Penske Takes Front Row


Marlboro Team Penske's front man Roger Penske once owned Michigan International Speedway. Today, he took possession of the front row at MIS with drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish  Jr., qualifying one-two respectively for tomorrow's IRL IndyCar® Series Firestone Indy 400.
It was over early. Hornish, the second driver to make a qualifying attempt, sat on the pole with a speed of 216.466 miles per hour, but only for a couple of minutes. Castroneves was the next driver to make an attempt and nudged his teammate to the outside of the front row with a speed of 216.777. It was the fourth consecutive time that Hornish has landed on the outside of the front row.

No one even postured for the pole after that with Andretti Green Team driver Tony Kanaan third fastest at 214.763 mph, over two miles per hour slower than Castroneves.

When asked if tomorrow's race might be a somewhat boring affair based on their dominating qualifying speeds, Castroneves said, "I hope it's the most boring race ever. But you know how Indy cars are. It's never like that. I just hope it will be like that but you can't predict that."

It was Castroneves' second consecutive pole, fifth this season and extended his IRL record to 15. It was the fourth time this season that Castroneves and Hornish, the current IRL points leader, have started on the front row.

"Everything has gone pretty good for us today, not only in qualifying trim, but also race trim," Hornish said. "We knew we had a good shot at the pole and maybe we can get out of here with a win tomorrow."

The biggest surprise of the day was the inability of 19-year-old Marco Andretti to find any speed. He had to get out of line before making his initial qualifying attempt so additional work could be done on his car. He was the last driver to qualify and placed last with a speed of 209.886 mph.
"We didn't expect a 209," said Andretti, son of team owner Michael Andretti. "I'm not happy. I mean, that was the scariest qualifying run I've ever had and we're at Michigan.
The car's just way neutral. There's something different in the setup even though we think our car is identical to one of our teammates'."

Danica Patrick, the first driver to make a qualifying attempt, sat on the pole for a matter of seconds until Hornish went out. Her speed of 213.450 landed her in the 11th starting position, just behind Rahal Letterman teammate Buddy Rice.

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