Penske Pair Powerful

Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves turned MBNA Pole Qualifying into a Marlboro Team Penske party for the second consecutive Indy Racing League event, sweeping the front row June 28 for the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway.

de Ferran won his third MBNA Pole of the season with a lap of 16.0043, 168.705 mph in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara, crushing the track record of 16.8311, 160.417 set by Jaques Lazier during qualifying for this event last year.

"That's what it's all about: hanging all out out there," de Ferran said. "All we're doing is minding our own business and working hard and trying hard."

IRL points leader Castroneves will start outside of his teammate for the second consecutive race after posting a top lap of 16.0702, 168.013 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara.

"Again, it's another Marlboro Team Penske front row," two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves said. "I'm not going to play easy this time in the race. Tomorrow is another day, and tomorrow it counts."

It was the third time this season that Marlboro Team Penske has swept the front row, an IRL record. de Ferran has won the pole with Castroneves starting second in April at Nazareth Speedway and at the last IRL event, at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

"You have to really applaud the team when you see a one-two again on the front row," said de Ferran, who is second in series points. "These guys have really done a tremendous job this year."

The 250-lap race on the tricky .75-mile oval - the shortest track in the IRL - starts at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. ESPN will televise the race live.

Defending series champion Sam Hornish Jr. qualified third at 16.2840, 165.807 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara in which he crashed during practice this afternoon. Laurent Redon tied his career-best qualifying position of fourth with a lap of 16.3456, 165.182 in the No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara.

Defending event champion Buddy Lazier rounded out the top five at 16.3744, 164.892 in the No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara.

Sarah Fisher qualified 15th at 16.6521, 162.142 in the No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force in her first race after signing a deal to drive with the team for the rest of the season.

Hornish wasn't the only driver caught by the tight "bullring" at Richmond.

1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee and rookie George Mack crashed during separate accidents in practice. Neither driver was hurt.

McGehee qualified 16th at 16.7501, 161.193 in his repaired No. 54 Norwalk/Parsons Motorsports Dallara. But 310 Racing did not repair Mack's car in time for qualifying, instead concentrating on rebuilding a car in time for the race.

1996 IRL co-champion Scott Sharp did a 360-degree spin during afternoon practice in his No. 8 Delphi Dallara but made no contact. Sharp went on to qualify sixth at 16.3845, 164.790.

The 30-minute final practice starts at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday.

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