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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.
James Hinchcliffe during practice prior to Qualifying for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (Photo by: Leigh Spargur)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Buddy Lazier following qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon leaves for his qualifying run for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins pole for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins pole for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Doug Mathews for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon car after winning pole for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ed Carpenter. Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Sunday May 17 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ed Carpenter gets ready on pit lane. Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Sunday May 17 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Mark Miles and Derrick Walker speak with the media regarding qualifying changes. Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Sunday May 17 2015. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)

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