Helio Castroneves on pole for IndyCar Race 1 at Detroit

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Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves has captured the first pole of his Verizon IndyCar Series season after throwing down a Firestone Fast Six lap of 1:17.5362 this morning at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park.

The Brazilian, who was denied his fourth Indianapolis 500 crown last weekend by Ryan Hunter-Reay, will be joined on the front row for today’s Race 1 of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit by Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe.

70 laps of hard racing is coming up this afternoon on the 13-turn, 2.36-mile Belle Isle street circuit, but that didn’t stop Castroneves from having a joyful celebration upon capturing the pole.

“The car is spectacular,” Castroneves told IndyCar Radio. “Even brushing the wall a little bit Montoya-style, it feels great. The car is on rails, man! It is awesome!

“The car we had in Indy was amazing, and it feels like the momentum has carried right now, like we wanted.”

The pole also brought him a bit closer to open-wheel history, as Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star tweeted:

Meanwhile, Hunter-Reay will have a long climb ahead of him in today’s first race of the Detroit doubleheader.

The American driver has had a whirlwind week of media duties after defeating Castroneves in a Brickyard classic, but today on Belle Isle, he brushed the wall and bent the rear suspension on his No. 28 DHL Honda during the first round of qualifying.

That little mistake will have him lining up 21st on the grid for Race 1.

Several other big names will be starting toward the rear of the field as well, including Simon Pagenaud, one of the winners in last year’s doubleheader here.

Pagenaud was called for qualifying interference on Juan Pablo Montoya during the first round and lost his two fastest laps in that round.

That was enough to keep him from advancing to Round 2, and he and his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team vociferously argued against the call. SPM general manager Rob Edwards tweeted the following afterwards:

source:

Going back up front, Bryan Herta Autosport rookie Jack Hawksworth will line up on Row 2 alongside the other Detroit winner from one year ago, Mike Conway, who’s back in the car for Ed Carpenter Racing this weekend.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ryan Briscoe was also strong enough to get into the Firestone Fast Six, and he was able to post the fifth-fastest time. He’ll start on the inside of Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya in Row 3.

Here’s the full qualifying results for today’s race, which will take the green flag shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET (check local listings)…

CHEVROLET INDY DUAL IN DETROIT – RACE 1
Belle Isle Park
Qualifying results

1. 3-Helio Castroneves, 1:17.5362 seconds, 109.110 mph
2. 27-James Hinchcliffe, 1:17.9788, 108.491
3. 98-Jack Hawksworth, 1:18.0731, 108.360
4. 20-Mike Conway, 1:18.3015, 108.044
5. 8-Ryan Briscoe, 1:18.8098, 107.347
6. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya, 1:19.7296, 106.109
ELIMINATED, ROUND 2
7. 11-Sebastien Bourdais, 1:17.9806, 108.489
8. 10-Tony Kanaan, 1:18.0200, 108.434
9. 15-Graham Rahal, 1:18.0355, 108.412
10. 9-Scott Dixon, 1:18.0630, 108.374
11. 34-Carlos Munoz, 1:18.1450, 108.260
12. 18-Carlos Huertas, 1:18.4772, 107.802
ELIMINATED, ROUND 1
13. 17-Sebastian Saavedra, 1:18.3622, 107.960
14. 67-Josef Newgarden, 1:18.5309, 107.728
15. 14-Takuma Sato, 1:18.3689, 107.951
16. 12-Will Power, 1:18.6807, 107.523
*17. 77-Simon Pagenaud, 1:18.4709, 107.811
18. 25-Marco Andretti, 1:18.8743, 107.259
19. 19-Justin Wilson, 1:18.5181, 107.746
20. 83-Charlie Kimball, 1:19.1176, 106.929
21. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 1:19.8292, 105.976
22. 7-Mikhail Aleshin, 1:19.6300, 106.241
*Penalized two fastest laps for interference

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.