When Verizon IndyCar qualifying was all said and done, Helio Castroneves wore the Phoenix International King Speed crown.
On a day when it was well known that the old track record would be broken;it was broken thirteen times during the Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying session! Which means that more than half of the entire VICS field qualified faster than the old track record that was held by Arie Luyendyk of 19.608 seconds and a speed of 183.599!
In claiming the pole for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix Castroneves turned a lap of 19.0997 seconds with a speed of 192.324 mph. That performance by Castroneves is nearly 9 mph faster and almost .5 seconds faster that Luyendyk’s ten-year-old track record.
Winning the pole gives Castroneves 46 career pole positions, the fourth most in Indy car history, and 28 on ovals. The 2002 Phoenix race winner will lead the 22-car field to the green flag for the 250-lap race under the lights (8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).
“It’s an honor to be breaking the record, which has been holding for 20 years, and now we’re able to show that Verizon IndyCar Series cars are fast,” Castroneves said after receiving the crown in pit lane from former track record-holder Arie Luyendyk, now an INDYCAR race steward.
“The REV Group car was really on rails,” Castroneves said. “We came here in the preseason, we showed that and we kept going. The temperatures were really difficult because of the temperature and you’ve got to push to the limit, and we definitely pushed to the limit.
“My first lap was pretty good and the second lap was a little bit of a moments in Turns 3 and 4, which I was not expecting that. That’s probably why it was huge. But at the end of the day, we were able to put the No. 3 in the pole position and now have got to focus for tomorrow.”
With all the joy of a new track record, it was a rather rough day for three VICS drivers. There were three cars that were demolished all pretty much in the same impact point! This afternoon the middle turns 1 and 2 posed to be a big problem with three drivers. Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe and rookie Carlos Munoz all destroyed their primary race cars this afternoon, Munoz crashed during his qualifying run and a red flag condition existed until the crash could be cleaned up.