Penske Sweeps Qualifying

For a team that never has raced at Pikes Peak International Raceway, Marlboro Team Penske sure has a handle on the scenic 1-mile oval.

Gil de Ferran won the MBNA Pole, and Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves earned the second spot during qualifying for the Radisson Indy 225 on June 15 at PPIR.

de Ferran earned his second MBNA Pole of this season, the team's first full-time year in the IRL, with a top lap of 20.2249 seconds, 177.998 mph in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves was second at 20.2304, 177.950 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara.

"What you see here today with Helio and I sitting here on the front row is not really about me and him, it's about this team," de Ferran said. "There are some tracks where we have hardly any experience. Certainly, this being a two-day event puts more pressure on the team. The team did a great job in preparing for this race weekend.

"We came testing here a while ago, and my car was 90 percent ready. All I had to do today was just massage the setup a little. Our engineers did really a superb job in analyzing the racetrack and understanding the requirements for the racetrack. I guess all I have to do is step on the gas."

It was the second time this season that Marlboro Team Penske has swept the front row. De Ferran won the pole and Castroneves was second during MBNA Pole qualifying for the Firestone Indy 225 in April at Nazareth, Pa.

2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone was third at 20.2318, 177.938 in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force, while reigning series champion Sam Hornish Jr. was fourth at 20.3181, 177.182 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara.

Giaffone produced a strong qualifying run on just one lap. He was allowed only one lap due to skipping his original spot in the qualifying draw.

1996 IRL co-champion Scott Sharp rounded out the top five at 20.3493, 176.910 in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara. Defending event champion Buddy Lazier, from Vail, Colo., qualified 11th at 20.6341, 174.468 at his home track in the No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara.

The only incident today occurred when rookie George Mack made contact with the outside retaining wall during the second practice. Mack was unhurt and cleared to drive, and the front of his No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet suffered minor damage.

The Radisson Indy 225 starts at 2 p.m. (MDT) Sunday and will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The final, 30-minute practice starts at 9:30 a.m. (MDT).

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