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Castroneves takes pole position at Barber

An eventful qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park has left the starting grid for Sunday's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama looking more than a little mixed up.
It was always expected that the introduction of the new chassis and engine specifications for 2012 would shake things up a little and leave some teams struggling while allowing others to take advantage to leap forward - and that's exactly what happened in qualifying on Saturday.

Even so, the sight of reigning four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti down in 18th place on the grid for Sunday's Honda Indy Grand prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park is a bit of a shock. The Scot struggled to optimise his set-up and locked up pushing too hard on his final flying lap of round 1, finding himself left outside the top six positions that went through to round 2.

"Lack of balance overall really," he summed up. “Lack of track time too - and we haven't been great so far." Being in a particularly tough round 1 group hadn't helped either, but Franchitti wasn't making excuses. "Not where we want to be but we'll go back and work on it."

At least his Ganassi team mate Scott Dixon made it through that round and indeed all the way into the final Firestone Fast Six pole shoot-out. But in the end, Dixon's best lap wasn't enough to oust Penske's Helio Castroneves from pole position.

“It's a great result,” said a delighted Castroneves. "It's better to be lucky than good, and so far, it's paying off."

Starting alongside Castroneves on the front row will be Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe, the 2011 Rookie of the Year so far easily managing to avoid the year two doldrums that some drivers struggle with, and instead showing increasingly strong pace.

"Obviously a great start for us to be on the outside of the front row. It's my best start and it's a great result after the way practice went yesterday," said the Canadian. "I knew we had good tires for the run and the pole. To miss it by half a tenth is just gutting, but it's a great start for us."

Castroneves and Hinchcliffe were easily the best-positioned drivers of their respective teams, with Penske's Will Power looking faster than anyone in round 2 but then getting caught out by a late red flag caused by Ryan Hunter-Reay spinning in turn 9.

"It's a pretty frustrating qualifying result," admitted Power. "I know IndyCar threw the red flag there but I'm not sure why they didn't allow our fast lap. It's definitely going to be tough starting ninth tomorrow, but we know we've got a fast car. We have to have a good start and be strong on the restarts and hopefully work our way up front."

"I got too greedy," explained Hunter-Reay of this accident that triggered the red flag. “It's completely my fault. There's a fine line between hero and zero in qualifying.”




Related Pictures

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Helio Castroneves in the #3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet during pre-season testing at Sebring. March 2012. [Photo Credit: Michael Levitt - LAT for IndyCar Media]
Helio Castroneves celebrates after winning the pole position and displays the pole prize cheque for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on March 31 2012. [Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt. LAT Photo USA]
Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Briscoe go wheel-to-wheel during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power sits on pit lane prior to the evening Open Test session at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand prior to track activity during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The field scatters as the drivers avoid the cars of Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Briscoe at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon and the #9 Target Chip Ganassi team celebrate after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud on the podium after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 24, 2014, winning the IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 24, 2014, winning the IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag Sunday, August 24, 2014 to win the IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 24, 2014, winning the IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power on pit lane prior to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on pit lane prior to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)

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