Castroneves Again On WGI Pole

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Helio Castroneves ran a track-record lap of 1:29.1919, 136.021 mph, during Firestone Fast Six Qualifying to secure the pole for Sunday’s Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix. It was his third consecutive pole position at the 3.4-mile road circuit.

"I knew I had a little bit more in me and the car, but I didn’t want to do anything stupid," said Castroneves, who won his fifth pole of the season and the record 21st of his IndyCar Series career in the No. 3 Team Penske Honda Dallara."It was a very good lap. It was a maximum team effort, and it paid off today. This is a very difficult track, and if you make a small mistake you can lose three-tenths. Qualifying anymore in the IndyCar Series is like a race. That’s why I’m so excited today."

Second fastest was Scott Dixon, who is seeking to remain undefeated at The Glen in IndyCar Series competition. Dixon won both the 2005 and 2006 races here. His qualifying run of 1:29.5686, 135.449 mph, was not without incident, as he clipped a ring-billed gull and scattered feathers in the Inner Loop in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

"It’s a bit of an improvement for us," said Dixon, who started fourth here the past two years in the No. 9 . "Obviously, Helio is going to be very fast. The race is a different story from qualifying. The big picture for us is to gain points on Dario in the championship.

"I tried to miss them without wrecking the car," Dixon said of his incident with the gulls. "I didn’t feel it, but coming by the next time, I saw a scattering of feathers."

Andretti Green Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan secured the second row positions. Seeking his third consecutive IndyCar Series victory, Franchitti ran a lap of 135.286 mph in the No. 26 Canadian Club Honda. Kanaan ran a lap of 135.124 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car.

Sam Hornish Jr., who ran out of ethanol during the Firestone Fast Six, will start fifth in the No. 6 Team Penske entry, 134.849 mph. He will be joined in the third row by Marco Andretti, 134.594 mph in the No. 27 NYSE Honda.

Dixon set the fastest lap in the single-car qualifying, 1:30.5212, 134.024 mph, followed by Castroneves, 134.013 mph. The top six qualifiers then had six minutes to improve their speed, with Castroneves quickly taking the top spot and holding on despite all six drivers improving their speeds.

Rounding out the top 10 qualifiers were Buddy Rice, Vitor Meira, Darren Manning and Dan Wheldon.

Sarah Fisher, attempting to race for the first time at The Glen, spun exiting Turn 8 on her qualifying lap and made light contact with the barrier. She will start last in the 18-car field.

The 60-lap Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix, the 10th of 17 races on the 2007 IndyCar Series schedule, is set to take the green flag at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

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