Castroneves leads Penske march in Road America qualifying
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) — Team Penske will have a stranglehold on the first two rows in the IndyCar race at Road America.
Helio Castroneves won the pole Saturday, turning a lap in 1 minute, 41.30 seconds at 142.649 mph. It was his 50th career pole, and third of the season.
Castroneves edged teammate Will Power by 0.06 seconds. Power won the race last year at the rural Wisconsin road course.
Castroneves broke a tie for third on the career poles list with Bobby Unser. Only Mario Andretti (67) and A.J. Foyt (53) have more poles.
“He just gets faster as he gets older,” Power joked. “He’s like wine.”
Castroneves is in his 20th IndyCar season. He won his first pole in 1999 at the Milwaukee Mile.
As he walked to the podium after qualifying, Castroneves talked about the honor of winning what he thought was his 51st career pole before he was corrected by the moderator.
“Did I say 51? Sorry it’s a bad habit,” said Castroneves, clearing his throat. “Well anyway, you guys know what I’m talking about.”
Two more Penske drivers will start in the second row Sunday race after Josef Newgarden qualified third and Simon Pagenaud fourth. The Chevy-powered Penske cars also turned in the fastest practice times most of the weekend.
Points leader Scott Dixon will start fifth, with Graham Rahal sixth.
“You know, obviously (Penske has) got something going here that we don’t,” Rahal said. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. Go out there and take the challenge to them, as will Dixie, (and) see what happens.”
JUST THE POINTS: All six of the top drivers are separated by 49 points atop the crowded season leaderboard.
SATO SENT BACK: Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato had a disappointing day. Sato, who is third in the points standings, will start in the second-to-last row in 20th place. Sato is 14 points behind Dixon.
BACK IN THE STATES: Mikhail Aleshin finally got behind the wheel of his No. 7 Honda on Saturday after his trip to Road America was delayed by a visa issue in France. The Russian driver was returning to the IndyCar circuit after competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last week. Aleshin will start 19th.
“I’m happy I got the visa. I’m happy to race for this team, in this series, in this country,” Aleshin said.
TOUGH DAY FOR TONY: Tony Kanaan will start 16th, a season-low for the veteran driver. But he should benefit from the experience of his previous success at the road course. Kanaan has finished out the top 10 just once in six starts at Road America. He was second last year.
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