Penske: No qualms about pole battle

The Penske team said it did not have any second thoughts about letting its drivers withdraw their original qualifying speeds during Indianapolis 500 pole day so they could fight each other for pole position

Penske: No qualms about pole battle

After the first runs Penske duo Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves were first and third. But Castroneves wanted another shot at taking pole position - which he duly snatched from Briscoe.

Unhappy at losing the top spot, Briscoe then opted to forfeit the run that had given him second place to have another go at beating Castroneves. The gamble nearly backfired as Briscoe's second attempt proved slower, but his speed was just sufficient to still hang on to second ahead of Ganassi's Dario Franchitti.

Team boss Roger Penske said it was right to allow both drivers a second chance even though they risked falling out of the top 11 had anything gone wrong.

"Obviously, we've got a competitive team because Ryan wanted to have a go, which was obviously a tough call," said Penske.

"But (Helio) wanted to go and Ryan wanted to go, so we had to give each of them a chance, and we didn't want to lose those top two spots, but it worked out fantastic for the team.

"Prior to that we were in pretty good shape, certainly when Helio had run that lap. But these guys are competitive and Tim (Cindric) and I talked about it and said, 'Ryan, do you want to make a run?' He said he did.

"So we didn't say don't make it, we gave him the opportunity. It would have been the same if there had been time and Briscoe would have beaten Helio and he wanted to go, we would have done it again.

"So I think you've got to have that kind of momentum with a team and certainly people could look at it that we made a mistake, but these guys we count on are the best. When you're running at the level that the Ganassi team or any of the other teams are, we've got to give them that opportunity. That's why we're here."

Castroneves' pole came less than a month after he returned to racing following the not guilty verdict in his tax evasion trial.

"As I'm concerned, it's pretty special to see Helio on top because of his circumstances," said Penske. "But he didn't get it because we said, 'okay, Helio you're going to get it today.' He won it, he earned it, and Briscoe had a chance to get it, too."

The pole-winner said the result was a triumph for both himself and Briscoe.

"I could see in his face he was a little upset," said Castroneves. "He's a race car driver. You want to be the number one, it doesn't matter who it is.

"But Ryan and I being we worked together last year, and we help each other. We did seem to have a very similar driving style, especially on the ovals, and no question that helps both of us to develop the car to the limits so that both of us can be fast.

"Unfortunately, what I'm going to have, he's going to have. One day it's going to be my turn, one day it's going to be his turn. He's a first-class guy, he's an incredible race car driver, and that's the way it goes. One pushes each other, and the only one that's winning here is the team."

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