Franchitti nips Hunter-Reay for pole in Long Beach
Will Power will start in his Penske Chevy ahead of Takuma Sato and Mike Conway.
Helio Castroneves rounded out the Fast Six.
It was the 30th pole (tied with Sebastien Bourdais for seventh all time) of his Indy car career, which began in 1997. Franchitti is seeking to break a tie with Bourdais and Paul Tracy with his 32nd victory. His last win was the 2012 Indianapolis 500.
Five different teams were represented in the Firestone Fast Six and eight comprised Round 2 (12 cars), when Mike Conway set an IZOD IndyCar Series track record of 1:07.1937. Bourdais, competing in the 2006 Champ Car race, holds the record for the current configuration at 1:06.886.
Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was 0.0555 of a second behind Franchitti in the No. 1 DHL car for Andretti Autosport and will start on the front row for the second consecutive race.
Alex Tagliani's qualifying attempt was cut short by a full-course red flag on Saturday afternoon. As a result, Barracuda Racing will start P20 for the 80-lap race on Sunday.
Tagliani was on his way to the second round of Firestone Fast Six qualifying when an on-track incident caused the red flag in the middle of the No. 98's best lap. With only minutes left in the session, the Barracuda Racing crew wasn't allowed to go back out and improve their time.
"The timing of the red flag was obviously not in our favor," explained team owner Bryan Herta. "Where we are in the pit lane worked against us as some cars were able to complete their lap while others, including us, did not.
"Whether you throw a red or a local yellow, and allow cars to finish a lap is under the chief steward's direction. In this case, the track was blocked in turn one so they went full red course condition very quickly. Alex was on a lap that would've clearly put us into the top six in the session. We were not given the opportunity to complete the lap so as a result we're going to start on row 10, which is not a true indication of the car or Alex's speed. The good news is Long Beach affords us options in pit strategy and Alex feels good in the car so you can bet he will be on a mission tomorrow."
Tagliani expressed his frustration, saying, "I'm pretty upset because the red flag cost us when we were on a mega lap. I know that Barracuda Racing would've easily made it to the next round.
"The incident was down in turn one and we were in turn nine. I don't understand why we couldn't finish our lap. I'm going to have a talk with Beaux Barfield and try to understand why. I just need an explanation.
"Nevertheless, it's a shame because we had a really good car, so it's tough to accept. Hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow with strategy and get back up front."
More to follow........
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “(Winning the pole) meant a lot. We had a very fast race car in Barber, but man, we really made a mess of qualifying. Today it was nice to go out there and really have a great car and get everything out of it. So thank you to everyone on the Target team because it’s been a tough start to the season, especially for the No. 10 but really with everybody.” (About focus he has this weekend): “You can always do better, can’t you, I want to leave nothing on the table and give Chris every bit of feedback that I can. Those guys will take care of their end of things and I’ll take care of mine. That requires a lot of focus, and sometimes I’m not the funnest person to be around when that happens, but that’s what it takes.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): “The guys gave me a great car as always. This team has been doing a great job. The DHL/Sun Drop Chevy has been just awesome. But, this is unfortunate. To lose it by half a tenth is worse than losing it by four-tenths. It was close, but today really doesn't count. We will go get them tomorrow. We are starting from the front row so I think things are looking up for us."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply Co/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “We were so close, it was just a matter of the balance shifting to accommodate to the red tire for qualifying I think we were quick. But maybe it is not enough at this speed to get to the front row. I think it's a team effort to prepare the car. It has been a good strong weekend and I'm very, very pleased."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 17 blu eCigs Honda): “Yeah it was all going good. Very quick in Q2 and then in Q3 I think the tire pressures just went a little bit too high and we couldn’t get any more time. It’s a shame because I think we had a really good shot at pole there, but big thank you to the Rahal team and Blu eCigs for making this possible. I’m looking forward to a good race tomorrow.
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Dixon: "My car was still running. I'm sure there were yellows waving. My car was partially blocking the track, but I was pulling away. It is kind of in the middle. It's a hard call. A tough one. I'm sure if Oriol had seen the yellows and slowed down, maybe he would have gotten around. We were solidly in the top six, and it sucks to go out that way. We will have to fight back from way back tomorrow."
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It’s a little disappointing that we’re struggling but that is part of the process sometimes. As soon as you have the tiniest little issue you end up tenth in your qualifying group like I did today. We’ll be working very hard tonight to figure out what we need to fix for tomorrow’s race. I’ll also be studying my driving line tonight to try and find every ounce of speed possible for tomorrow. Our struggle today just shows you how competitive this series really is."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “We we're going to run out early and run two sets. That was our strategy. I think we were a little behind with pace and the red flag kind of slowed us down. We definitely didn't maximize our strategy, so I think we have to find some pace in the car tomorrow and I think we will definitely do that. We've got some things to try. We've just got to keep a clean race, run well tomorrow, and score some good points. That's the plan."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “The run was a little disappointing, to be honest. We were able to catch a break with some guys crashing out late and losing their laps. So that will move us up on the grid. We went out early on the red Firestones and ran into traffic. We lost some good laps right there. It’s hard to time those qualifying sessions on a track like this. It happens to everyone at some point. I thought the car was better than the time indicates. It stinks a little because I think we could have jumped up the chart if we could have put a lap together. At the same time, we caught break with other people’s misfortunes. We made some changes for qualifying and they helped. But we didn’t get aggressive enough with them and that hurt a bit. We were right with our logic on the setup. We just didn’t go after it hard enough. We are getting closer to the front of the field. We’ll improve the car for the race now too.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog Flex Pen Honda): “Overall, it was a pretty good day for the No. 83 car. It was nice to bounce-back today after shaking off some of yesterday’s difficulties. We had a couple of good sessions and finished in the top-10 both times. We have the car for it and it was good to show results. It was a really good way to pay the guys back after working late last night. It’s great to start in the top-10. We have a really consistent car.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): “It’s frustrating because the car is so good on blacks, but we don’t quite know what’s going on here. The lap was ok and I thought I was in. We have to try and understand how we’re not working the tires properly, which is one of the same issues my teammate Tristan (Vautier) is having. It’s frustrating because I thought we had more speed in our car. I’m happy with the balance of the car, we just need to find grip somewhere."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 77 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): “Well, it’s really frustrating because we got caught out with the red flag. You know it is what it is, but I think the car was really good and it’s just unfortunate that we got caught in that. Hopefully we’re going to have a good race tomorrow. I think the car is strong and we should be able to pass some cars and move forward.”
