Helio Castroneves seemed fairly confident of capturing the pole for the 56th Rolex 24 At Daytona, taking the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 to pit roa with a few minutes remaining in the 15-minute session after running a lap of 1m36.090s.
With the checkered flag waving and Castroneves set to exit the Acura for a round of post-qualifying photos and interviews, Renger van der Zande knocked the popular three-time Indianapolis 500 winner off the pole by a fraction of a second – 0.007s to be exact – on his final lap in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.
The emotional Brazilian appeared crushed when he heard the news.
“I did everything I could,” Castroneves said. “Unfortunately, I just got beat by .007 seconds. Nothing you can do about that. It’s okay though, we looked strong.”
Castroneves will take the green flag at 2:40 p.m. Saturday on the outside of the front row in the Acura he shares with Ricky Taylor and Graham Rahal.
“The guys are going to have to fix a couple of things on the car because I was pushing it really hard,” he said. “But we are starting on the front row, which is a pretty big deal. It’s a good start for our team. We still have a lot of things to learn. But I’m really happy for Acura Team Penske and all of the guys. We’ve worked hard to get to this point and we have a few more practices to fine-tune it for Saturday.”