With just minutes remaining in the Firestone “Fast Six” qualifying shootout, Helio Castroneves jumped from third to first in his final flying lap, securing an IndyCar Series-record seventh pole this season Saturday at the Detroit Indy Grand Prix.
Castroneves posted the third-fastest time in single-car qualifying to reach the shootout, while Dario Franchitti ran quickest both in the single-car runs and for the first half of the 10-minute “shootout” of topsix qualifiers. With less than five minutes remaining, Franchitti pitted, first overall and believing he had turned the fastest possible lap in his Andretti Green Racing Honda. But Castroneves went out for one final run, and grabbed the pole by just eight-hundredths of a second, despite having to avoid the stalled car of series rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay, who had run out of fuel.
Franchitti held on for second, with his primary championship rival and current IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon third. Tony Kanaan will start on the outside of the second row in fourth, with Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti rounding out the top six.
Sunday’s 90-lap Detroit Indy Grand Prix, fifth and final road-course event of the year and the 16th of 17 races in 2007, starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on ABC.
Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Honda) pole qualifier, IndyCar Series record seventh pole of 2007, 23rd career IndyCar pole:
“That was really exciting. Dario [Franchitti] was the guy I was most worried about. He was very quick, both in the single-car run and during the shootout. But I thought I
could squeeze a few more hundredths [of a second] out on my final run. I pushed as hard as I could, and the car got very sideways coming out of the last corner, but I saved it! I’m happy to have the [pole] record, but I only have one win from all those poles this year, and I’m going all out for the victory tomorrow. I know Dario is going to be very strong in the race, but I’m going to go for it. I’m not in the championship fight, so I want the [race] victory.”