Birmingham, AL (SportsNetwork.com) – Helio Castroneves claimed the pole
position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, while his teammates Will
Power and Simon Pagenaud qualified second and third to give Team Penske a
1-2-3 sweep in Saturday’s qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park.
The final round of qualifying — the Fast Six — was stopped with 1 minute and
40 seconds remaining in the 10-minute segment due to lightning in the area.
Castroneves had just made a lap around this 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course in
1:07.1925 to win his second pole in the IndyCar Series this season and the
43rd of his career. Last weekend, Castroneves won the pole in Long Beach,
California with a new track qualifying record there. He finished to Scott
Dixon in the race.
Juan Pablo Montoya, who drives for Penske and is the current points leader,
struggled in qualifying with a 15th-place finish.
It’s the second time Castroneves has won the pole at Barber. He started first
and finished third here in 2012. Castroneves won the inaugural IndyCar race at
this track in 2010.
“It’s all about team effort, and today is just another team effort,”
Castroneves said. “You can see it’s (a Penske) 1-2-3. It’s a shame that Juan
Pablo is not there.”
Castroneves enters Sunday’s 90-lap race at Barber — the fourth event on this
year’s IndyCar schedule — just three points behind Montoya. There is no rain
in the forecast for this race.
Power, the defending IndyCar champion and 2011 and ’12 race winner at Barber,
posted a lap time of 1:07.3833. He finished 20th in the Long Beach race after
qualifying 18th there.
“We were very strong in qualifying, but unfortunately it rained before the
end,” Power said. “I just kick myself because the two laps I did there in the
Fast Six I didn’t go harder. But I’m very happy to be starting on the front
row, considering last week (at Long Beach). Starting up front is huge here. We
can win from there. That’s definitely the plan tomorrow.”
Pagenaud, in his first season with Penske, will line up third, followed by
Dixon, who has finished either second or third in the first five races at
Starting fifth through 10th will be: Josef Newgarden, Tony Kanaan, Sebastien
Bourdais, Graham Rahal, Luca Filippi and James Hinchcliffe.
Montoya failed to advance out of the first qualifying round. His lap was
clocked in 1:07.7235.
“We just struggled to put a good lap together,” Montoya said. “We did have a
few issues with the balance of the car.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the winner of the last two IndyCar races at Barber, will
start 18th in his attempt to win three in a row here.