Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves just scraped into the Firestone “Fast
Six” qualifying shootout Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but
made the most of the opportunity by claiming the IndyCar Series pole for Sunday’s
Honda Indy 200.
Castroneves posted the sixth-fastest time in single-car qualifying, putting
him into the 10-minute group qualifying “shootout” along with all
four Andretti Green Racing drivers and Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott
Dixon. He then jumped to the top of the charts in the opening minutes of the
group session and was never headed.
Danica Patrick produced her career best street/road course qualifying effort
to run second, with her Andretti Green teammates Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti
and Dario Franchitti slotting in third, fourth and fifth. Dixon, winner of the
last two IndyCar races, completed the top six qualifiers.
Although they didn’t make the top six, Darren Manning and Buddy Rice continued
to stand out at Mid-Ohio, qualifying eighth and ninth, respectively, for A.J.
Foyt Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
Making his IndyCar Series debut this weekend, rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay rounds
out the top 10 qualifiersfor Rahal Letterman Racing.
Sunday’s 85-lap race, the last of five consecutive mid-summer race weekends
in 2007, starts at 1:30 p.m. EDT (pending the conclusion of the British Open
golf tournament), with live television coverage on ABC.
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) pole qualifier:
so tough to find time at this track, I've been driving the wheels off my car
all weekend long. We struggled a bit yesterday, and even this morning. But my
team never gave up, and I never gave up. We kept making changes every session,
right up through qualifying, and now we have the pole. It's a great reward for
all that work, and I have to thank the team. Tomorrow is going to be very difficult,
it will be a very physical race. The best place to start is from the front, and
we accomplished that goal today.”