Power secures IndyCar pole in Baltimore
At the very end of the session, Conway nailed the wall at the railroad chicane, severely damaging his car (Conway appears to be okay). He joined Justin Wilson, Ed Carpenter, and Graham Wilson in having incidents in the same exact spot. No doubt IndyCar and ALMS officials have taken notice of the situation. Making matters worse is that there is a gate at roughly the same spot that the cars are hitting the wall. AutoRacing1 will report on any further course changes as they occur.
Power set an IZOD IndyCar Series track-qualifying record of 1:17.5921 in the second round and topped the Firestone Fast Six with a best lap of 1:17.9750. Mike Conway qualified a season-high second in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing, but he'll incur a 10-grid spot penalty for an unapproved Honda engine change.
With the championship at stake, Power knew getting the pole was important.
"It was just minimal time on the track the last couple days," said Power. "We knew we had a pretty good setup. I was a little worried after practice we were only 15th, only got a couple laps. I was determined to get pole. I needed another point toward the championship, definitely helps. Starting at the front lowers the percentages of getting involved in an incident in the first lap."
"Starting from the pole it is a lot easier to control your own destiny," said Power, who claimed his fifth pole of the season. "We'll focus on the job at hand and think about this race and doing the best we can - the best I can and the best that the team can. Over the last few weeks we've done what we needed to do and we want to continue.
"This track is physical, but it is the same for everyone. It's going to be a good show for the Baltimore fans and we'll be plenty busy in the cars. We'll be looking forward not back, that's for sure."
The chicane that caught a lot of drivers out is relatively fast and lore’s you into a mistake.
"I mean, the way they built it, it was very easy to pick up (learn)," said Franchitti. "I suggested that they put tires on the inside so you can't just run over them. You feel obligated, too, because other people are. So you feel like if you want to get through each round, you've got to attack that bloody chicane, take a risk.
POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "This track is very physical, there are lots of turns and not many straights, especially now that they have added the chicane. It was important to get the pole in the Verizon Chevy #12 car - on a course like this it is important to start up front and additionally we gained one more point toward the Championship. Starting from the pole it is a lot easier to control your own destiny. Tomorrow we'll focus on the job at hand and think about this race and doing the best we can - the best I can and the best that the team can. Over the last few weeks we've done what we needed to do and we want to continue. This track is physical, but it is the same for everyone. It's going to be a good show for the Baltimore fans and we'll be plenty busy in the cars tomorrow afternoon. We'll be looking forward not back, that's for sure."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I think we gave up a little bit, definitely in the chicanes, and I think it's probably going to change again overnight. It seemed to be a lot of risk to take and possibly break the car and take yourself out of Q1 and Q2 and not transferring. So tomorrow's a new day, the Target cars are always great in race prep, and throughout the race, so I feel confidence that we can race hard and definitely beat them."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "We got it out this morning and the balance was really good, so we didn't really change anything this weekend. The ABC Supply car has been pretty much good the rest of the time. Just sort of working on getting around the track and the challenge of the chicane. We were just trying to find a little bit more there on the last lap, and went too much. Happy to get 2nd but with the engine change will be 12th. That's a bit annoying. Could have been a front-row start. But it is what it is, the same for everyone. It is just going to make our day tomorrow a bit more challenging so we will see where we stack up during the first few laps on what we are going to do strategy."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "I wish I wasn't bouncing so much. It would hurt less. It's a tough break, obviously. Sonoma was looking great. The guys have done an awesome job and the easiest part was left to go because we were on brand new red tires. I don't know if it's just going off of the race and Josef, but when I turned nothing happened. It was a pretty bad accident, and I got a very big hit inside the car. I'm physically pretty hurt right now so I don't know that will affect tomorrow. Hats off to the boys for giving me a great car and hopefully we can put it together for tomorrow."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Lexar Media Honda): "Obviously it is the luck of the draw with which group you get, so we are happy to get through that first segment there, it was pretty tough. It is difficult here with as bumpy as the place here, and that with this chicane that you can gain 3 or 4 tenths by just what you do there. It made it pretty daunting to put a lap together, tough to put a lap together. That was part of the challenge." (About the chicane): "I think the chicane in the back stretch needs to be addressed for tomorrow. I think it's too fast right now."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "Good to be back I guess. We have had a bit of drop in performance. Some of it self-induced, some of it bad luck in a couple places. It's great to be back here in Baltimore. This event was such a success last year, and we were very happy that the race could be saved and Andretti Sport Marketing stepped up and to help kick it off. We had a bit of an interesting day yesterday just sort of dealing with some of things you deal with in a street circuit. I think everybody cooperated well and communicated well and I think that was important. Now we have a race track that I think we are pretty cool to being able to race on. And so with a little bit of the practice that we had, being a little wet this morning, we are pleased with what we were able to come up with."