Miami's Castroneves takes Indy 500 pole; precursor to Miami Championship Weekend Oct. 9-10?
Castroneves Takes His Third Pole at Indy
Helio Castroneves at the start/finish line after winning the pole for the 2009 Indy 500 (courtesy Jim Haines IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves will start his ninth Indianapolis 500 from a familiar spot. The Brazilian and Miami resident, who celebrated his 34th birthday on May 10, scored his third Indianapolis 500 pole position and Roger Penske's record 15th pole position with a four-lap average speed of 224.864 mph on the famed 2.5-mile oval. It was the Brazilian's 27th career IndyCar Series pole and his first of the season. Castroneves is still getting used to racing again after having to endure a lengthy legal battle.
"Just to be here right now is awesome. I have to say that without this crowd here, without the support of the fans, there was no way I could have gotten through what I did."
Teammate Ryan Briscoe made a late attempt to unseat Castroneves in the six-hour session, withdrawing his second-best qualifying time, but came up short. He'll be in the middle of Row 1, with 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti on the outside in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
The first 11 spots of the 33-car field were set on Pole Day. Positions 12-22 were set May 10. The remaining 11 positions will be decided May 16-17 following "Bump Day"
Graham Rahal, making his second start, qualified fourth in the No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. Reigning Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, the '08 pole sitter, and Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan also will be on Row 2. Kanaan, whose initial attempt was disqualified because of a post-qualifying technical inspection infraction, bumped his way into the field with an hour left. He's never started lower than sixth in his eight 500 Mile Races.
Mario Moraes, driving the No. 5 KV Racing Technology-Votorantim car, qualified sixth with a four-lap average of 223.331. Marco Andretti and Will Power will join Moraes on Row 3.
Danica Patrick will start in the 10th position and Alex Lloyd 11th. Lloyd bumped Hideki Mutoh from the field with an attempt that ended one minute before the end of the day. Six different teams are represented in the 11 positions.