Very Fast Castroneves Fastest On Fast Friday

| , RacinToday.com Friday, May 20 2011

A car owned by Roger Penske and driven by Helio Castroneves was fastest on Fast Friday at Indianapolis.


Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves laid down a lap of 228.611 mph that roused the sun-soaked crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and raised a few competitors’ eyebrows on Fast Friday, the six-hour session in which 39 drivers prepared for Pole Day by recording 2,254 laps on the 2.5-mile oval.

Alex Tagliani (228.327) remained strong in the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, while Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car was third (228.181) on the speed chart. Ryan Briscoe, driving the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car, was fourth (228.029) and Bertrand Baguette cracked the top five (228.028) in the No. 30 RACB/Aspria Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Special.

Eight different teams were represented in the top 10 of the speed chart, and the field was separated by 1.0729 seconds.

The top 24 spots in the 33-car field will be available through traditional four-lap attempts from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Each car will have up to three attempts, and bumping begins when the 24 spots are filled. The times of the top nine drivers from this first segment of qualifying will be erased at 4 p.m., with all of those competitors guaranteed to start no worse than ninth.

From 4:30-6 p.m. the “Fast Nine” will be required to make at least one four-lap qualifying attempt and additional/optional attempts are available if time permits. Each driver’s best run will set their position on the starting grid.

“Qualifying tomorrow will be very tight,” Castroneves said. “I can see that my teammates will be strong ones, and there are other guys doing fast times out there, too. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Fast Nine. I think we will see speeds in the 228 range tomorrow. It is going to be similar weather as today, but if it is a little bit humid, we may lose a little bit of power. I think everybody has something more. Today was a fast Friday. Everybody started laying out the wings and going fast. I’m very happy with my boys with the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra car. It was very smooth, especially in the race trim, so I was very happy.

“We did a lot of laps today, and I wanted to make sure I was happy with the race car. It will probably be the last chance before we go into the race to run in those kinds of conditions. All of my boys were on the same page. As soon as we felt happy with the race trim, race setup, we decided to change and go for it. We had some moments out there. I’ve got to keep moving forward and have a good lap out there tomorrow and have a good day for the entire Team Penske.”Indy qualifications also have an impact on the championship, with 15 points awarded to the pole sitter through three points for starting 25th-33rd. Only the PEAK Performance Pole Award winner in the other 16 IZOD IndyCar Series races receives the bonus (one point).”

Castroneves won the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone in 2010 with a four-lap average speed of 227.970 mph. Sebastian Saavedra (223.634) was the slowest of the 33 starters, and the field average was 224.974.

“Our team continues to rise every weekend,” Tagliani said. “When we are in the window when we roll off the truck, we have a great group of people who make it easy to fine-tune the car. Being a one-car team, when we are off the window, it’s not easy, but this week, the car has been strong. With a few aerodynamic changes from last year, the car has been very consistent.

“It’s been nice just to fine-tune and not reinvent the wheel on our setup. I need to take my hat off to the guys. They have been very meticulous in preparing the car and on a track with high speed like this, it’s crucial. As a driver, you need to be comfortable in the car, and you need to drive it well, but you need to have the car, but if you don’t there’s nothing you can do.”

Positions 25-33 are available on Armed Forces Day/Bump Day (May 22). Bumping begins once 33 cars have qualified.

Qualifying position for Saturday at Indianapolis Motors Speedway

QP Car Driver

1 34 Sebastian Saavedra

2 83 Charlie Kimball (R)

3 98 Dan Wheldon (W)

4 77 Alex Tagliani

5 5T Takuma Sato

6 18 James Jakes (R)

7 30 Bertrand Baguette

8 57 TBA

9 06 James Hinchcliffe (R)

10 38 Graham Rahal

11 4 JR Hildebrand (R)

12 28T Ryan Hunter-Reay

13 6 Ryan Briscoe

14 8 Ho-Pin Tung (R)

15 26T Marco Andretti

16 12 Will Power

17 34T Sebastian Saavedra

18 11 Davey Hamilton

19 18T James Jakes (R)

20 36 Pippa Mann (R)

21 12T Will Power

22 3T Helio Castroneves (W)

23 23 Paul Tracy

24 24T Ana Beatriz

25 27T Mike Conway

26 11T Davey Hamilton

27 67T Ed Carpenter

28 30T Bertrand Baguette

29 07 Tomas Scheckter

30 88 Jay Howard (R)

31 82T Tony Kanaan

32 44T Buddy Rice (W)

33 17T Raphael Matos

34 6T Ryan Briscoe

35 26 Marco Andretti

36 22T Justin Wilson

37 44 Buddy Rice (W)

38 98T Dan Wheldon (W)

39 7T Danica Patrick

40 41 Bruno Junqueira

41 19 Alex Lloyd

42 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay

43 83T Charlie Kimball (R)

44 17 Raphael Matos

45 59 E.J. Viso

46 99 Townsend Bell

47 14 Vitor Meira

48 06T James Hinchcliffe (R)

49 22 Justin Wilson

50 27 Mike Conway

51 59T E.J. Viso

52 2T Oriol Servia

53 3 Helio Castroneves (W)

54 07T Tomas Scheckter

55 10T Dario Franchitti (W)

56 5 Takuma Sato

57 9 Scott Dixon (W)

58 78T Simona De Silvestro

59 14T Vitor Meira

60 43 John Andretti

61 41T Bruno Junqueira

62 2 Oriol Servia

63 24 Ana Beatriz

64 77T Alex Tagliani

65 20 Scott Speed (R)

66 9T Scott Dixon (W)

67 23T Paul Tracy

68 36T Pippa Mann (R)

69 82 Tony Kanaan

70 99T Townsend Bell

71 88T Jay Howard (R)

72 43T John Andretti

73 67 Ed Carpenter

74 7 Danica Patrick

75 38T Graham Rahal

76 10 Dario Franchitti (W)

77 4T JR Hildebrand (R)

78 19T Alex Lloyd

(W) – Indianapolis 500 Winner

(R) – Indianapolis 500 Rookie

| , RacinToday.com Friday, May 20 2011
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