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

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”