Briscoe fastest, but Franchitti wins Long Beach pole
Franchitti was the only Honda powered car to make it into the Fast Six, and since all the rest were Chevy powered who were getting a ten grid penalty for changing engines before Long Beach, by default Franchitti would start on pole regardless of where he finished in the Fast Six.
He ended up 4th behind Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, but it will be Franchitti who will start from pole on Sunday.
Ryan Briscoe's lap of 1m08.6089sec was the fastest lap turned all weekend and it was just enough to nip his teammate Will Power for fast time. With the 10 grid penalty for all Chevy drivers, they will start 11th and 12th on Sunday.
Earlier this week, Chevrolet announced that it would change the engines in all of its entries before the Long Beach event following a problem discovered in the engine during testing last week at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. According IZOD IndyCar Series rules, all cars with unapproved engine changes will be docked 10 positions after qualifying.
It was the first pole at Long Beach for Briscoe, his previous best start was fourth in 2010. It was Briscoe's 12th career IZOD IndyCar Series pole.
Briscoe received the bonus point and prize money for winning the pole and after he finished second from a 12th place start at Long Beach in 2011, he is still very optimistic about his chances to win the race tomorrow.
“This pole position means a lot,” said Briscoe. “Now we have to come through the field and see if we can get a win on Sunday. We’re trying to reward the guys for all their hard work this season. It’s been absolutely flat-out with this new car and new Chevy engine. I’m so proud of all the work everybody has done. I just want to go out and drive the wheels off the thing.”
Starting on the outside of the front row on Sunday will be rookie Josef Newgarden who was fastest in the 2nd group of first round qualifying and 7th overall at the end of the day. He will move up to 2nd at the start after all the Chevy drivers are moved back.
Newgarden's performance this year as a rookie with a low budget Sarah Fisher Hartman team has been nothing short of sensational. Mature beyond his years, Newgarden appears to have a bright future ahead of him, and it will get real bright, real fast if he pulls off the win on Sunday.
POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, pole winner): "We've only done short stints so far, but I feel like the first step is having the pace, and we know we've got that, so that's definitely going to be a big help to us starting from 11th tomorrow. Last year we started 12th, and through strategy ended up leading a lot of laps in the race. So we're going to look at all of that. It's going to be tough - it's a really hard track to pass on, so we're going to have to do our best and see what we can do to get to the front."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, qualified second): "It was a battle in the Fast Six for sure, that was everything I had and we threw down a mega lap. Qualifying was important because we didn't want to end up 15th or 16th, but yeah so I'm sure we're going to make the best out of the situation and see where we can end up. Days like tomorrow will end up being really important for the championship, just trying to get as many points as possible and work hard at strategy."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet, qualified third): "It was OK, I expected a little bit more grip out there today but with only one session and 2 laps at a time here and it was tough to know what we really wanted out of the car, but it was the same for everybody, so. Tired of being that couple hundredths off of the Penske guys here, three years in a row now. Definitely wanted the pole despite the penalty we're going to take, and that was as good a chance as I've ever had, and we're going to start 13th I believe. So yeah it was a good day, but we wanted a lot more today and I'm pretty bummed about that."
DARIO FRANCHITI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, qualified fourth): In the Firestone Fast 6 we knew where we'd be starting regardless of what time we did, but we kind of wanted to earn it. We didn't quite have it in the car. So we'll go back tomorrow and we'll see what happens.
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO-PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, qualified fifth) "It was a very good qualifying here in Long Beach. All of the changes that have happened around me are starting to pay off now. I really like the way my crew has been working. There has been a great energy and definitely there are a lot of great things going all around my crew. I am very happy to be so fortunate to be working with this bunch of great guys. The qualifying went pretty smooth….pretty much as we had planned. We had a fast car, a stable car. We still know the parts where we need to improve. Every time we are getting closer to that. Starting fifth with the engine penalty. Whatever position we qualify, it's welcome."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, qualified sixth): "It was a nice bounce back. We had an issue on Lap 2. Brain fade, driver error. I didn't get a whole lot of useful running out of practice. I'm not sure what to expect. Big thanks to the Go Daddy boys because they were bolting things back together rolling out for qualifying. Q1 went pretty straight forward. Q2 lap put us comfortably into the Fast Six. Had a little problem that cost us some time because of the traffic and sort of went for it on my last lap and had pretty phenomenal smoke show in Turn 1 when both the fronts locked up, and still managed to finish the lap and just sneak into the Fast Six. Unfortunately because the (set of red) tires we need for the race, we had to run those again in the Fast Six. They had flat spots right down the canvas from one side to another. I knew I was a little handicapped going in. Still a good bounce back and happy to be in the Fast Six again. Obviously E.J. and I won't be starting there, but I think it is going to be an interesting afternoon and hopefully we can make our way up to the front before the checkered flag falls."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "I am disappointed to not make it through to Round 2. The track was quite slippery in the beginning of qualifying and unfortunately I kissed the wall a little bit and bent the toe-link. Because of the limited time I had to continue and improved the lap time but I couldn't make it through to Round 2. We will go through the data from today and hopefully have a good package for the race. We just need a trouble-free race and we can get a good result."