Detroit: Dixon tops Castroneves for pole
Graham Rahal was the slowest of the top-6 drivers to reach the final Fast-Six shootout.
Dixon recorded a best lap of 1 minute, 12.2861 seconds, 103.090 mph around the 14-turn, 2.07-mile circuit during the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session. That was 0.4788 of a second better than Castroneves’ best lap (1:12.7649, 102.412 mph).
Castroneves won the pole for last year’s race at Belle Isle and finished 14th. Dixon, who has won four races from the pole this season, started third at Belle Isle last year and finished eighth.
For Dixon it was his sixth PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award of the season. He also won the pole at Homestead-Miami, Kansas, Indianapolis, Texas and Kentucky. He also started from the pole based on points at Iowa.
Dixon has won four times from the pole this season – Homestead-Miami, Indianapolis, Texas and Kentucky.
Will Power will start from 12th position in the Detroit Indy Grand Prix after a crash ended the Australian’s qualifying session early at the Belle Isle street circuit in Detroit, Michigan today.
Power set a time of 1min12.9377secs in the first segment of qualifying, the fourth fastest time in that segment overall and the second fastest time in his group.
But after completing just one flying lap, Power crashed the #8 Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia car into the barrier, heavily damaging the left rear corner of the car.
The Aussie Vineyards crew attempted to fix the damage before the next segment of qualifying, but to no avail and Power was given the 12th starting position for tomorrow’s race (the fastest 12 cars progressed to the second segment of qualifying).
Bruno Junqueira showed great potential, as he was fourth fastest in the second qualifying group Saturday afternoon until he spun coming out of turn seven and sent the No. 18 Z-Line Designs car into the wall. You cannot fault Junqueira for not giving his all as he was working on what would have been his fastest lap of the day when he pushed the car just a bit too hard coming out of turn seven.
"It's a tough break for the Z-Line Designs car," said Junqueira. "I pushed the car a little too much coming out of seven. With a little luck and good race strategy we can fight our way up to the front and get a good result."
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone Aug. 31 at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network.
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified first): “We pride ourselves on spending most of our time on strategy as a team. I think we still have that in our pocket, and our position on pit lane definitely helps during the race. Hopefully we can save some fuel and keep that going. There is going to be a lot of people trying different strategies to improve their positions. A lot of the guys and girls, eight to 10 starting spots back, are going to try some pretty crazy things. We'll keep our mind focused on the race and try to go for the win.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): “We have a great car. I knew this was going to be between Scott (Dixon) and me. It will be very close between both of us. On the second round, I decided to predict a little bit what the track might have with the thicker tires, and we made a very small change. But those changes were enough to unfortunately make the car a little bit difficult and loose. We changed and went back out there. That change definitely proved that was bad. When we got to the slower section (Turns) 4, 5 and 6, the car just lost the edge on the tire for it to turn quick. And unfortunately that edge was enough to make the gap between Scott and me. So I really tried. I was pushing as hard as I could, but unfortunately we couldn't put in a better lap. Second is not bad. Actually, it's pretty good. We're going to try to do everything we can to win the race tomorrow.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, third): “I don't how it was easy for (Helio Castroneves) but I always find here you have to push so hard in qualifying. I find this qualifying format really amazing. It really asks a lot from the drivers. If you're not a driver, I don't think you can understand how much we have to push and how many times. Usually in qualifying, you always find some magic from somewhere. Here you have to do it two sets of tires per segment. You're really pushing so hard at the end in the last segment, and you really need to have tires and pressures to be a one-hit wonder. I'm really happy to be able to put it together. Obviously, we didn’t have enough for Scott (Dixon) at all. I don't know how he put that lap together. I'm happy for the team to be third again and showing that we are closer and closer to the big guys.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team, fourth): “It was a pretty stressful day. We didn’t think we were going to make it (into the Firestone Fast Six). We were very quick and things were going well, but we were never got to do a full timed lap in the first session, so there was a risk of not making it (to the second round), but one quick lap at the end got us into the next 12. Then we were third in the next session, and I wasn’t happy with my lap in the final six, but I suppose we’ll make the most of it and hopefully finish on the podium with my teammate.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, fifth): “It was the usual, extremely competitive qualifying session. It's a little disappointing. I haven't been 100 percent happy with the balance around here yet. We keep working on it, and we definitely made some gains. Being in the top six again is great. It was a good effort from Team Penske and certainly put us in a good position for the race.” (About being only driver to be in Firestone Fast Six for every race this season) “We have been performing extremely well in all of the road courses wherever we go this year. It really shows the consistency of the competitiveness.” (About changing track conditions) “The track is rubbering in, so it is getting better, but actually you notice the difference from the start of qualifying to the end of it because it is really warming up in the middle of the day anyway and was getting hotter and hotter heading to the fast six. I think the balance was changing a little bit for me. It is always like that in these qualifying sessions and really keeps you on your toes.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps, sixth): “It was a pretty good run, and the car was really good. At the end of the day, we came up just a little short, but we were happy to be (in the Firestone Fast Six).”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, seventh): “It’s really disappointing. We timed nothing right this session. I had to lift all the time for traffic, and I never got a rhythm going in either session. Both times we had to pull out a time at the end of the run, and it just didn’t work out for us.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, eighth): “This track is so particular that if you make one wrong change, you can lose a full second. The Team 7-Eleven car was close to making it, but I didn’t know what else to do. We made a change and it went the wrong way, and of course we missed the Firestone Fast Six for only the second time. It’s definitely disappointing.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, 10th): “I was really hoping to get the Motorola car into the Firestone Fast Six today, but we lost a little time during the second run. We are just a little off the lead pack, and hopefully we can figure out that small piece that we are missing by the time the race starts tomorrow. But we were able to get into the fast 12 these past two weekends, so we are definitely headed in the right direction on the road courses.”
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