ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Helio Castroneves has yet to win a Verizon IndyCar Series championship, but his name will be all over the Indy car record book when he retires.
His latest achievement was the 50th pole of his career after he won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America.
His fast time of 1:41.3007 around the 4.14-mile, 14-turn Road America Road Course knocked teammate Will Power off the pole after Power clocked in at 1:41.3611.
The 50th pole of his career breaks a tie with Bobby Unser for third on the all-time list. Only Mario Andretti (67) and A.J. Foyt (53) have more poles in Indy car history.
“I cannot take the credit by myself,” Castroneves said. “If I didn’t have Will Power, Josef Newgarden or Simon Pagenaud onboard, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I know sometimes you guys think, ‘C’mon, you share information, but you still have to lay down a lap.’
“We learn so much from each other, it’s actually a benefit for the team and benefit for the drivers. Sometimes some people don’t accept to continue learning. I guess I prefer taking the different route.
“I might not win my championship yet, but I still learning. Maybe with those results that we are having, we might put ourselves in a situation that we’re going to win.”
Josef Newgarden was the third Team Penske driver in the 1-2-3-4 sweep with a lap at 1:41.6608 and defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud was fourth at 1:42.0385.
All four Team Penske drivers are in Chevrolets.
“It’s definitely important to start up front,” Power said. “It will be an interesting race. If it’s all green (flag), there will be a lot of fuel saved. I’m really happy to be on the front row.
“Obviously to be clipped by the old guy just there on the line, 6/100ths. He gets faster as he gets older, like wine, matured.
“It’s a good day for the team. Very, very good day. We just got to be good in the race tomorrow and collect some points.”
Newgarden’s third-place start is the best of his career at the 4.14-mile, 14-turn Road America course.
“You’d rather be surrounded by your teammates than other people you might not be able to trust as much,” Newgarden said. “We’ll try to take care of each other as best as we can, then race each other. We’re still going to race, which is great.
“We’ve all been fast all weekend. We knew it was going to be tough to beat us top four. What is good, we’ve kind of had the top four spots with all of us all weekend. We wanted to make sure we continued that in qualifying and the race. Luckily, we didn’t really drop in performance, so that was good.
“I was happy for the whole group. Happy for Helio. I wanted to beat him, but I’m happy for him, getting his 50th pole. It’s good for the team.
“It’s good that we’re surrounded by people we know and can trust. We can work from there to try to win the race.”
Pagenaud’s fourth-place starting position ties his career best at Road America.
“We seemed to have missed it in the Fast Six,” Pagenaud said. “I was pretty happy with the car in Q1 and Q2. But on the new set of red Firestone tires, Fast Six, we had no grip. I’m not quite sure what happened there. But we tried.
“I feel like we have a very good racecar. It’s not what I expected, quite frankly. I thought we had a lot more pace. But I don’t know. The tires didn’t work. I wanted them to work. It did what it did.
“It’s a long race. Lots of time management tomorrow in the race so a lot can happen. We’ll see.”
There isn’t anyone Castroneves loves to race more than his teammates because he expects a fair fight from start to finish.
“Right now we just got to go,” Castroneves said. “Will, in the racetrack, I understand he’s my teammate outside, but when we inside, he’s just another driver. I’m going to do everything I can to run my race and stay in the position to try to win.
“He definitely is a challenge. He’s phenomenal. He is able to put most of the times a phenomenal lap. But not today.”
Honda driver Scott Dixon was fifth at 1:42.9308 and Graham Rahal rounded out the Firestone Fast Six at 1:45.0464.
“Obviously, the Penskes are on another planet,” Rahal said. “But we’ll take the fight to them tomorrow.”