HELIO CASTRONEVES WINS THE POLE FOR SUNDAY'S DELPHI INDY 300

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By Dave Lewandowski
indyracing.com

Helio Castroneves had secured MBNA Pole Awards on the short ovals of Nazareth Speedway and Richmond International Raceway this season. On Sept. 11, he grabbed his third -- on the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway.

Delphi Indy 300 Information

Castroneves, taking advantage of rising track temperature as 16th in the qualifying line, posted a fast lap of 214.759 mph (25.4797 seconds) and will start from the pole position for the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 12. IRL IndyCar? Series points leader Tony Kanaan will start alongside Castroneves after a qualifying effort of 214.030 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

It was the second consecutive pole and seventh of Castroneves? career. At the one-mile Nazareth Speedway on Aug. 29, he led the first 62 laps and 100 overall but finished fifth. Though the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner has 10 top-10 finishes this season, he is still seeking his first victory.

?It was great, a great team effort,? said Castroneves, who drives the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. ?Marlboro Team Penske worked really hard to make sure that we covered all the areas. I have to also mention Toyota. They?ve been working very hard through the season to catch those Hondas and Chevy.?

He has two victories (Gateway in 2003 and Phoenix in 2002) from the pole.

?Every time you start in the front, it gives you a good boost,? Castroneves said. ?Especially the last race, we were running extremely well, but unfortunately things happened to us that we couldn?t control. Hopefully, (Sept. 12) we?ll be in control.

?It?s going to be a good show for sure. We just have to be patient. I know Tony wants to win the championship, and I want to win the race. It?s the perfect combination for both guys on the front row. It?s going to be tight and a lot of people shoving and trying to find space.?

A top-5 finish will enhance Kanaan?s drive to the championship. He enters the 14th of 16 IndyCar Series events with a 72-point lead on teammate Dan Wheldon and 76 over Rahal Letterman Racing?s Buddy Rice.

?Not the best run, but it?s a long race,? said Kanaan, who has one victory in seven front-row starts. ?If I could be on the pole, I would, but we did our best. We have a good race car.?

Kanaan has finished in the top 10 in every race, and only once out of the top 5.

"After the morning (practice) session, we tried a bunch of different things, but we knew 214 (mph) was what we could do," Kanaan said. "After I did my qualifying lap and I matched my practice time, I knew I took everything out of my car.

"So let's go race. It's great to be up in the front, because you have fewer people to deal with in the beginning of the race."

Rice (213.843 mph) and Andretti Green Racing?s Dario Franchitti (213.644) will occupy Row 2. Rice had qualified 11th and 10th the past two races after recording his fifth pole of the season at Kentucky Speedway.

?It was a pretty good number for us, but I know we have a very good race car and that is what we are looking for,? said Rice, driver of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer Argent Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone.

?We are going to get our race strategy together and not worry about the points or any other drivers. We have been good on the 1.5-mile ovals throughout the year. We can?t worry about points right now. We need to do what we have been doing all year, and the race will work out for us.?

Wheldon (213.130 mph) and A.J. Foyt IV (213.023) will start on Row 3. It will be a career-high start for Foyt, whose previous best this season was 14th in July at Kansas Speedway.

?The Conseco car?s been good since we got here,? said Foyt of the No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. ?We worked hard

to set it up to run as free as possible and it paid off. Toyota has been working real hard to get us up front, and I think with (Castroneves) on the pole, their hard work is showing. It feels good.?

Two-time defending Delphi Indy 300 winner Sam Hornish Jr. will start seventh in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

The crew of the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Tomas Scheckter was in the process of changing the engine when his qualifying turn arrived. He will start from the back of the field.

?During the morning practice today, we found a little problem in the engine,? Scheckter said. ?Rather than damage it, we wanted to play it safe and decided to change it out. That way we can run the race motor in the last practice session this afternoon, and we can be a lot stronger (in the race).?

Panther Racing teammate Townsend Bell qualified 12th (212.083 mph) a day after the crew changed the engine of the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

The crew of the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone changed the engine after the car qualified 21st (208.481 mph). It will remain 21st on the starting grid.

Of Note: Red Bull Cheever Racing teammates Alex Barron and Ed Carpenter had the same qualifying time (25.8938). Barron will start 15th and Carpenter, an IndyCar Series rookie, 16th. ?It?s kind of funny how things worked out, but when you?re running identical setups it?s bound to happen,? Carpenter said. ... The top five starters are in the top five in the standings. ... Castroneves is the only non-Honda driver this season to win a pole.

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