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela/Andretti Autosport/HVM Chevrolet): “I qualified 10th. The top 10 is not bad after the beginning of the weekend that we had; I think we are recovering pretty decently. Three out of the four the cars in our team are starting in the top 10 which is going to benefit us in a race like Long Beach. Starting in the front part of the grid is definitely a benefit. We are going to try to do our best to climb positions as soon as possible and make a good strategy for the race.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): “Up and down day, I guess. A little disappointed to be starting seventh in the Go Daddy car. Happy for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) – congrats to him on the front row. You know, to miss the Firestone Fast Six by such a small margin there, it’s a bit heartbreaking. We had a good car, we missed it just that tiny little bit. It’s obviously an improvement over Barber where we were stuck down in 20th, but not where we want to be just yet. So, we’ll put our heads together and try to come up with a strong race car and hopefully we can have a better day tomorrow.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Hydroxycut KV Racing Technology-SH Racing Chevrolet): “We found the right direction on the setup during this morning session and the times showed up in qualifying. I know we have a good car for the race tomorrow and starting towards the front will definitely help us fighting for a top spot, but I still think it will come down to who manages better their Firestone tires. We'll make some more tweaks to the car for the morning warm-up and get ready for the green flag tomorrow."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther DRR Chevrolet): “I think we had a car to make the top six and I didn't have a chance to set a fast lap. There's not much room for a lot of strategy tomorrow - it's a two stop race no matter how you look at it. We have a good car, we're going to have to pass people and get to the front on track. Things are not coming easy for us, but I am very happy with how the team is working and how the car is working - we will show it."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "We are still looking for ways to get the balance right. We made some progress but not enough. The No. 7 McAfee car was pretty close on the prime (tires) but we had a bit too much understeer and we put the options (red) on and it just got worse. These days you cannot afford to have any hiccups with such a tight field. We did not make the cut for the first qualifying session which was a shame, but it was still better than the previous two races. Hopefully we will have a good race tomorrow and continue to make progress with our qualifying runs."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I just took that one lap and backed off. Tim (Cindric) said ‘You're barley going to make it,’ and I thought he meant on fuel but he meant the checkered. Literally, barely missed it. I much rather start third than second. The starts in these races you never know what is going to happen. You are better off on the inside. It was good to get to the Fast Six just because of how close everything is at the moment. We got caught out there on the end there. Still very happy with third, good starting position. Getting ready for some good, quality racing tomorrow."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "It was a rough qualifying session for the team and the #6 TrueCar, worst we have had so far this season and not a place we deserved to be. We are going to keep working for the right balance and improving so tomorrow we will have a good clean race."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club Team Penske Chevrolet): “We were happy during the first segment we made some adjustments and improved quite a lot. But we still had some issues and in fact the third one we just decided to make a lot of changes and improved even more. It's a shame I felt that I had a better car than Top 6. I'm not complaining but I just want to be able to move forward with momentum and turbo. Being Top 6 is great and we can keep up the speeds. Tomorrow is going to be an exciting race."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): “It was pretty stress-free for us, and I went out and the National Guard Chevy felt like I thought it would right away and we were able to bang some good laps together. That first session was kind of a cluster, so we got a little help, but I was on a lap that was good enough to transfer and had been on a good lap previous to that and got blocked. And once we were in the second round I put in a lap, felt pretty good, and knew there were a couple more tenths out there, but I broke too late going into Turn One and screwed the lap and that screwed up the second lap. That was frustrating, but we’ve been making some gains here this weekend and the team has been working really well together and it’s nice to be able to catch a break in one of these qualification sessions. I’m very confident with the car that we’ve got and that we’ll have a good racecar like we did here last year. We’re well set up to be able to run with the big boys at the front, which is what we’ve been saying all year; if we can start closer to the front we’ll stay there because our race pace has been good. Hopefully we get the chance to prove that tomorrow.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda): "The incident was down in turn one and we were in turn nine. I don't understand why we couldn't finish our lap. I'm going to have a talk with Beaux Barfield and try to understand why. I just need an explanation. Nevertheless, it's a shame because we had a really good car, so it's tough to accept. Hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow with strategy and get back up front."
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): “We made some changes this morning and it wasn’t quite what we were looking for. Then I think we had a pretty good balance going into qualifying. The first run was pretty good, I just didn’t quite put it together really from my point of view on the second set of tires using the reds (Firestone alternate tires). I think the Acorn Stairlifts car is pretty good for the race and I’m looking forward to getting it a bit further up the field tomorrow.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Honda): “We just seemed to squeak through in the first round of qualifying and in the second, now that we had made it through the first, we thought we would be able to gain a little bit but frankly did the same lap time. I seemed to lose the balance a little bit but it’s not far off but it’s a game of inches nowadays and unfortunately we didn’t quite have enough today. The Midas / Big O Tires guys did a good job today though and the car feels pretty competitive. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
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