Hunter-Reay beats Power to take pole in Alabama
Andretti Autosport ace Ryan Hunter-Reay set a new track record to win the pole position for the Honda GP of Alabama Saturday. Hunter-Reay's sensational lap of 1m7.0871s lap around the undulating Barber Motorsports Park beat Penske's Will Power to give Chevy a 1-2 start for tomorrow's race.
Takuma Sato, who appeared to qualify for Firestone Fast Six for the second consecutive race, was penalized for interference in Round 2 and was credited with qualifying 12th (a drop of at least six positions). Rookie Tristan Vautier was called back to pit lane to participate in the 10-minute session and qualified a career-best third.
Charlie Kimball advanced to the Firestone Fast Six for the first time and posted his career-best starting position of fifth, while AJ Allmendinger qualified 10th in his IZOD IndyCar Series debut.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "This team has done so well this weekend, we just kept progressing and we knew where we needed to work on it. I really went to work on my driving as well, and we all did it together here. It's a great position to start from and now we need to go make it work in warm up and for the race, making these Firestones hang in there for an entire race. That'll be the challenging part." (About racing at Barber): "It's a very challenging track that rewards aggressiveness, but if you step over just a little too far on set up or on driving, it'll definitely punish you. We worked on making the car better, this team has done a great job in the offseason developing our setup, and we had a great test here, three great teammates, four overall all working together in one direction. It's a good way to hopefully start our season this weekend."
ORIOL SERVIA (No 22. Panther DRR Chevrolet): "I am disappointed. I really feel that we have a good car, the reds just didn't do what we expected. You basically have one lap to put it together - you miss the tire pressures or something a little bit and you're out. We need to do a better job of putting everything together, but I honestly feel like we are improving. The important thing is tomorrow - tires are going to play a big part of it so a car that is able to be consistent on older tires will be better in the race. We're starting pretty far back, but anything can happen here tomorrow."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "My car was good, we just barely missed it in qualifying. We'll just keep digging a little deeper because we aren't far off at all. I know we'll have a good car for the race tomorrow."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "Here the car has been decent the whole time. We have just been trying to work out some of the issues that we have had at St. Pete. This isn't the best track to do it but it gives us a bit of direction. I am a bit bummed about qualifying, you know we were fastest in Q1 and Q2 and then just a bit of missed timing, a bit on my behalf, didn't go out hard enough and then tried to expect some more from the tires later and it just wasn't there. So, I don't think we quite would have gotten a 7.0 that Ryan did, you know we did a 6.7 earlier on new tires but he did a hell of a job and putting a good lap together. You know race day is a different day and hopefully we can move up three spots".
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela/Andretti Autosport/HVM Chevrolet): "We didn't find the speed we were looking for with the red set of tires. Surprisingly we did lack a lot of grip. That was pretty much what stopped us from going faster. It has a balance, I believe we have a very strong car. But we just missed a lot of grip. Tomorrow is going to be a long race, a long day. At this point, we are not starting where we wanted. We will be working hard with the strategies and having a good race craft, making every single move on track that we can."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): ""We had closed the gap on the guys in front of us yesterday in the second practice. But today the gap opened back up again. So that is a little disappointing and I'm frustrated with myself, to be honest. I feel like the car is pretty good. We did improve our time over Friday. But I think I needed to get a little more out of the car today. Hopefully the race will be better for us than today."
AJ ALLMENDIGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): ""I wasn't as strong in the second run as I was in the first. I just didn't feel as good on the second set of tires. We made our first goal of getting out of the first round of qualifying. Making it into the top six was a pretty lofty goal, especially with it being my first time (in this format) and first time on the red (tires). It's still good to be inside the top 12. I know the IZOD Team Penske car will be good in the race, it's just a matter of me going with the flow and how I react to everything."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Mouser KV Racing Technology-SH Racing Chevrolet): ""I'm having a hard time understanding what happened during qualifying. My car actually felt good, but when Vasser came on the radio and said I needed another tenth and a half, I thought that I heard something wrong. And on top of that the times for group two of quals were way slower than group one, which is very strange. Starting back there will make it a long day tomorrow, but I trust the #11 crew, Chevy and Firestone and we'll move forward during the race."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet): "I left pit lane a couple minutes late because we were carrying less fuel and we knew the tires had just two good laps in them. We did a great job getting up to speed, and I got everything out of the car that I needed. It's always disappointing to finish just outside of the Fast Six, but I think we have a great car trimmed out and we will be ready for Sunday."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): "On the reds we had a really big balance change. It was a really big difference so we'll have to try and work on that for tomorrow's warm-up and the race. I think on the blacks we were really quick; even on the older ones. Hopefully we can make up some positions. It's really frustrating to be starting more in the back, but I think we can make it happen. We'll work really hard to go to the front with the Nuclear Clean Air Energy car.
