Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Helio Castroneves won the pole position for the first race in the IndyCar Series doubleheader weekend in Detroit, while Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified 21st after brushing the wall in Saturday morning's qualifying session.
Castroneves made a lap around Detroit's Belle Isle Park in 1 minute, 17.5362 second during the "Fast Six" final round of qualifying to earn the top starting position for the 70-lap race on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m. ET). It was the 39th career IndyCar pole win for Castroneves, including his third in Detroit. The Team Penske driver also became the sixth different pole winner in as many races this season.
Six days ago, Castroneves finished only 0.06 seconds behind Hunter-Reay in the Indy 500. Castroneves had the fastest laps in all three rounds of qualifying for the first Detroit race.
"The car is spectacular," Castroneves said. "The car that we had at Indy was amazing. It feels like the momentum carried right now to what we wanted."
Castroneves won back-to-back races in Detroit from 2000-01 when the event here was sanctioned by CART. The Brazilian has not scored a victory in IndyCar since June 2013 at Texas (17 races ago).
The left-rear of Hunter-Reay's No. 28 Andretti Autosport car made contact with the wall during his second lap in Q1. He sustained damage to his car and had to return to the pits for repairs. Hunter-Reay took over the lead in the IndyCar point standings with his Indy 500 victory. He currently holds a 40- point advantage over second-place Will Power, who qualified 16th after he also hit the wall during his qualifying run.
"I was pushing in qualifying, and the left-rear snapped on me, just popped the wall," Hunter-Reay said. "I bent the left-rear. I was just out there trying to make it through and just overstepped a little bit on the slick street circuit."
James Hinchcliffe will start alongside Castroneves on the front row after posting a lap in 1:17.9788. Rookie Jack Hawksworth qualified third, while Mike Conway, who won the first race in last year's doubleheader in Detroit, took the fourth spot. Ryan Briscoe was fifth and Juan Pablo Montoya sixth.
During the second group in Q1, Simon Pagenaud received a penalty for interference with Montoya. Pagenaud, whose maiden IndyCar win came in last year's second race in Detroit, had his two quickest laps invalidated, which prevented him from advancing into Q2.
Pagenaud's No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports team was furious with the penalty and disputed it with IndyCar race officials. The penalty was not overturned. He will start 17th.