INDIANAPOLIS -- Roger Penske made the right call yesterday and Helio Castroneves rewarded his car owner with another Indianapolis 500 pole.
Penske, whose elite team has won 14 poles and 14 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- both records -- watched and waited while all the other contenders for the top spot in the May 27 race made early qualifying runs.
Dario Franchitti, one of five entries for Andretti Green Racing, posted a four-lap, 10-mile average of 225.191 miles per hour during an early flurry of qualifying and then stood by for five hours before two-time Indy winner Castroneves finally knocked him off the top spot in the final five minutes of the first of four days of time trials, earning his second Indy pole.
Under Indy's new qualifying procedure, each driver was allowed up to three chances to qualify on the opening day. That meant everyone had to make decisions when to go, whether to sit on an early qualifying effort or withdraw that speed and try again.
Yesterday's session started at noon and Penske, waiting for the cooler temperatures of late afternoon, sent Castroneves out for a qualifying run just after 4 p.m.
His 224.988 was good enough for fourth at the time.
Castroneves, whose team made a gear change in the interim, took to the track again, withdrawing his earlier speed.
There was no question the second time, with four laps ranging from 225.652 to 225.920 adding up to an average of 225.817 and the top spot.
Only 11 drivers locked in starting spots yesterday, with 11 more to be determined today, 11 more next Saturday and then a final session to allow for the possibility of bumping out the slowest drivers next Sunday. The 33 fastest cars will start the race.