Power nips Hunter-Reay for Long Beach pole
Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending champion here in Long Beach, turned a fast lap of 1m09.1409s that was the fastest lap of the weekend and looked good for pole position in the final round of IndyCar qualifying.
"That was definitely a tough one," said Power, who's finished second and third the past two years in the 85-lap race. "I know how fast Hunter Reay is around here from the race last year. He's bloody hard to beat. It's going to be a tough race, but qualifying the way we did I think we put ourselves in the best possible position.
“That was a very difficult qualifying session. It’s important to start up front here. We’ve just got to be smooth and clean on the double-file restarts. I think everybody is learning how to deal with that. We should be better this weekend.”
The Australian also won the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2008, when the race was sanctioned by the Champ Car World Series.
"It's one of my favorite tracks," Power said of the 1.97-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street course. "I love it around here."
Hunter-Reay's teammate Mike Conway was third just ahead of Oriol Servia, Justin Wilson and Helio Castroneves.
This is Power's third consecutive pole of the season, and 19th of his IndyCar career. Power has won his 10th pole in the last 12 road course starts. Clearly he is a step better than all the rest.
The pole is also the 199th pole for Penske Racing in IndyCar style racing and the 398th all-time pole for the team in all forms of racing, a significant statistic for sure.
Ryan Briscoe, who owned the fastest lap in practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, got hung up in traffic and couldn’t repeat his chart-topping lap in qualifying. Instead, he recorded a fast lap of 1:09.824 in the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda as he fell just short of earning his way into the final round of qualifying.
"The Penske Truck Rental car has been fast all weekend so it's tough to not make the Fast Six and fight for the pole,” said Briscoe. “We just didn't get a clean lap. A bunch of guys came out (of the pits) in front of me and we just missed the peak of the tires. The (Firestone alternate) reds went off quickly and we just missed it. It's so competitive out there, it doesn't take much. We've got some work ahead of us for the race tomorrow but we're feeling really confident with the car and we know we have the speed. We just need to get through the start and go from there."
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (Local Pacific Time):
8-8:15 a.m. - Firestone Indy Lights warm-up
9:15 - 9:45 a.m. - IZOD IndyCar Series warm-up
11 a.m. - Firestone Indy Lights Long Beach 100 (45 laps or 60 minutes), VERSUS (Live)
1:30 p.m. - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (85 laps), VERSUS (Live)
Final Fast Six
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, PEAK Performance Pole Award): "That was definitely a tough one. I think Ryan (Hunter-Reay) had me there right until the end. He had a left going that was pretty quick. I think he might have blown the last sector. But we worked very hard for that. I know how fast Hunter‑Reay is around here from the race last year. He's bloody hard to beat. You know, it's going to be a tough day tomorrow, but qualifying today I think we put ourselves in the best possible position."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda, qualified second): "It's good to be back in Long Beach. Obviously, I like this place. Pretty disappointed about the session with Will getting by by eight hundredths of a second. Kind of seems to tip his way lately. He's the man right now. But the best thing is it's a repeat of last year; we're starting second, and we won from there last year, so hopefully we can repeat. The guys can a great job preparing the cars. We've come with a little bit different of a car this year, developed it, and it's worked for us. It's been really good, and happy to see Mike up here, too. So things are heading in the right direction."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Window World Cares, qualified third): "I'm pretty happy, considering the last couple days have been difficult trying to get the car dialed in. It just seemed to come together in qualifying and pretty happy to be in the top three. Kind of wasn't expected coming into it, but it was a good job by the team over the last couple of days keeping their heads up and pushing hard all the time."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo/Newman Haas Racing, qualified fourth): "Everybody is pushing really hard. It's great, because I'm coming back stronger than ever and the team is in the same place. We're just pushing really hard, and every weekend you see how competitive it is out there. You blink one session, you're 15th. Briscoe himself, he was kind of the man to beat all weekend, and he's 12th. It just shows you have to keep pushing, and this morning that's what I was doing in practice, and I touched the wall, and quite hard, and the mechanics just were able to fix the car just like ‑‑ I left walking towards qualifying and they were still working on the car fixing it but I had no doubt that the car was going to be perfect. They're just great. They've been great at it for 20 years, and the car was perfect. Third row last weekend, second row this weekend, and just very happy that we keep moving forward."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, qualified fifth): "It was a very close qualifying session. I knew on my quickest lap I gave up some time in the turns so if I could fix that we would be right there and unfortunately I wasn't able to pull off the pole position. I want to thank my team and engineers because we made some changes before the second session that really helped me. Hopefully we can make a few more changes tonight and have a good race tomorrow. I was loose in the last qualifying group so if we can work that out, I can make it closer to P1 tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA of Southern California, qualified sixth): "It's been incredible. I have to say if you were to tell me today I would be here, I'd say, tell me another joke. It was certainly very tough. I have to thank my ‑‑ well, first of all, the AAA car has been actually difficult. We last raced in Barber where we were hitting from all over the place. But today to be in the top six is very nice. My engineer did an incredible job. That guy, I told him, go have the rest of the afternoon off, just have a piña colada, relax in the hot tub, because whatever you did, the second qualifying to put me in the top six, I don't know, but it worked."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified seventh): "We actually made the Target car a lot better today. It was a little too oversteery and I only got about 95 percent out of it. It was a little bit me and a little bit the car today as to why we didn't qualify better so hopefully we can make up for that tomorrow."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified eighth): "I was on my fastest lap and Power had already done his time and slowed down in front of me. We were going to be around two tenths up on our previous best time so its really unfortunate for the Target team today."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified ninth): "The track is good. Obviously, the Firestone reds are quite grippy, so the lap times jumped up a bunch. The Bowers & Wilkins car is good. We were in the hunt pretty much all weekend long. We just had a little balance issue going on the second reds and not even a tenth would have put us in the Fast 6. It's a bummer. I think we have a car to compete tomorrow and to try and get on the podium. We'll just have to execute everything, stay out of trouble in Turn 1, and survive all the attrition and we should be in greats shape."
