SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 22, 2010) - Helio Castroneves won his fourth Indianapolis 500 pole position Saturday and put himself in a prime spot to tie the record for victories at Indy, but his Team Penske teammates aren't far behind.
Castroneves led a tremendous qualifying run by Team Penske by winning the pole position for the 94th running of the race. He'll start from the coveted inside front-row starting position after a blistering four-lap run of 227.970 mph around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda.
Castroneves' chief contenders were his teammates. Will Power will start second in the race after recording an impressive average of 227.578 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda, while Ryan Briscoe will start fourth after posting an average of 226.554 mph in the No. 6 Team Penske machine.
In the first session held under the new qualifying format in the IZOD IndyCar Series, Castroneves clocked the fastest four-lap average on his second attempt after pulling his second-place time off the board late in the opening session. The top nine pole contenders advanced to the 90-minute "Shootout" and Castroneves elected to go out first in the final round of qualifying. Castroneves continued his Indy magic with an electric effort that saw him top the 228 mph barrier twice in his four-lap run for the fastest speeds of month at Indy.
The results marked the fourth Indy 500 pole position for Castroneves and a record 16th for Team Penske, which has also won the race a record 15 times. Castroneves said the pole-winning run was a team effort. Each time he went out to qualify, his teammates answered the challenge.
"Each run encouraged my teammates - if he can do it, I can do it as well. This track is very tricky. You have to go at the right time, and we did that," said Castroneves. "It's great to be part of this team. We work so well together. I'm on the pole but all three of us benefit from it. I'm very proud of Team Penske, they did a great job today."
Castroneves went out to defend his eventual winning time late in the Shootout only to waive off his final two laps when it was clear he wasn't going to equal his first attempt. Power, the IndyCar Series points leader, also took a shot at Castroneves' average but fell less than three-tenths of a second short.
"It's great to see the Verizon car on the front row and the Penske cars 1-2," said Power. "It's pretty tough to beat Helio at Indianapolis. He's a quick guy. I'm happy with our starting position and it's good for the points. When I saw Helio's time, I thought that's crazy fast. But when I put the downforce level he had on a bit later, I was up there in the high 27s. I should have done that when it was warmer and the air was thinner, but that comes down to experience and he has great experience here."
Briscoe, who won the pole position in the previous IndyCar race at Kansas Speedway, also took a run at the top position Saturday, but fell just a bit short. He did earn his second top-five starting spot in a row at Indianapolis and made it three Penske cars in the top four as Dario Franchitti qualified in the third position.
"I am just a little disappointed that I could not do my part to sweep the front row for Team Penske," said Briscoe. "All in all, it was a fun day though - fourth is a good starting spot. I am really happy for Helio and Will. I think we are going to have a great 500."
Saturday's results mark the fifth consecutive IndyCar Series pole for Team Penske this season and it represents the sixth straight season with a front-row qualifier for the team at the Indy 500. It also puts Castroneves in prime position to tie the record of four Indy 500 victories shared by Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser.
Castroneves will be chasing history in the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend. ABC's live coverage of the event will begin at 12 p.m. ET next Sunday, May 30.