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "I think that was a good qualifying session. We made some progress. I'm a little disappointed to not be inside the top six; a few tenths would have put me right there. But we did make progress, and we were a lot closer in lap times to my teammates which is big. I'm really excited for tomorrow's race. I think we have a great race car in the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car. We're in shape for a good race and hopefully a top-10 finish tomorrow.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Automobile Club Team Penske Chevrolet): "We overcame what happened with the incident this morning in the No. 3 Auto Club machine with a lot of hard work. Right now, sitting eighth after qualifying plus the penalty, gives us plenty of room for strategy tomorrow. Hopefully my great Team Penske crew will make things happen and we can make up some spots on the track for a win."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC | Embrase - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "I have only managed to run around 41 laps this weekend and then trying to qualify on a different tire, I ended up just a little bit off the advancing group in the first round. I really need more track time and as the race progresses I will start to get a better feel. We can't be happy with where I am starting, but I think if I had known the track a little more, I would of done better, so hopefully tomorrow will be a good race."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Mouser Electronics | GEICO - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "The crash this morning didn't help with trying to get track time. It was a very competitive qualifying session and we were just a little bit behind. I missed making the Firestone Fast Six by a tenth of a second and when you think of it like that, it could have gone my way just like it had done at Barber a few weeks ago or not. We just need to work on car tonight so we are ready for the race tomorrow."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "The car is not where we want it to be at the moment. Unfortunately, with the rain, we couldn't work on the set-up. It's the same for everybody, but we couldn't catch up. The car is not in a happy place at the moment. We have some good direction because we basically used qualifying as a practice session for us. Thanks to our Honda-powered engine, we are starting up front. The warm-up tomorrow will be important for us, but we should be OK."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Honda): "It was a really good day for the No. 18 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Honda. I made a little mistake in the last qualifying session and I think it cost me advancing to the Firestone Fast Six. The Dale Coyne Racing team has done an outstanding job giving me a great car today. We are leaps and bounds of where we were at Barber two weeks ago. With all the Chevrolet's ahead of us having to drop 10 spots on the grid tomorrow that now puts us P3 to start the race on Sunday, which is a huge advantage at a track like Long Beach. Sometimes things don't go your way and other times things are sometimes handed to you. Today it worked out in our favor. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and think we have an excellent chance at a top three finish for Dale Coyne Racing."
JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "Despite our overall starting spot it was a very positive day for the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda. We only were able to get out for one hour of practice this morning and then I hurt my wrist when my car hit the tire barrier at the end of practice. So that made it a bit harder on me when I was trying to qualify. It should be all right by tomorrow so I am not worried. The crew gave me a good car and we should be competitive in what should be a very interesting race tomorrow."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No 38 Service Central Honda): "Overall, it was kind of a tough day. Our car was really good but we had a hose clamp break in the turbo so we didn't develop any boost and that's why we were a little off pace. I don't think we're terrible but we have some work to do and that's kind of frustrating."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "It was a tough day, similar to Barber. It rained on Friday there too and we had fog on Saturday morning there. Here, it rained Friday and we had a lot of yellow flags this morning. That is a little frustrating. But we made the car better for qualifying. We went out early in the first qualifying session to get a clean lap. With the track getting better with each run, it might have hurt our lap time a bit by going early. We made good changes and improvements through qualifying. We just wanted to get as many laps as we could in qualifying since we didn't get many laps in practice. I was happy with our time considering the lack of track time this weekend. We need to make a few more changes for Sunday and get on a proper strategy for the race. It felt good to see the sun today. It's much more like a Long Beach day."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): "We've had some bad luck this weekend, but we're just going to have to put it behind us and do the best we can tomorrow."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "I'm pretty disappointed because I really wanted to have a strong run here. The ABC car is not quite feeling the way I want yet. We just have to keep working at it."
KATHERINE LEGGE (No. 6 TrueCar Lotus Dragon Racing Lotus): "It was nice to get nine laps in a row finally this weekend. As a result of not running many laps, we had a problem in qualifying where we were on the limiter for half the front straight. But it's just a gearing issue, which is an easy fix. So, we are happy that we can take care of that and be ready to go for tomorrow."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet): "It's pretty clear that we have a really fast car. We were fast in the wet yesterday and we were fast (fifth quickest) in the morning session. But, with the 10-spot grid penalty (due to the engine change before the event), we were prepared to give up positions in qualifying to save all of our tires for the race. This gives us the maximum number of options tomorrow. With so many cars getting penalties, the race winner might not be the fastest, but the one that's the smartest with their tires and pit strategy."
8-8:15 a.m. - Firestone Indy Lights Warm-up
9:15 - 9:45 a.m. - IZOD IndyCar Series Warm-up
10:45 a.m. - Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Long Beach (45 Laps), NBC Sports Network (Taped, 5 p.m. April 19)
12:30 p.m. - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (85 Laps), NBC Sports Network, (Live).
Round 1 Group 1
Round 1 Group 2
Round 2 (Fastest 6 from both groups in round 1)
Fast Six Final Round
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