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinishes Team Penske Chevrolet): "The No. 2 PPG machine ran great today and it's upsetting that we weren't able to advance, but that's how competitive this series is. We have a really strong car and we'll see what we can do with it tomorrow."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): "I was pushing really hard and just made a mistake. I felt really good in that area but I just hit the curb, the car completely launched in the air. Then, I hit the second one and there was just no hope. I landed on the railroad tracks and the car shot to the left. It's unfortunate because I think we were working on a really good lap. Our goal here was just to advance and get into the top-six but now we're going to start last so we have a lot of work to do."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "It was a very frustrating qualifying session. We had a positive morning in the practice session. It started with rain and then in the end we had a few laps in the dry which gave me a very positive feeling compared to yesterday. We made good progress so we were happy with the balance and were looking forward to qualifying. I was on a warm up lap and the difference between driver (in rank) was only a half lap. I was in the middle of my second lap and other drivers had completed their second lap when the red came out and I was only warming up. I didn't even have a chance to go which is a big shame. I guess the positive that we take away is that we are back on a good pace. Hopefully in the morning warm-up we make another small step and have a strong afternoon."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "This weekend has been a big challenge because it's been several years since I've driven a single-seater Indy car. In the first practice session I only got two laps because of the bumps on the track. In the second session I only got half an hour and the third session I finally got some laps in. So I had less time than I thought I would to get used to the car this weekend." (About qualifying 10th): "I managed to push hard in the first two laps of qualifying and ended up tenth. Who would have thought that we'd be in tenth? So I'm pretty happy with our results today. It's a shame that we have to incur a 10 spot grid penalty tomorrow for the race. But I'm really happy with the whole Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team. They've given me a great car for my first race back in the IZOD IndyCar Series." (About doing double duty in ALMS): "I'm on the pole for the ALMS race that starts two hours after IndyCar qualifying ended, so it's a busy weekend. But I'm ready and I love this."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "It was a really good qualifying session today. It was a little busy in both groups I ran in. The No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car was quick. With as limited practice time we got, it felt really good to get a nice lap in like that. The race will be good tomorrow. We'll use some new strategy and some new reds to move forward."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "Funny thing about getting airborne at the chicane. I was making up time in the chicane. So I tried to make up more time there and I just kept getting more aggressive through that area. You know it's a risky situation through that part of the track. Many guys were hitting the wall in that section. I just got a little too much curbing and the car went flying. Luckily we landed straight and I kept going. We transferred out of the first round of qualifying with a little bit of luck. But we'll take it. We haven't had the best breaks in qualifying this year. In the second session, we tried to improve the car a bit and I was pushing hard. We almost gained a couple of spots at the end. So it was a very good day for Ed Carpenter Racing and the Fuzzy's Vodka crew. It feels good to give them a good qualifying effort this time. It has been difficult this weekend because the track has been different with each session. That has made it hard for everyone. It's the reason you have seen so many incidents too. Everyone is trying to get up to speed so quickly with a small amount of time."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): "I'm a little frustrated because I know the Penske Truck Rental team gave me a great car today and I was looking forward to qualifying. With what happened in the first session I wanted to make sure we had enough time but I didn't get much space between me and Justin. I slowed down on the lap that could have put us in the Fast Six and unfortunately pushed too hard the next lap. Now we have to refocus for tomorrow and go get a win."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): ""It's tough out there, but it's good fun. You're really dancing with the car. I really enjoy it. The crew did an awesome job trying to repair the car. Thanks to Bryan Herta's team. They gave us a wishbone from Tagliani's car to put on my HP car. It was amazing for them to do that. The car was really awesome. I think it was a car good enough for the pole, but I didn't do my job right today. I quite upset with myself."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HMV Racing Lotus): "We just didn't get a clear lap in. It's pretty frustrating because I had a really good lap going when the red flag came out. It would have been good enough to qualify maybe 16 or 17; maybe even good enough to get us into the next round. But, it's racing and now we just have to focus on the race tomorrow."