Castroneves wins third pole at Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS (May 9, 2009) — Helio Castroneves will start his ninth Indianapolis 500 from a familiar spot.

The Brazilian, who celebrates his 34th birthday on May 10, scored his third Indianapolis 500 pole position and Roger Penske’s record 15th pole position with a four-lap average speed of 224.864 mph (2 minutes, 40.0967 seconds cumulative time) on the 2.5-mile oval. It was the Brazilian’s 27th career IndyCar Series pole and his first of the season.

Teammate Ryan Briscoe made a late attempt to unseat Castroneves in the six-hour session, withdrawing his second-best qualifying time, but came up short (224.083). He’ll be in the middle of Row 1, with 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti (224.010) on the outside in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.

The first 11 spots of the 33-car field were set on Pole Day. Positions 12-22 will be set May 10.

Graham Rahal, making his second start, qualified fourth¬† in the No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. Reigning Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, the ’08 pole sitter, and Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan also will be on Row 2. Kanaan, whose initial attempt was disqualified because of a post-qualifying technical inspection infraction, bumped his way into the field with an hour left. He’s never started lower than sixth in his eight 500 Mile Races.¬†

Mario Moraes (223.331), driving the No. 5 KV Racing Technology-Votorantim car, qualified sixth, with Marco Andretti (223.114) and Will Power (223.078) also on Row 3.

Danica Patrick (222.882) will start 10th and Alex Lloyd 11th. Lloyd bumped Hideki Mutoh from the field with an attempt that ended one minute before the end of the day. Six different teams are represented in the 11 positions.