Originally created 08/21/05

Penske racers claim top spots



FOUNTAIN, Colo. - Helio Castroneves walked into the room with a huge grin, put one hand on Sam Hornish Jr.'s shoulder, then started pumping his fist.

Always excitable, Castroneves was thrilled that the Marlboro Team Penske Racing teammates had just earned spots on the front row for today's Honda Indy 225.

Of course, Castroneves probably should have expected it, the way he and Hornish have dominated the short ovals in the Indy Racing League circuit this season.

Castroneves earned his first pole in nearly two years, edging Hornish by 0.0023 seconds on Saturday for the team's third consecutive pole on short tracks. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner finished a lap around the mile tri-oval in 20.5218 seconds (175.423 mph), earning his first pole since October 2003 at Texas Motor Speedway.

"I feel better because you basically have to drive the car," Castroneves said. "At some of the other tracks, you're just along for the ride. I guess, especially at the short ovals, we've been working extremely hard and our best chance of seeing victory and running really, really fast is at those tracks.

"I'm very happy to see both cars sitting on the front row."

Rookie sensation Danica Patrick had the day's fastest practice time, finishing in 20.546 seconds during the second session. But when the temperatures cooled and the wind switched in qualifying, her team had trouble getting the setup right, ending up fifth at 20.6435 seconds.

"We weren't perfect on the gears, but we just used the information that we had and the car was strong," Patrick said. "We never know with the wind conditions and the cooler track if you make the right changes. But it was good and we'll get ready for the race."

FORMULA ONE: In Istanbul, Turkey, Kimi Raikkonen won the pole for the Turkish Grand Prix, with Michael Schumacher among the half-dozen drivers to slide off the twisting, dusty track at the series' newest venue.

Raikkonen, driving for McLaren-Mercedes, will be joined in the front row for the inaugural race today by Giancarlo Fisichella of Renault.

"It might be tricky tomorrow, but we'll see how it goes," Raikkonen said.

Fernando Alonso of Renault, the standings leader who is 26 points ahead of Raikkonen, is in the second row with Juan Pablo Montoya of McLaren.