Castroneves Captures Indy Pole
May 11, 2003 | 7:49 P.M. EST
"This one of the best days of my life. It's fantastic," said Castroneves. "It's a dream come true."
This is Helio Castroneves' first career Indianapolis 500 pole, and it's the second time he has won the MBNA Pole for an IRL IndyCar Series event. He won from the MBNA Pole in 2002 at Phoenix. It also was the 12th Indianapolis 500 pole for Penske Racing.
Tony Kanaan qualified second at 231.006 in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara-Honda. The run was the best qualifying effort by a Honda engine in Indianapolis 500 history. The previous best was third by Scott Goodyear in 1995.
Robby Gordon rounded out the front row at 230.205 in the No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara-Honda, tying his best career qualifying effort. He started third in 2001.
"The car had a big push in Turns 1 and 2 on my last warm-up lap, and that hurt my momentum on the first lap," said Gordon. "My first lap was OK, but I just didn't have the momentum for the first half of the lap. The Archipelago/Motorola car was really good today. We never talked about waving off the run. We took a half-turn out of the front wing after practice this morning, and I think that was the difference in qualifying today."
Twenty-four of the 33 available spots were filled today. Bump Day qualifying is scheduled for Sunday. The track reopens for practice Wednesday.
Castroneves will attempt to become the first driver to win three consecutive Indianapolis 500s when the 87th Indy 500 takes the green flag on May 25.