Toronto: Wilson wins IndyCar pole shootout
Penske Racing's Will Power will start 2nd ahead of his teammate Helio Castroneves.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchitti rounded out the top-5. Hunter-Reay's 4th is his best qualifying effort since Long Beach in mid-April.
"It was a good effort. Fourth - we can work from there," said Hunter-Reay. It was very tight today, just as all the qualifying sessions have been this year on road and street circuits. (Justin) Wilson saved his set of reds for the end and that was the move of the day, for sure. We weren't able to do that; we had to move on and take each step as it came."
Wilson, who said yesterday that he knew what changes had to be made to his car to put it up front today and true to his word, he was fastest in this morning final practice session and then when it counted he put the car on pole in the fast-6 final qualifying session.
This ends Team Penske's streak of 8 straight pole positions. When asked how it felt to finally end Penske's streak Wilson said, "Yes, it feels good, somebody had to finally do it. Will Power always seems to be able to pull out a fast lap when it counts so it feels good to make him feel what it's like to finish 2nd.
"I know this track and I know what I need to do to go fast here. You have to know what corners to focus on. I also know which way not to go here, corners to focus on that actually make you go slower (for the full lap) so experience definitely helps."
â€śAfter the difficulties at Watkins Glen (lost four spots to finish 10th) and Iowa (dropped 13 positions to finish 24th), itâ€™s been tough. Weâ€™ve been working so hard, trying to stay focus and stay on track and not go off on a tangent."
Wilson is not worried if it rains tonight and the rubber gets washed off the track surface. "We were fast on Friday when the track was green and we were fast as it got rubbered in. A well balanced car is a well balanced car. We just can't make any mistakes on Sunday and we have to make sure we get good fuel mileage, that is where Penske and Ganassi excel, getting that extra lap out of a tank full of fuel."
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues July 18 with the Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 12:30 p.m. (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Toronto 100 on July 18 on the streets of Toronto.
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): "It's great. We've had a couple of tough races so to come back and get the pole here is just fantastic. Everyone at Dreyer and Reinbold has worked so hard. I'm very pleased for Z-Line Designs. It's a good weekend so far. We have to keep it up. We'll keep pushing for the race. It's easy in this stage to sit back and relax, but we have a lot of work to do. It's great that this is the team's second career pole and I want to get their second career win. That's the big picture we're looking at but this is a great moment. After the difficulties at Watkins Glen and Iowa, it's been tough. We've been working so hard, trying to stay focus and stay on track and not go off on a tangent."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, second): "We definitely got the car better for qualifying today, but Justin was very quick and tough to beat. I am not sure I could have beaten him this time. I know I made a mistake at the end of my lap, but that was a tough qualifying session and I am exhausted. I feel good about tomorrow; I am not sure what will happen with the weather. Rain always stirs things up, but we will take it as it comes."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, fourth): "I am a little disappointed after yesterday being such a good day. We are P4; I missed P3 by two-hundredths of a second. It was a tight day, but its good being fourth and we can work from here. Justin saved red tires for the end and that was the move of the day. We couldn't beat him after that. "
PAUL TRACY (No. 15 Make A Wish -KV Racing Technology): "I really don't know what happened in qualifying. The car wasn't handling right. There was something drastically wrong with it. Now, that we are back at the truck, we found something wrong with the car's setup. It is very disappointing. It's too bad it happened during qualifying. The car just didn't do what we wanted. It was strange because I couldn't figure out why the car was feeling so weird. It didn't perform like that on Friday and earlier on Saturday. So, now we'll have to start from the back and drive our way up the field."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified third): "It was exciting, we didn't know if the rain was coming or not. So we decided to keep going as fast as we could. We certainty had the car to get up there, but we just wanted to play it safe and to be in the top six. But in the top three is certainly a good position to win a race from."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Air Wick): "I normally wouldn't be happy with my position, but after practice yesterday and today, I'm very happy to be in the position I am in. In the qualifying segment, I thought I had run some of my best laps ever here, but, unfortunately, when it came to the Fast Six we had already used our reds, but we are in the top six which is a really good position to win the race from."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "I thought the session went pretty smooth, this track can be quite frustrating at times, being so bumpy, but I thought it went very well, and I'm happy to be in the position that I'm in."
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): "I was surprised how slippery the track was today. I just couldn't get the grip that I needed to put in a good lap. I love the Toronto track and I was expecting a good run after our top-five race at Watkins Glen. So I am disappointed with the qualifying run. We'll work hard overnight to improve the car for the race. Started back in the field is difficult, but Paul (Tracy) showed last year that you can come from the back and race at the front. That will be our goal."