TONY KANAAN (No. No. 82 GEICO - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, qualified 10th:
"It is a very tight field, so it was a very exciting qualifying. We got held up on our fastest lap so that cost a tenth which would have put us in the top-eight. From tenth to eighth is really not a big deal. I am excited for the race. I think it is going to be a great race. It is also nice to see all the fans showing up as usually here in Long Beach. Let's see what is going to happen tomorrow.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "Maybe we spoiled ourselves a little last week by getting inside top top-10. When I think of the fact that it's my first time in an Indy car on a street course and the troubles we had yesterday, I guess we can be too upset but I think we had more in the Sprott car. We set a really good time in Round 1 and tried to make a change to make the car better in Round 2 and it made it a little worse and still had the same lap time so I think if we had the same balance with the second set of red Firestone and found more time in myself, the car was quite good as Oriol proved. Congrats to him on a second row start; I think that's great. We did a reasonable job and being the top rookie in qualifying is nothing to frown upon but we definitely would have liked to be in the top-10. The speed was there and we just didn't put it together today. If you get a little bit of traffic from guys just trying to find a gap, it throws off the rhythm a bit. It's a long race tomorrow and we just have to get through those restarts and be there at the end."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "I am frustrated about our qualifying session. I believe the team made good progress through the weekend so I expected to be in the top-12. I think the way we worked this weekend was the start of something positive. It is the first time we have worked this way as a team and I think it is the right way. Long Beach is always an unpredictable race. I believe we will have a good pace in the race. The key will be to stay on track, stay clean and the race will come to you."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It was a tough qualifying session because we could not find the speed we needed. The alternate tire upset the balance and I simply could not go fast enough. I am disappointed. The last race we improved the car in the warm up on race day, so tonight we will review all the data we collected today and work hard to improve the car for tomorrow's race."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "It's the most aggressive qualifying run I've made in my life. We were in a very tough group, so I'm satisfied with the position we qualified. Of course I want to improve even more. But from the progress we've made since practice one to where we are now, we've done a great job. We'll continue working and looking towards the race."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing): "We did much better than last year but our objective was to advance to the second round of qualifying but it is so hard. Our car is good and I felt I put a good lap in but I guess everybody else did too. I'm really proud of the work everybody did here -the car was good, we improved a lot. And like in the past, we're better in the race, we'll get them in the race."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "The Venom car was good today and I'm confident that it had a lot more potential. I was on pace for a lap that would have locked up P6 when I brushed the wall and bent the suspension. I owe all the guys an apology because the car was capable of the Firestone Fast Six. Turn one is going to be crazy tomorrow so if we get through there we can put our heads down and go to work."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): "Obviously I'd like to be starting closer to the front tomorrow but it just didn't work out for us today. The frustrating part is that the GoDaddy.com car is better than our starting positions shows. Track position and strategy is going to be important during tomorrow's race and we'll do our best to make our way up through the field."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental): "The Penske Truck Rental car has been fast all weekend so it's tough to not make the Fast Six and fight for the pole. We just didn't get a clean lap. A bunch of guys came out (of the pits) in front of me and we just missed the peak of the tires. The (Firestone alternate) reds went off quickly and we just missed it. It's so competitive out there, it doesn't take much. We've got some work ahead of us for the race tomorrow but we're feeling really confident with the car and we know we have the speed. We just need to get through the start and go from there."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "It's pretty frustrating to get blocked like in qualifying, especially on a lap that truthfully I don't know if it would get in or not, but it was going to be a 69.8 or 68.9 and I think that would have got us through. To get blocked like that, so late in the lap. These guys are pros. They know what they are doing. They said they didn't see us, but as far as I'm concerned there's no excuse at this level. It's pretty disappointing because we've been working really hard on the Service Central car and we've been improving and didn't cut it, I guess."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and Novolog FlexPen): "I think that's my best qualifying performance of the year in terms of what I did behind the wheel, but it's not my best starting position. I think that's a testament to how close the competition is in the IZOD IndyCar Series. I know the Levemir and Novolog FlexPen car is quick for the race. If we can stay out of trouble and run all 85 laps, we'll be in good shape when the checkered flag flies."
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