DETROIT – Helio Castroneves won his IndyCar Series-record Saturday seventh pole of the season Saturday at Belle Isle, edging Dario Franchitti for the top spot in the 18-car field for Sunday’s Detroit Indy Grand Prix.
Castroneves, who averaged 103.401 mph, broke Billy Boat’s 1998 record of six pole position victories in a season and added to his series record total of 23.
Series points leader Scott Dixon qualified third, and Tony Kanaan rounded out the second row. Rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth, followed by Marco Andretti.
With two races left, Dixon and Franchitti are separated by four points for the series championship, while Kanaan is in third-place, 62 points off of the lead.
Castroneves took exception to the idea that he and the rest of the field are content to go through the motions.
“I don’t care if they are fighting for a championship,” Castroneves said. “They have got to be careful of me because I am going to go for it.”
The pole win is only the latest of Castroneves’s successes in Detroit. The Brazilian won his first IndyCar race on Belle Isle in 2000, and followed up with another victory in 2001. Sunday’s race will be the first IndyCar race the city has hosted in six years, and Castroneves will be vying for a third straight win.
Franchitti, who will start in the front row for the fourth consecutive weekend, noted the difficulties of the 14-turn, 2.125-mile course.
“It’s a typical street course, but it’s really bumpy,” the Scot said. “It beats you up physically and mentally. Passing will be difficult and after the last three weeks, I don’t want to make any mistakes.”