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Penske not weeping over Iowa front row


Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe will start on the front row for Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer after the line-up had to be based on entrant points.

Although it didn't rain at the track on Saturday, PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying had to be cancelled as the heavy downpours on Friday, and earlier in the week, caused persistent weepers in several locations on the 0.875-mile oval. Ironically, qualifying hadn't had to be cancelled since last June's race at Iowa....

Despite missing the opening round of the season, and having a nightmare weekend in Milwaukee, Castroneves' #3 car leads the entrant points thanks to two wins and a second by the Brazilian and, crucially, the sixth place at St Petersburg by fill-in driver Will Power.

"I have to thank Will because those points definitely kept me in the front of the pits and now gave me the pole position at Iowa," the Indy 500 winner noted, "Unfortunately for the fans, they didn't get to see the excitement of qualifying but, fortunately for me, I end up getting a great situation here with a good starting position. Now that we have a Team Penske front row, we'll go for the win tomorrow."

Briscoe, the leader in the driver points, is second in entrant points and, as he did with pit position in the recent Texas round, misses out to his team-mate because of Power's contribution. The Australian will take heart, however, from the fact that the driver who started first did not win either of the events where qualifying was rained out in 2008.

"Obviously, we'd much rather be out there qualifying, so it's unfortunate," he admitted, "The good thing is that we're up there in the points and get the front row start and, hopefully, that will help us tomorrow. I felt good for qualifying, like Team Penske had a good shot for the pole. It's so close at the front that it's hard to say, but hopefully they can get the track in good shape for tonight and tomorrow."

Power's contribution was marked by Castroneves inviting his stand-in to accept the PEAK Performance Pole Award with him.

"This was all Helio's idea - he's a great guy and I always like to help out," the Australian revealed, "Starting on the pole here is really important, so it's great to see the two Team Penske cars on the front row. I love working with this team, and I have two great team-mates. We all work well together."

Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti will start third and fourth, respectively, with Andretti Green's Danica Patrick fifth. The reigning series champion was frustrated as he felt that he had a shot at pole, but accepted that, even without rain on Saturday, the situation with the weepers was difficult to judge.

"It's tough, as we should have been fairly decent," he sighed, "The car wasn't too bad in the run, but there was a fair bit of water on the track. The cautiousness there is the more cars you run, the more water you draw onto the track, so the guys in the back [of the line] were going to have a tougher time, and you could certainly crash your car. I think it was a tough decision for [IRL president of competition and racing operations] Brian [Barnhart], but I think he made the right one."



Related Pictures

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Indy Racing League. 17-19 April 2009. Long Beach Grand Prix. Long Beach, California USA.  Helio Castroneves.
Helio Castroneves leads the field down the frontstretch during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, races to a fourth-place finish Saturday, June 27, 2015, in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sage Karam climbs into his car on pit road for his qualifying run during qualifications for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon climbs into his car on pit road for his qualifying run during qualifications for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud gets ready for his qualifying run during qualifications for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti go side-by-side during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Penske Truck Rental Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates capturing the pole position during qualifying Friday, June 26, 2015, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Penske Truck Rental Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates capturing the pole position during qualifying Friday, June 26, 2015, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Penske Truck Rental Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest Friday, June 26, 2015, capturing the pole position for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Josef Newgarden, and Sebastien Bourdais mix it up on the frontstretch during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Luca Filippi, Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden celebrate on the podium after the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies third-fastest Saturday, June 13, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race through the streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 PPG Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies second-fastest Saturday, June 13, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race through the streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest Saturday, June 13, 2015 capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race through the streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Power will start in the front row with teammate Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates after qualifying fastest Saturday, June 13, 2015 capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race through the streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Power will start in the front row with teammate Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet V-6. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves on course during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves apexes Turn 5 during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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