Castroneves predicts 235mph Indy 500 qualifying laps with new engines

Penske's Helio Castroneves believes Indianapolis 500 pole lap speeds could exceed 235mph when the IndyCar series introduces its new engine that is predicted to produce more than 900bhp

Castroneves qualified sixth fastest for Sunday's Indianapolis 500 with a four-lap average speed of 228mph, while Ed Carpenter - who recorded his third Indy 500 pole - was the only driver to lap above 230mph in 'Fast Nine' qualifying.

New engines to be introduced in 2021 are set to feature a 2.4-litre twin-turbo V6 powerplant with an initial goal of 900bhp, which could rise to 1000bhp by 2026 as a result of year-on-year development.

IndyCar has used 2.2-litre turbocharged engine's producing between 550bhp and 700bhp since it switched to its IR12 chassis at the start of 2012.

"When you're talking about 900bhp, the 230mph [lap] is probably going to be the midfield", said Castroneves.

"You're going to start talking about 234mph, 235mph. It's huge. It's great that opportunity.

"You're definitely going to have some lifting like there used to be a long time ago. It will change the way you perform here."

Two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk holds the lap record at Indianapolis, with an average of 237mph set in 1996.

Qualifying speeds were in the 220-230mph range from 2004-'13 until Carpenter broke the 230mph barrier in '14.

That marker was also beaten twice in the past three years. The new engine development is part of IndyCar's campaign to attract a third manufacturer to the series, and testing will start in the summer of 2020 ahead of its debut for the '21 season.

Three-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves is competing in this weekend's race as a one-off after switching to Penske's new IMSA SportsCar Championship programme for 2018.

"I said it before, I should have stick around," said Castroneves, who joined Penske in 2000 and has more Indycar wins for the team than any other driver.

"I'm definitely going to stick around. I'm going to be making friends, continue to be with Team Penske hopefully.

"But no question, it's a great opportunity."

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