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LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) Helio Castroneves made Team Penske 3 for 3 in qualifying this season when he won the pole Saturday for the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Castroneves turned a lap at 1 minute, 7.1246 seconds to earn the top starting spot for the race Sunday on the temporary street course. It’s the second consecutive year Castroneves will start
from the pole at Long Beach, and second consecutive race. He also won the pole two weeks ago at Phoenix, and Penske teammate Will Power won the pole for the season-opening race at St. Petersburg.
In 2015, Penske drivers won the first five poles of the season.
”It shows that our team is very consistent,” Castroneves said. ”We are working together very hard.”
Scott Dixon, the winner at Phoenix, qualified second and was followed by Penske driver Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya and Power.
The fast six was comprised only of Chevrolet drivers – four from Penske, two from Chip Ganassi Racing – as Honda failed to advance a driver into the final round.
Issues with timing and scoring marred the qualifying session, and then a potential misinterpretation of the rules during the final round left Montoya annoyed.
First, Sebastien Bourdais failed to advance out of the first round because he failed to hit the timing and scoring loop before the clock expired. Then in the second session, a transponder went out and IndyCar had to review the final standings.
The review changed the fast six as Castroneves was put in the field and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who had been carrying the banner for Honda, was knocked out. Hunter-Reay was dropped from sixth to 11th after the review
IndyCar then moved the timing line to a different position on the track for the final round.
That session, though, was marred when Power ran too deep into Turn 9 and had to have his car pulled out. It caused a red flag, and IndyCar decided to give the remaining five drivers a chance at one more timed lap.
Montoya was adamant that was against the rules, and complained it dropped him from third to fifth on the starting grid.
Castroneves, who won at Long Beach in 2001 in the CART series, is fourth on the career list with 47 poles. He believes the last time he won back-to-back poles was a decade ago.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 10)