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "We didn't qualify today and we'll be starting last because I crashed this morning in practice. It's a major bummer for the guys. Obviously they're having to work really hard to fix the car. It was just a particularly inopportune time to have that happen, especially with qualifying being back-to-back with that session and there's just not that much time in between, so that's certainly frustrating. I think we'll consider our options today. There were a lot of guys that had very similar issues and accidents in qualifying today and they'll be starting at the back with us. A lot of those guys are the ones that we're fighting for position in the championship right now. So that's kind of gone our way a bit. We're in a position now where we have three sets of sticker red tires for tomorrow, and I think we've got some options when it comes to strategy. It's not the optimal way to go into the race, but there are some small upsides that hopefully we'll be able to take advantage of in tomorrow's race."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): ""We can manage this. Now we have two new sets of reds (Firestone alternate tires) and there are some engine penalties in front of us. We can manage it, but we really stepped on our own foot today. That's what you get for going out the latest. We went out latest out of anybody and gave ourselves absolutely no margin for error on a red flag happening. It's part of the qualifying risk on street courses. You don't find this on ovals more on street circuits. It's part of the beast, you wait until the last possible moment to get the most rubber down on the track and obviously get the best lap time out of the car, and we got bit by that. But, this is the first time we'll have two sets of new reds in along time so maybe that will be to our advantage. We have to look at the positives and this DHL/Sun Drop team has become really good at doing that lately."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Dr Pepper Ten Chevrolet): "We are just struggling a bit with set up and couldn't get the car to rotate, so that’s where we lost time. I think tonight we'll look at going to a set up closer to what Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) is running and hopefully be ready to make up some spots tomorrow for the Dr Pepper TEN car."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "In this morning's practice, we continued with the problem we had yesterday with the brakes, so when I started my first run, the rear locked up and I made contact with the wall damaging the left front of my car. I didn't get any laps in that session, and it put us behind because I didn't have the chance to learn the two new corners that were put in place last night. I want to thank my crew for doing a great job repairing the car, but we went straight into qualifying under difficult circumstances and gave it my best. I was in a very competitive group, more competitive than the first group, which was going to make it very tough to get into the top six. My second lap, I brushed the wall and bent a toe link which ended my qualifying session. We will be starting in the back of the field tomorrow, which will give us some freedom to take some risks with our pit strategy in tomorrow's race and I am looking for a great result."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "I am obviously disappointed. We had a competitive car all weekend, but I was only able to get one qualifying lap in before the red flag came out. Although I question the rules of IndyCar, the rules are the rules and therefore I was unable to have any more timed laps and we are where we are."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 GEICO/Mouser KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "We had a fairly decent qualifying today. In the second round I made a small aero change on the car that really didn't work the way I expected, but I can't complain about starting eighth on a street course. It's definitely an improvement on our qualifying effort compared to the other street courses and I'm looking forward to having a good race tomorrow. With two races to go we need to make the most out of the points to get as close as we can to the top three in the championship."
Fast Six Results
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with today's post qualifying press conference. Right now we're joined by Dario Franchitti, who qualified fifth. We're also joined by James Hinchcliffe, who qualified sixth. We're also joined by Mike Conway who qualified second. This second-place start matches Mike's best IndyCar qualifying record which he did in Barber in 2010. Mike will have a 10 grid-spot penalty due to an unapproved engine change.
James, we'll start with you. Talk about today's qualifying run.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Good to be back, I guess. Yeah, we've had a bit of a drop in performance. Some of it self-induced, some of it bad luck at a couple places.
It's great to be back here in Baltimore. This event was such a success last year. We were very happy the race could be saved. Andretti Sports Marketing stepped up to help kick it off.
We had an interesting day yesterday dealing with some of the things you deal with in a street circuit. Everybody cooperated and communicated well. That was important. Now we have a racetrack we're close to being able to race on. With the limited practice we had, it was wet this morning, we're pretty pleased with what we came up with.
Back to the start of the year, we make it into the Fast Six, then we are just mystified with the gap to the guys on the second run with red tires. We have to figure out what we're doing wrong in Q3.
Gutted for Ryan, that was an unfortunate run for him in round one. The way the group was stacked in round two, I wasn't sure we were going to be able to make it into Q2. But we did. Then second in Q3. Strong for the Go Daddy guys.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, James just brought up the first group. Can you talk about that as well as the qualifying run.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Obviously it's the luck of the draw with what group you get in. So, yeah, we were happy to get through that first segment there, it was pretty tough.
It's difficult here as bumpy as the place is. Now with this chicane you can gain 3 or 4/10ths by what you do there. It made it pretty daunting just to put a lap together, tough to put a lap together. That was part of the challenge.
No, a typical street course challenge, probably only more so. With the limited track time, we're still learning. It's a challenge for the whole field because of that.