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "It's disappointing for us not to be able to show our performance in the Fast Six. We had a difficult practice session this morning but we worked on our setup and in the first two segments the car was much more connected and I was able to commit and we advanced to the Fast Six. However in the second segment I had to back off because there was a slower car in front of me at the exit of turn five. So I abandoned my qualifying lap and I tried to stretch the space. I checked my mirror on the back straight and there was no one there and then going through turns 7 and 8 which is where the elevation changes which is probably the worst place for Justin Wilson to catch me because I couldn't see anything behind me. When I was able to see that he was coming on I tried to keep my line tight and let him have the racing line. Obviously it was close but I was disappointed to be penalized."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "We've been struggling a little bit this weekend compared to the test. We didn't have the quickest car, but had enough for Q2… got held up by another car and ended up getting knocked out. It's frustrating but we've got an extra set of reds (Firestone red alternate tires) than those guys now in the race and maybe degradation will come into it tomorrow. We'll keep fighting and hopefully get the Go Daddy car up in a good position by the end of the day."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "It's been a really rough day for us. Things haven't really gone our way. I had a little trouble trying to find some spacing in qualifying. I don't think we're a fast six car, but we're definitely better than where we are starting tomorrow. A top 10 qualifying is what we were looking for, and I think that's probably where we were so it gives us something to look forward to tomorrow in the race." (About the strategy for the race): "Tomorrow it's going to be important for us to try and conserve and fight the battles all the way through. It's going to be a long day, it's going to be hot, hotter than what we've seen the last couple of months. I think it's going to be difficult for everyone to do long stints out there so we have to be able to fight all the way through. Everyone has been focusing on short runs and trying to get their car the optimal performance, but tomorrow is going to be all about lasting all the way through to the end."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "I'm really upset by what happened. The No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda was really fast today. We definitely had a top three car today, possible even a pole winning one. My red tires were just coming in and I was working on a very quick lap when Sato slowed down in front of me and didn't get out of the way. That caused me to slow down and have to go around him. Once I came in into the pits I ran right to the INDYCAR trailer to see if they saw the incident. They took Sato's two fastest laps away, which was some sort of justice. I just feel bad for the crew because they have given me a pole winning car this weekend."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 18 Ipiranga Honda): "We got some work ahead of us before the race tomorrow. We will work on some changes to the car and see what they do in the morning warm up on Sunday. I know the team is doing all they can to give me a competitive car and I appreciate all their hard work this weekend. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble in the race and make up some spots for a good finish."
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "I was a little disappointed in qualifying to be honest; we thought we had a little bit more than that in the Acorn Stairlifts car. We were relatively quick on Friday and this morning we seemed to have taken a few steps back. But we are in a position where we can get a good result so we will make sure we work hard overnight, have a good strategy and get a good result for the Acorn Stairlifts team."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "We were quite encouraged with the changes we made overnight based on how the National Guard Chevy responded this morning in practice, but both Oriol and I struggled to find the same feeling in the car this afternoon in qualifying. A positive for tomorrow is that is appears although our tire wear is good, but we will have to work some more as a group to achieve the maximum speed that we are looking for again. The heat is a big factor here, so we need to be ready for that in the race tomorrow."
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The Midas / Big O Tires car is not too far off. In our qualifying group, Dixon blocked me on our fast lap. Was it going to be that much better? No, probably only a tenth or two and we wouldn't have advanced based on lap times. It looks like we got the harder group because we would have been around third with our lap time in the second group and advanced. Unfortunately our group was stacked and I was P11 with a 1:07.4 and that would have put me in the top-six in Group 2 and would have advanced if we did that time there. We just have to keep our heads down and work hard for tomorrow. We will have to have an alternate strategy because you can't pass all of those cars."
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