Castroneves Leads Team, Qualifies Second, at Milwaukee
June 18, 2011
Photo courtesy of Steve Swope
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 18, 2011) – Helio Castroneves took a gamble Saturday during qualifying for Sunday's Milwaukee 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. His reward was a front-row starting position.
Castroneves led the Team Penske effort and will start second Sunday following his two-lap run of 169.999 mph Saturday around the flat one-mile oval. Teammates Ryan Briscoe and Will Power will start eighth and 17th, respectively.
Castroneves said he and his Team Penske crew decided to gamble as they took downforce out of the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Dallara/Honda before Castroneves' qualifying run.
"We took a little gamble and it certainly paid off," said Castroneves. "I'm certainly excited to be starting on the front row here in Milwaukee, especially after the start to the season that we've had."
The effort marked the top qualifying result of the season for Castroneves, a three-time polewinner at the Milwaukee Mile.
Briscoe said the No. 6 Transitions Adaptive Lenses Team Penske Dallara/Honda felt the best has it has all weekend during his qualifying run of 168.598 mph.
"That was a good solid qualifying effort for the No. 6 Transitions Adaptive Lenses car," said Briscoe. "We were flat-out all the way around the track and the car felt great. In retrospect, maybe we should have trimmed the car out a bit more, but we have been chasing the balance on the car this weekend, so I am satisfied with a top-10 starting spot. With the help of my Team Penske pit crew and Roger (Penske), we should be in great shape for the race tomorrow."
Power, who leads the IZOD IndyCar Series standings after his first oval track win last weekend in the second race of the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway, posted a two-lap average of 166.248 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Power's car got loose in Turn 3 during his first qualifying lap and he made a remarkable save to keep the car off the wall, but he was not able to threaten for the pole, despite being one of the fastest cars on track throughout practice.
"That's a tough qualifying result for Verizon Team Penske," said Power, who suffered his worst qualifying result of the season. "We were flat through turns one and two but we had a big moment there in turn three when we got loose and that cost us. It's certainly not where wanted to start the race, but we know we have a good race car and we'll put our heads down and try to make up ground tomorrow. I love racing here in Milwaukee and it should definitely be an entertaining race for the fans."
Castroneves was the second-to-last driver to qualify on Saturday afternoon and he fell just short of Dario Franchitti's pole-winning average.
"I am very happy and this is the best qualifying run of the year," said Castroneves, who entered the weekend ranked 14th in the championship standings after two top-10 finishes at Texas last weekend. "After a good result in Texas things started turning around for us and this is what we needed. Yes I would like a pole position, but at the end of the day I will take second place right now. It is a good position to start the race from and my team strategy is right on this weekend. My GuidePoint Systems car is very fast this weekend so hopefully we will be in good shape for tomorrow. This track is challenging and you are going to see people take chances here. When the team has the car dialed in, it is going to be awesome. I got my first victory in Detroit in 2000 on Father's Day so I am hoping that tomorrow is day – again."
Team Penske will be looking for its eighth victory at Milwaukee on Sunday and its third win in the last six IndyCar races at the historic oval. ABC's live coverage of the Milwaukee 225 will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET.