just have to make sure we can follow up with some points tomorrow.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, sixth): “We had a great first two sessions, and I was really happy with the car. But at the end, we made a mistake with the pressures and the car was sliding all over, plus the track got hotter and I just couldn't stay close. I think we had a chance to put in a good lap at the end, at least to beat Scott (Dixon), but I waited a little too long to get a gap and I didn't get to make a run. Just a terrible session. But I'm happy that the car was good in the first two sessions and we're in good position for the race.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team, seventh): “I’m disappointed that we didn’t make the Firestone Fast Six for the first time this season. I thought we had the potential. The McDonald’s car was quick but just a little difficult to drive. It was right on the edge all the way around, so we couldn’t quite put a lap together. I think we have the performance to gain some spots, but I don’t think this track lends itself to overtaking. We’ll just have to have a smart race, stay out of trouble and keep picking them off one at a time. Maybe we can overtake, but it’s only if somebody makes a mistake. We’ve seen a lot of people go off around here. It’s a tough track. The better your car is the more fuel you can save and the more chance you have of passing people in the pit s. We just need to make sure the car is good tomorrow morning in the warm-up.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, eighth): “We’re not where we want to be, because I think anything other than being in the Firestone Fast Six is a disappointment, but the guys did a great job on the car and I think we can race from here tomorrow. The engineering staff turned a 14th-place car into an eighth-place one overnight, and we had something for the rest of the field until we got to the slow-speed sections of the track. We were as fast as anyone in the first half of the lap, and I think we could have caused some trouble. But we just didn’t have the whole package today. We’ll work on it some more and get it tomorrow.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, ninth): “It was great that the Motorola car was able to make it into the fast 12. I can’t believe how close the times were. Of course I wish that we would have been able to make it into the Firestone Fast Six, but we are headed in the right direction. Hopefully we can keep the car up front and out of trouble throughout the race.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Blockbuster/Star Wars: The Clone Wars, 10th): “I had my hands full in qualifying today. The car was on the edge of grip at both ends. We made one little change and we completely tipped the car over from understeer to oversteer. It wasn't our best effort today, and we would be happier if we were starting a bit higher on the grid. The Blockbuster/STAR WARS: THE CLONE YEARS race car is very good, though, so we're confident heading into tomorrow.”
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