Chew on this one for a second: Helio Castroneves, no longer driving for Team Penske, will have a shot at his fifth pole position Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Tony Kanaan, without a victory since 2014 at Fontana, qualified third fastest Saturday as the “old men” shined at their favorite track.
The 46-year-old veterans from Brazil pretty much stole the show at IMS by putting their experience and talent to work and no doubt surprising a lot of their younger competition.
Castroneves scored all three of his Indianapolis wins and four poles driving for The Captain from 2000-2019, but hitched his wagon with Meyer Shank Racing last year and seems to have a found a comfortable home.
“Qualifying went exactly how we practice it yesterday and we were actually a bit quicker than we anticipated — which was perfect,” he said after winding up sixth out of the 35 qualifiers in his Auto Nation/Sirius XM Honda. “Our goal was to get in the top nine so we could have a shot at the pole and we did that.
“Tomorrow is a different day, though, and we’ll work to find some more speed overnight and be back at it tomorrow.”
Kanaan has been an “oval only” driver the past two years but reuniting with Chip Ganassi’s team has been a godsend.
“It’s my first time in the Fast Nine and pretty cool to be here,” said the 2013 Indianapolis winner. “The team did a stellar job of preparing the cars and I remember last year … we were on the other side. Tomorrow is a whole different day, but it’s good to know I’m locked in.”
— Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) May 22, 2021
Sharing the No. 48 car with NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson, T.K. had quick time in practice at Texas but qualifying was scrubbed so he had to start from the rear. No such problem come May 30th.
“We’re just here to win the race,” said Kanaan. “I know what Scott (Dixon)’s got and I know what I’ve got, so we’re going to play it out. It’s not going to be about tomorrow, who is ahead of who — it’s about who is going to win the race. The team has that mentality as well, and we’ve got four great chances.”