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA - Jet Aviation - KV Racing Technology): "Everyone with the No. 8 car felt like we would have a good car after the morning practice when we were P2. When we put on the other tires for qualifying, we had a huge understeer and we couldn't keep up the pace with the other drivers. I thought we had the speed to be in the top-three in the first qualifying session since we had done it earlier. It is difficult to understand because the car was so good before qualifying. Now, we'll have to get the race car prepared for warm-up on Sunday and find the speed once again."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing): "I'm a little disappointed because I thought we would make it into the fast six today. Unfortunately the crash early on hurt us. I give all the credit to the HP McAfee team for putting the car back together and getting us ready for qualifying. As hopeful as I was that we'd make the fast six, 11th is still a good result. It will be a long race tomorrow. We just need to be smart with our strategy and run a clean race.
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "It shows the strength of the team when you see that we never give up and work as hard as the National Guard Panther guys do because we've definitely improved the car a lot for qualifying. Looking forward to the race we'll continue to work in the direction that we did for qualifying because we made a significant step forward that was very encouraging. We still have the warm-up (practice) tomorrow to continue what we're doing and I think we'll have a very good race."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus - KV Racing Technology): "It's a very disappointing day for us. Toronto is a tough venue, but we made steady progress in the practice sessions. However, in qualifying, it looked like I was fast enough to move into the Q2 session but a mechanical failure caused me to stop on track. This resulted in a penalty and I lost my two fastest laps. Nevertheless, we'll work on the car in the morning warm-up and be ready for the race tomorrow."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "I think the Venom car is good, it just wasn't as good as we wanted it to be. We're still missing it a bit on set-up, but I was pleased to make it out of the first round. We're starting inside the top ten in a very competitive field - anything could happen tomorrow."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven/Nestle Pure Life): "Qualifying was so close today and it always is. I missed making the Firestone Fast Six by four-thousandths of a second. But, it is what it is. Nowadays, that is what makes this series so hard and so exciting. We can definitely do it tomorrow. We've done it from 15th, so why can't we do it from eighth?"
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): "I was pleased with our qualifying run today. It was great to advance out of our group, which had a lot of good cars in it. Today was a good step in the right direction. I'm happy with the GoDaddy car and hopefully we can have a decent day tomorrow."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co/A.J. Foyt Racing): "We have to figure out what happened in qualifying still. Definitely something that affected the brakes a lot happenedâ€”we know it's happening but we don't know where it's coming from yet. Before that everything was great, the car unloaded good, it was fast. I was able to learn the track fast, the car was up to it, the team's doing a great job, we just have to find what went wrong in qualifying. There's only one worst time to have a problem and that's in the race. It's going to be a tough day out there but in this position, it's easy to gamble."
Final Round Qualifying
Post Qualifying Press Conference
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the Fast Six press conference. Justin Wilson is the polesitter for tomorrow's Honda Indy Toronto. This is Justin's first IZOD IndyCar Series pole and a new IZOD IndyCar Series track record.
Will Power qualified second. His third consecutive front row start. This is Power's and Dario's top five start of the season.
Helio Castroneves will start third.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, best start since Long Beach, and we have Scott Dixon.
Second place, Will, can you give us your impression of your place, your ranking, what to expect for tomorrow.
WILL POWER: After practice I'm pretty happy with second place. It's a strange track. You got really fast on some used tires. Justin (Wilson) made an incredibly quick time in the Fast Six and was tough to beat.
There's a little mayhem in turn one and three. I think we'll have a good race tomorrow. I'm not sure if it's going to rain or what the weather is going to be. That will mix things up if it happens. We just got to be solid, keep getting these points and beat all these guys here.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, we'll ask the same for you.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, certainly to follow up on what William or Billy Power said (laughter). Certainly the track helps a lot on old tires. For us, we ended up being more safe by taking a chance using our second sets of reds on qualifying. We could have taken a chance and gone for the pole position. Sometimes, with these kinds of conditions so close, it's better to start third than seventh.
We're quite happy with the balance of the car, especially on the long runs.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan Hunter-Reay, tell us how things have evolved, already once on the podium this weekend.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: We're a little disappointed with fourth. I was hoping for a front-row start. We can work from fourth. These street and road course qualifying sessions have been so intense in IndyCar. The competition this year, it's so much fun to finally have it back to where it should be. I remember a few years ago you put in a good lap, you thought it was good enough. Now you put in a good lap, you know it's not good enough, you cannot dig deep enough.
It's good to be up here with these guys. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a clean race and get a lot of passing done. Long straights, get down in the hairpin and make it a good show for the fans.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, tell us about your run today and how you feel.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Normally wouldn't be happy with fifth, but had a difficult practice yesterday. It's a great turnaround by the guys at Team Target to get the cars up there. Each of the qualifying segments, I felt like they were some of my best laps ever around here.
Unfortunately, when it came to the Fast Six, we had already used our reds, much like Helio said, to make sure we got ourselves in the Fast Six, or give ourselves the best chance to get in the Fast Six. It was as good as we could get.
I think Ryan's point was very well made. The competition level is so tough. On the one hand it's a pain in the butt because you're constantly just pushing, pushing, but it's great for the IndyCar Series.
THE MODERATOR: Scott?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, the sessions, first one went pretty smooth. I think three of us in the top six used our red sets before the final qualifying. So that made it a little bit tougher.
