Castroneves Gets the Pole (And a Fancy Watch For His 20 Years) in Phoenix

Thursday night, IndyCar threw a wonderful celebration of Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves’s 20 years with IndyCar, complete with digs at the two drivers and a beautiful, customized watch gift from Tag Heuer.

Castroneves then gave himself a little extra present Friday with the fastest average lap of qualifying at 194.905 MPH, giving him the pole for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix taking place later this evening under the lights in Avondale, Arizona.

Qualifying went rather smoothly. Worth mentioning is J.R. Hildebrand’s return to the track after being cleared to race this weekend following  an injury sustained in Long Beach from a collision with Mikhail Aleshin (who also made contact with Kanaan earlier in that race). He broke up what looked to be a Penske 1-4 starting grid, qualifying 3rd.

Maybe the trick to doing really well is damaging a hand?
(*Note Josef Newgarden’s spectacular win in Iowa after his crash in Texas that injured his right hand and clavicle….)

IndyCar will be racing under the lights starting at 9:00 p.m. EST, 6:00 p.m. Pacific.

Starting grid for tonight’s race:
Row 1: Helio Castroneves, Will Power
Row 2: J.R. Hildebrand, Josef Newgarden
Row 3: Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan
Row 4: Mikhail Aleshin, Scott Dixon
Row 5: Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais
Row 6: James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay
Row 7: Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball
Row 8: Alexander Rossi, Ed Jones
Row 9: Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato
Row 10: Carlos Munoz, Conor Daly
Row 11: Ed Carpenter

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