Obviously the chicane on the backstretch needs to be addressed for tomorrow. It's too quick. It's fourth gear right now. I'm taking it fourth gear at some laps. You were 2 or 3/10ths up on me. You may be hitting the train tracks harder than you were yesterday before the chicane.
But, no, that needs to be addressed for tomorrow, needs to be slowed down somehow. Probably move the walls back or something. Hopefully that gets done. If you're following another car into that chicane, you're going to be blinded where the curb is. That could go wrong pretty quickly. Not sure how many cars we've lost yet, but it's been an expensive day for a lot of teams.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, a bit of trouble at the end of qualifying. Can you talk about the highs and lows of today's results.
MIKE CONWAY: Rolled out this morning. The balance was pretty good. Didn't really change anything over the weekend. The car has been pretty much there most of the time. Just kind of working on getting around the track. As Dario said, the challenge of the chicane, just trying to find a little bit more there on the last lap.
But happy obviously to get second, but then with the engine penalty, we're going to be 12th. That's a bit annoying, obviously. Could have been a front-row start. But it is what it is. Same for everyone. It's just going to make our day tomorrow a bit more challenging. We'll see where we stack up on the first few laps on what we're going to do with strategy.
Happy with the car. I don't think any changes in the car.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q: Mike, you made some changes to your pit crew last weekend. You addressed some issues a few races ago. Obviously you've been coming on strong. Tell me about the transformation of the team lately. You've gone from nowhere to somewhere pretty fast.
MIKE CONWAY: The guys have been working hard all year, trying to iron out any problems we had. We changed a guy on the fuel. Yeah, obviously Craig is a new guy. He's been doing a good job. Obviously we still want to try to improve on everything. The guys changing the wheels are very fast. But there's always room for improvement in a team, and me myself.
The guys have been working hard as always. We've struggled sometimes at some circuits to get the balance as I'd like it. We turn up here this weekend, it's been good from the start. I think all the hard work back at the factory. And winter, working very hard to come back strong next year.
THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by several more of our drivers. Will Power, our polesitter. We're joined by Scott Dixon, who qualified third. We're also joined by Sebastien Bourdais, who qualified fourth.
Will, let's start with you. An important day in qualifying, the bonus point and front-row starting position. Talk about today's qualifying run.
WILL POWER: It was just minimal time on the track the last couple days. We knew we had a pretty good setup. I was a little worried after practice we were only 15th, only got a couple laps. I was determined to get pole. I needed another point toward the championship, definitely helps. Starting at the front lowers the percentages of getting involved in an incident in the first lap.
Yeah, need to focus ahead now. Got that out of the way. See what we can do tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, your second consecutive Firestone Fast Six appearance. Talk about bouncing back from last week at Sonoma.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I wish I wasn't bouncing so much. Would hurt less (laughter).
Yeah, it's a tough break. Obviously Sonoma was looking great. The guys had done an awesome job. The easiest part was left to go because we were on brand-new red tires. I don't know if it's just going off the race line with Josef in the hairpin that caused what happened. For sure when I turned, nothing happened. That was a pretty bad accident where the top didn't stay together and I got a very big hit inside the car.
I'm physically pretty hurt right now. I don't know how it's going to play out for tomorrow. I talked to the boys. They've given me a great car. Hopefully we can put it together tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, limited track time. Talk about being able to maximize the qualifying runs today.
SCOTT DIXON: It was a strange kind of couple of days, I think. We didn't run at all in the first session, a few laps in the second one. This morning we didn't get any laps together.
Car felt decent. We're lacking all-around grip, losing pretty big in the chicane where some people are taking bigger chances than others, I think.
It was a strange first Q1. Obviously good for us. We did one out-lap, were on our second, the red came out. All in all, not a bad day. I think the racecar will be pretty decent. Hopefully they can change some of the parts to the track to make it a little more consistent throughout the race.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions.
Q: (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: I think I probably got to take him out and continue on (laughter).
No, we were obviously going for race wins here. We got to get to the end of the race and keep it clean. The day turned out a little bit better than I thought it was after this morning's practice. That's definitely positive. I think both of us, Dario and I, still have some speed in the car, which is good. Obviously, Will was very fast today.
Yeah, try and keep it clean. Hopefully we're not avoiding any safety trucks at the start and can continue on.
Q: What kind of adjustments can be made to this curb? Does it need to be moved back from the railroad tracks?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Just move the wall in. I would imagine that would slow the entry and the exit down. If you want to race the curbs, that's not something we all want, just close the walls up, it would slow down your entry because of the angle, and the exit.
