Penske pair dominate qualifying

Penske's Brazilian duo Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran dominated qualifying for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca

Penske pair dominate qualifying

Having set the pace in testing at the venue in August, and in Friday's first qualifying session, such a result was always on the cards, and the team duly delivered.

Team boss Roger Penske dedicated the result to the late Gonzalo Rodriguez. The Formula 3000 star was having his second outing with the team when he was killed in a freak accident at this event a year ago.

"It's where we needed to be if you saw how down we were last year after Gonzalo's accident," Penske said. "You can't bring him back, but this is a tribute to his memory."

It is the third time this season that Penske's Reynard-Honda's have taken both front row spots, following on from similarly crushing performances at Portland and Mid-Ohio. On both occasions, the team went on to take victory in the races, with de Ferran at Portland and Castroneves at Lexington.

"I hope it will be just like Mid-Ohio again," said Castroneves afterwards. "Marlboro Team Penske did a fantastic job and I'm very proud of them."

Both cars had several off course excursions during the first two days of the event, and Castroneves acknowledged that this had been no cakewalk.

"We just have to keep working hard because this series is so tough," he said. "Nobody is cruising around here, we have to go as fast as we can."

Despite the tight Andretti Hairpin often being the scene of a first lap accident at Laguna, Castroneves said he was not even considering the possibility of a team incident at the start.

"Gil and I know each other very well and we're looking at being there at the end of the race," he said. "We're going to make sure it's a clean start."

De Ferran is the only one of the five main title contenders to qualify in the top ten, giving the Brazilian a golden opportunity to take the points lead. However, he refused to get over-confident about his title chances.

"It's a shame we didn't get the point for pole because that would've been useful for the championship," he admitted. "I'm taking nothing for granted. I just have to get as good a start as possible and then see what we can do tomorrow."

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