Belle Isle Pole Belongs To Castroneves

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Helio Castroneves has earned the pole for Saturday's first Verizon IndyCar Series race at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Mich. (Al Steinberg Photo)
Helio Castroneves has earned the pole for Saturday's first Verizon IndyCar Series race at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Mich. (Al Steinberg Photo)
Helio Castroneves has earned the pole for Saturday’s first Verizon IndyCar Series race at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Mich. (Al Steinberg Photo)

DETROIT – The streets of Belle Isle have always been special to Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves. He scored his first victory here in 2000, backed it up with a win from the pole in 2001 and scored another pole in 2007.

On Saturday morning, Castroneves once again ruled the streets of Belle Isle by winning the pole for Saturday afternoon’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Castroneves overcame a drive through penalty for leaving his pit box before the green flag waved to whip off a fast lap of 1:17.536 around the 13-turn, 2.36-mile temporary street course at Belle Isle Park in a Chevrolet.

“Detroit has always been special to me and today is another example of that,” Penske said after claiming the pole. “Now we go back and get the car ready for today’s race.”

Canada’s James Hinchcliffe was second quick in a Honda for Andretti Autosport with a fast lap of 1:17.978 followed by impressive British rookie Jack Hawksworth’s 1:18.073 in a Honda. Defending race winner Mike Conway was fourth at 1:18.301 in a Chevrolet followed by Chevy driver Ryan Briscoe’s 1:18.809 and Juan Pablo Montoya’s 1:19.729, also in a Chevrolet.

Simon Pagenaud, who won the second doubleheader race at Detroit last year, was red-flagged for impeding Montoya in the first qualification session and starts way back in 17th place.

Last week’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay, made contact with the turn 11 wall and damaged the left rear of his Dallara/Honda. He will start 21st in the 22-car field that takes the green flag Saturday at 3:50 p.m. E.T.