Team Penske’s Hélio Castroneves has claimed his fourth pole position of the season for tomorrow’s 200-lap ABC Supply 500-mile race at Pocono Raceway.

The Brazilian set an average speed of 220.530mph (354.908 kph) on the 2.5 mile ‘Tricky Triangle’ in his Shell V-Power sponsored #3 Penske Chevrolet entry.

His two-lap burst knocked teammate Simon Pagenaud from provisional pole. Earlier in the session, reigning IndyCar Series champion and fellow Team Penske runner Will Power had held provisional pole, but was demoted to third in the end to give the Penske powerhouses another 1-2-3 qualifying sweep.

“I was able to collect some information from (Power and Pagenaud) and at the end of the day we’re strong, we’re solid and I can’t wait for the race,” said Castroneves, who notched up his 45th career pole position in his 310th IndyCar appearance.

Qualifying was a disaster for the fourth Penske of series-long championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya, who will start from a lowly 19th and looks unlikely to claim a fifth career 500-mile oval win on Sunday.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet

Current championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya had a disastrous qualifying session and will start from 19th place.

“You can’t really know what’s going to happen. We’ve done a really good job all year, like everybody else, had ups and downs, and we’ll see what it brings,” said Montoya, who achieved a track two-lap qualifying record of 223.871 mph (360.285 kph) last year in July. He was some 6mph slower this year…

The Colombian might struggle to avoid further damage to what is an ever-reducing 9-point championship lead over Graham Rahal, who qualified an equal season’s best fifth-fastest in the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

“To get the Steak ‘n Shake Honda in the top five feels really good,” said Rahal, who won the thrilling MAVTV 500 on June 27, which was the previous Triple Crown 500-mile race of the season. “I definitely think the aero efficiency of the Chevy has an advantage over us here but my guys did a great job to get us a starting spot up front. We didn’t shoot for it all. I told them, ‘Let’s be conservative, let’s get some good laps and we’ll be alright.’

“I’ve got to make up some points and I think we can do it. We have to chase down Juan in the points. Obviously, qualifying didn’t go his way but Juan is one heck of a competitor and I know he will be there right on our heels.”

Josef Newgarden, a two-time winner this season at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and Toronto, qualified alongside Power on the second row of the grid in fourth his #67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet entry with an average of 220.141 mph (354.282 kph). Newgarden, who sits eighth in the championship, achieved his third top-five qualifying effort in four races.

The qualifying session was interrupted for 48 minutes for catch fencing repairs at Turn 3 after Charlie Kimball’s #83 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet-powered entry had a huge accident on his first flying lap.

His accident followed that of former GP2 Series driver and IndyCar rookie Stefano Coletti, who crashed his KV Racing Chevrolet at the same corner in the earlier practice session and did not participate in qualifying.

The 200-lap race gets underway at 2:37pm local time (GMT-4).

Grid Driver Team / Entry Avg Speed
1. Hélio Castroneves br Team Penske 220.530mph
2. Simon Pagenaud fr Team Penske 220.485mph
3. Will Power au Team Penske 220.398mph
4. Josef Newgarden us CFH Racing 220.141mph
5. Graham Rahal us Rahal Letterman Lanigan 220.118mph
6. Carlos Muñoz co Andretti Autosport 219.831mph
7. Justin Wilson uk Andretti Autosport 219.685mph
8. Ryan Hunter-Reay us Andretti Autosport 219.672mph
9. Takuma Sato jp A.J. Foyt Racing 219.578mph
10. Sébastien Bourdais fr KV Racing Technology 219.521mph
11. Scott Dixon nz Chip Ganassi Racing 218.969mph
12. Tony Kanaan br Chip Ganassi Racing 218.816mph
13. Tristan Vautier fr Dale Coyne Racing 218.596mph
14. Jack Hawksworth uk A.J. Foyt Racing 218.331mph
15. James Jakes uk Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 218.246mph
16. Gabby Chaves co Bryan Herta Autosport 218.152mph
17. Pippa Mann uk Dale Coyne Racing 217.372mph
18. Ryan Briscoe au Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 217.241mph
19. Juan Pablo Montoya co Team Penske 217.194mph
20. Sage Karam us Chip Ganassi Racing 216.401mph
21. Ed Carpenter us CFH Racing 216.315mph
22. Marco Andretti us Andretti Autosport 215.101mph
DNQ. Charlie Kimball us Chip Ganassi Racing no time
DNQ. Stefano Coletti mc KV Racing Technology no time

Image via IndyCar Series

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8