Q: Did you look at the opening to the left? I assume that's troublesome.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I tried not to. I could see all the swirls on the wall. I think Dallara should sponsor that. I try not to look at stuff like that.
Q: I know the intent of turn one was to have a heavy braking area. With the bumps there, how does that take away from that being a good passing zone?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. I can't say I really tried any other line through there. From memory, the inside was pretty rough anyway.
You know, I think to make this track a really great racing track, if they could reseal the whole front straight, eliminate the chicane, have a smooth surface over the railway tracks there, a smooth entry into one, I think you'd have a really good passing spot there. Whether that's achievable, who knows.
As far as for the race, it's going to be pretty tough.
Q: Other guys want to weigh in on that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I agree with Scott. I think the resurface all the way down the main straight, down into turn four, would be good. The bumps, they do lengthen the braking zone a little bit, so it might help. I don't think many people have gone down inside to see how big the bumps are. That will be the experiment tomorrow at some point.
Q: Will, when they throw a chicane in overnight after the first day, how quick do you guys get that new corner? Is it something that comes fast or do you need five or ten laps?
WILL POWER: I mean, the way they built it, it was very easy to pick up. I suggested that they put tires on the inside so you can't just run over them. You feel obligated, too, because other people are. So you feel like if you want to get through each round, you've got to attack that bloody chicane, take a risk.
It's just a quick thing that was put in. So I don't know, I mean, it's a third-gear corner now. It's not bad. As it stands right now, I think you could go around on someone and they (indiscernible) be passing.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Everything a is risk we do. Hinchcliffe said it's a lottery. When you land, it's a lottery. I think the whole place is a risk. That's more a lottery as to where you land and how you land.
Q: You guys are returning for the second year and you're welcome here to Baltimore. Being back for the second year, is it more of a challenge with the course or because you raced it, it's easier for you?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: No, I think any time you come back to a circuit, it's definitely easier than year one. We had some changes to the track which we had to deal with through turn five then obviously sort of the fluid situation over the train tracks. Even turn five was different today than it was yesterday.
We're always being thrown curve balls. 90% of the track remained unchanged not only from last year to this year but from first practice to qualifying. It's easier than learning a brand-new circuit.
Q: Will, with the possibility of rainfall tomorrow afternoon, how closely are you and your team monitoring it? How do you think rainfall might impact how you race the course?
WILL POWER: Yeah, you know, that usually really mixes up strategies, what tires to be on. We'll take it as it comes. We're aware there's a chance of rain tomorrow. Until it rains here, you don't know it's here.
Q: With the opening that Mike hit and others, Mark Martin last week, do we have to analyze every place there's an opening in the wall? Do you think that needs to be a point of emphasis?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think every time you have to make a quick fix to a situation, like we've had to do this weekend, you can't think about everything that's going to happen, how quick it's going to be through the chicane. The initial time was great, to eliminate that chicane, Craig passing, it didn't work out. After that, you have to switch to Plan B, you can get it right or you can get it wrong.
The way we blend on exit, with the wall coming at you, I think it probably is going to require a bit of thinking overnight.
Q: Will, this is the second race, you're on the pole for the second time. What is it with you and this track? For the rest of you, can you beat him and how without taking him out?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: There goes all my ideas.
WILL POWER: I think we have good cars. Drive for Penske is the biggest thing. Get the best equipment. If you're not on pole or winning, you probably lose your job. You know, it's expected.
THE MODERATOR: Anyone want to jump in on what it takes to beat him?
WILL POWER: Easy. Throw a yellow. It happened last week (laughter). I pit early, get screwed. Pit late, get screwed. What do you do?
Q: (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: I don't win every single race.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think Will does a terrific job, a great job. I think we've proved the last two years he's beatable. He's done a good job, though. I will say that. Damn Aussie.
Q: Mike, you were one of the last ones to not quite get through that chicane very well. What I wanted to ask is when you are driving, did you just hit it wrong? You come off the first curb wrong and you can't help yourself because you're going to hit the wall?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I pretty much hit the first curb wrong, positioned me wrong for the second curb. I tried to take more of it knowing I was going to be in the wrong spot on the exit. Rear-end out, tagged the wall.
It's just one of them corners where you need to get the curbs right every time. You try to save a little bit each time you go in. Looking for a bit too much obviously. It's a shame. Gives the guys a lot more work to do tonight. Obviously happy we're up there.
Q: Coming down to the green flag tomorrow, is the plan to bypass the chicane?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We all nodded.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and wrap things up. Congratulations on a great qualifying run. Best of luck tomorrow.
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