Helio Castroneves maintained his narrow advantage over the IndyCar Series
field Saturday at Watkins Glen International Raceway, qualifying on the pole
for Sunday’s Watkins Glen Indy GP. Quickest in Friday’s practice,
the Team Penske driver was fastest in both the preliminary single-car qualifying
laps, and in the following 15-minute Firestone Fast Six “shootout” among
the top six qualifiers.
Castroneves edged out defending two-time ‘Glen winner Scott Dixon, and
the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver will start second as he seeks a third-consecutive
Watkins Glen triumph. Despite hitting a seagull on his final flying lap, Dixon
closed to within two-hundredths of a second of what was then the pole lap time.
But Castroneves’ final lap also was his best of the day, and increased
his margin to just over three-tenths of a second around the 3.77-mile road course.
Series points leader Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan both posted the fastest
speeds on their final laps, with Franchitti starting third and his Andretti Green
Racing teammate Kanaan, fourth. Sam Hornish Jr., who missed the final minutes
of the shootout after going off course at the “bus stop” chicane,
will start fifth with Marco Andretti rounding out the top six.
Sunday’s 60-lap race, the second of five road races in 2007, starts
at 3:30 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ABC.
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) pole qualifier: “We ran a pretty
quick time right at the start of the ‘shootout’, but I knew there
was still a little bit more left in both me and the car. We waiting in the pits
for a while to see if anyone would come close, but when Dario [Franchitti] and
Scott [Dixon] went out at the end, I decided it was time for us to go back out,
too. There was some debris on the track in the ‘bus stop’ [chicane]
and the corner after that, but it was still a very good lap. For the race, we’ll
have to see what the weather does. It’s supposed to be hotter, and that
will make it a very physical race. We’ll have to play it smart, and take
advantage of any opportunities that arise.”