Saturday, May 22, 2010

Castroneves Takes Pole Position for 2010 Indy 500

Photo Credit: Dan Helrigel

In the past week, IZOD IndyCar teams have been logging laps on the historical 2.5 mile race track in a quest to refine their pursuit for the 94th Indianapolis 500. On Saturday May 22nd, the first true challenge presents the drivers and teams as everyone is going for their maximum speed through a four-lap run.

Started with a brief morning practice, Indy 500 Pole Day officially opened at 11 a.m. with the top-24 starting spots of the classic 2010 Memorial Day weekend race up for grabs . Concluded with a special late day qualifying for the top-9 drivers at 4:30 p.m. called the Fast Nine. Triumphant for the day, the #3 Penske Racing car of Helio Castroneves lit up the 2010 Indy 500 Pole Day with a white-hot run. Exceeding 228 miles per hour in two of his four laps within his Fast-Nine qualifying attempt, Castroneves average four-lap speed was 227.970 miles per hour. "Sitting in that car for an hour in half was not easy at all, especially with everyone getting closer and closer. I was like, 'Are we going or not?' because I can't handle that much pressure." were thoughts in the mind of Helio Castroneves through the Fast-Nine qualifying.

Mounting the closest offensive to capture the pole was Helio Castroneves' teammate Will Power. Driving the #12 Penske Racing car, Power lacked 4/10th of a mile per hour within the combined four-lap qualifying speed average. With fastest practice times pegged just above 227 through the week, it seems to imply that the Penske bunch were holding something back through at Indy. Not in the 226 mile per hour club but still strong for Penske, the third car to the Verizon Penske Racing trio would be firmly planted 4th after qualifying with 226.554 mile per hour attempt.

In touch with the Verizon-sponsored cars enough to ruin a 1-2-3 effort for Penske Racing, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has placed their two-cars within the first two rows. Dario Franchitti in the #10 car will start in 3rd place for the Indy 500 with an average 226.990 mile per hour four-lap qualifying adventure. Unlike the practice session at the race track through the week, Franchitti outran his teammate in the #9 Target car. Scott Dixon settles for 6th place after saying in an interview prior that "The pole is not the end-all to the race."

With Penske Racing and Target/Chip Ganassi Racing taking 5 of the 6 spots of the first two rows, an interloper to this fight was the FAZZT Race Team #77 car driven by Canadian Alex Tagliani. Before the Fast-Nine, Tagliani said "I have to credit the amazing group at the shop. The guys put together a good car. They put their passion, their love into it, and they're willing to stay an hour extra to make sure everything is fine-tuned. The chemistry is fantastic. Everybody feels like they're a part of the result." Indeed, the FAZZT Race Team has found themselves in operating in unison to become the best of the rest outside of the dominant IZOD IndyCar superteams for Indy 500 pole day qualifying.

Determined through the Saturday qualifying, the third row of the 2010 Indy 500 features three cars who experienced a fairy tale time trial results. Leading the group was the one-off effort of Graham Rahal driving a #30 Rahal/Letterman Racing car. An eager young American driver wanting to reclaim a full-time ride in the IZOD IndyCar Series, Rahal is remaining appreciated to the effort of the #30 team. "I think for us it's great to see. I think we're all surprised. None of us expected to be, you know, a tenth of a mile per hour off of Scott Dixon. I think that shows, though, the potential of this team." Graham Rahal said. Another Indy 500 effort was Ed Carpenter driving a car fielded in cooperation with his past Vision Racing team and Panther Racing. As Carpenter makes his first start of 2010 in the Indy 500, he joins Rahal in not only desiring a top Indy 500 finish but a ride for the remainder of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. Hideki Mutoh sailed his #06 Newman/Haas/ Lanigan Racing car to 9th fastest tying the Japanese driver's best qualifying effort from 2008.

Having been a consistent top-10 car through practice and a pre-Pole Day favourite, Tony Kanaan's efforts of a top qualifying run at Indy were swept away on Saturday. Coming out of turn 1 through his qualifying run, Kanaan's #11 Seven/Eleven car lost traction and slid along the track making moderate rear end contact with the straightaway's outside wall. The Brazilian stepped out of his damaged Andretti Autosport car unhurt but suffered pain from the lost qualifying opportunity. To see video of the accident, please refer to the web link to IZOD IndyCar Series' Youtube Channel at Mario Moraes crashed in his #32 KV Racing Technology car in his qualifying attempt swiping the rear wing into the outer wall. As with Kanaan, the damage to Moraes was too suffer for the team's crew to repair.

Photo Credit: Robert Ellis

With the Andretti Autosport #11 car of Tony Kanaan experienced a disappointing end to his Pole Day hopes, his fellow Andretti Autosport team finished the Saturday qualifying session shaking their heads confusion. Showing competitive pace in the practice sessions, the fastest entrant from the team was Marco Andretti who grabbed the 16th spot for the Indy 500 in his #26 . Calling his first qualifying attempt "pathetic", Andretti would eventually settle on a four-lap average qualifying run of 224.575 miles per hour. In 17th place, Ryan Hunter-Reay's IZOD-sponsored #37 car closely mirrored his Andretti Autosport teammate.

Danica Patrick has previously been a solid qualifier within the front rows of Indianapolis 500 events. Unfortunately in 2010, Patrick struggled terribly in qualifying finally to hold on for a 224.217 mile per hour four-lap qualifying run. "I was shaking for minutes after I got out of the car. I know a lot of people are saying they're loose but, I'm sure they are for sure, but this is such an uncomfortable imbalance. It's just uncomfortable." Patrick said unsatisfied with the result but guaranteed in the 2010 Indy 500 in 23rd place.

The 2010 Indy 500 pole brings Castroneves' career first place starting spots at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to four. Contributing also to team owner Roger Penske's tally, the legendary motorsport businessman will watch the Indy 500 start for the 16th time with one of his cars leading off the field Sunday.

With 24 drivers securing their positions in the 2010 Indy 500 during Saturday's Pole Day, other notables making their way into the race through today's qualifying includes three Indy 500 rookies Ana Beatriz, Simona de Silvestro and Bertrand Baguette. Tomorrow, the remaining drivers will compete for the final 9 spots in the 2010 Indy 500 in a scenario called Bump Day.

2010 Indy 500 Qualifying (1-24) Indianapolis Motor Speedway IZOD IndyCar Series

1. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing
2. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing

3. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing

4. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing

5. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada/ FAZZT Race Team

6. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing

20 Ed Carpenter/United States/ Panther Racing
30 Graham Rahal/United States/ Rahal Letterman Racing
9. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing

99 Townsend Bell/United States/ Chip Ganassi Racing/Sam Schmidt Motorsports
11. 22 Justin Wilson/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
12. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil/ Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports

13. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology

21 Davey Hamilton/United States/ de Ferran Dragon Racing
15. 24 Mike Conway/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

16. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport

17. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/ Andretti Autosport

18. 4 Dan Wheldon/England/ Panther Racing

19. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology

20. 23 Tomas Scheckter/South Africa/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
21. 25 Ana Beatriz/Brazil/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
22. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
23. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
24. 36 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium/ Conquest Racing

No comments:

Post a Comment