But, yeah, this track, it's a ton of fun. When you have your cumulative set, up and down, up and down, up and down, it gets quite frustrating because the track is so technical and it's easy to make a little mistakes when you can be up a couple of 10ths.
Not too bad. I think sixth is still a good starting position for the Team Target, which is good. It's definitely a lot of hard work. With the competition being so close, I think it was a 10th of a second to third place today. It's definitely very tight, but I'm pretty happy.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, questions.
Q. Dario, when you won here in '99, you started second. Last year you won from the pole. How difficult is it going to be to try to defend your championship from fifth?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's going to be very tough, not only because of the qualifying position but because of the competition as well. It's so difficult for this track anyway. Like Scott said, very technical, very easy to make a mistake.
Fighting against these guys, it's going to be a tough day. We hope we can do that. That's why we're here. Team Target, we'll see what we can do.
Q. How much are you guys driving blind around here in terms of which corner is really the worst in terms of going into a blind corner?
WILL POWER: Six.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: But that's part of the fun of street course racing, figuring out what's on the other side of it, figuring out the line.
Q. What is it about Turn 6 that is so difficult?
WILL POWER: It's jagged. I think (Raphael) Matos hit it in practice. It's hard to judge how close you can go.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Especially with the sponsor logos. It's a funny color and difficult to see the wall. Easy to do what Matos did. Long wall. You're in it for a ton of time. Three quarters of the way through it you can see the exit, but by that time you've committed to full throttle.
Q. Dario, you talk about tough competition, but these street races sometimes turn out to be fuel mileage events.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's part of the balancing act. I think looking at the fuel mileage we're getting with the Honda engine, I don't think tomorrow will be a fuel mileage race. I think in the past you could take an extreme strategy, but I don't see that right now.
Q. Helio, you talked about running a safe lap in qualifying. Last year you weren't able to finish. What are you going to do differently? Are you going to keep it safe during the race or what do you have to do?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, I certainly want to stay away from P.T. (laughter). I'm sure he's going to try as hard as he can. I'm sure he will be there at the end of the race competing for the victory.
But, you know, top three. Seeing the way these guys are going, it's going to be a tough race. As Dario said, last year I was going for fuel strategy, when you have the opportunity to save fuel. Now everybody is in the same boat. It might be much harder to do something like that.
I don't think this year is going to forgive somebody that just is playing safe because it's so hard. You've got to push all the time, but stay out of trouble, otherwise somebody going to end up push you. It's a fun place. It's going to be tough. You can see everybody here, sweat. But hopefully it will be an exciting, fun race for everyone.
Q. Ryan, your team owner, Michael Andretti, won here several times. Has he given you any pointers on how to win here?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, he gave me some insights into a couple of the corners. Unfortunately I wasn't able to do the track walk on Thursday. But, yeah, he didn't come over and have a little session. He keeps to himself on his own. When you want to ask, we get it from him. He knows his way around here probably better than anybody. I got some insight on two corners.
THE MODERATOR: Polesitter for tomorrow's race, Justin Wilson. This is Justin's first IZOD IndyCar Series pole. His lap was a track record also. Congratulations.
Q. Justin, it seems to do well at this track you have to have some experience on it. When you won here in 2006, you started from the pole. In 2005 you finished third here. How much of that experience helps what you did today?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it's very useful to know what you're looking for in the car. I've experienced how to make the car work around here. I've experienced how to make it not work. I've made mistakes here. I've gone the one direction and not gotten the lap time you're expecting. It's hard to focus on what's going to give you the best results. I think it's the straights we're going to focus on.
Q. Can all of you talk about the car for 2012?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I haven't seen that much information about it. I think it's a little bit lighter, is that correct? If we could get the power up, that's good. I like the idea of the body being open. Good to get some more freedom in the suspension and the mechanical side of things. I think it's a step in the right direction.
I don't think we can take a short-term view of this. We'll know it's a success if we look two, three, four years down the road. Again, with one thing I said the other day when I was asked that question, you have to take your hat off to the delta wing guys. Obviously Chip (Ganassi), our boss, was involved in it. It got people thinking, concept car, coming up with some decent ideas again rather than being happy with the status quo.
Q. Justin, it's been a while since Dennis has won an IndyCar race. Tomorrow you're in a good place to get Dennis his first win. Talk about how you've been able to bring some of these back-of-the-pack teams up to the front.
JUSTIN WILSON: It's one step at a time. There's still a lot we can get caught out on tomorrow. We have to do our homework tonight. Make sure we understand the car, get the car to work on full tanks, red tires, black tires. We want the whole package.
You know, we'll just take it one step at a time. We have a good car now, but I don't want to get into the pattern of relaxing tonight, thinking we've done our job for the weekend. But still a long way to go.
I think we can find more speed yet. So the car is always going to be a handful around this track. It still is. It's just we have a little bit better handle than some of the others. But they're not going to sit still tonight. We have to work hard.
It would be great to get a win, but I'd say one step at a time.
THE MODERATOR: Your Firestone Fast Six for tomorrow. Have a good race tomorrow.
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