Hunter-Reay wins pole in Sao Paolo
Hunter-Reay won the pole by a rather comfortable 0.3 sec over his Andretti Autosport teammate EJ Viso. It was his first pole in Brazil.
"I gave it everything I had and it's great to get the DHL Chevrolet up front again and on pole," said Hunter-Reay, the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion who has a pair of runner-up finishes on the 2.536-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit. "That's three of the four races this year that we've been on the front row and twice on pole. I'm so happy for the guys and everything they've done for me.
"Starting on pole here is a challenge because you are a sitting duck out front on the long straights."
Dario Franchitti will start 3rd. Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe and Scott Dixon rounded out the top-6.
Three-time Sao Paulo race winner Will Power and current IZOD IndyCar Series championship leader Helio Castroneves were caught out by an untimely red flag during Saturday’s qualifying session and, as a result, both Team Penske drivers will start deep in the field for Sunday’s Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300.
Power, who led both practice sessions Saturday and set an at-the-time track record lap of 80.9264 seconds, had completed only a warm-up lap when a blown engine on the car driven by James Jakes caused a red flag and a lengthy delay during the first round of Saturday’s qualifying session. Power had the 11th-fastest lap of the round in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet around the 11-turn, 2.536-mile street circuit and Power will start in an unfamiliar 22nd position in Sunday’s race.
“Tough break today to not be able to qualify the way we wanted. It’s especially bad because the Verizon car had been so quick all day,” said Power, who started fifth once and on the pole twice for his three wins on the streets of Sao Paulo. “We felt pretty good going into the qualifying and unfortunately didn’t have time to run the lap we wanted after doing a lap on the blacks (Firestone Tires).”
Team Penske teammate Castroneves will start 18th after a lap of 85.1734 in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. A native of Sao Paulo, Castroneves returned home with a six-point lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship standings, marking the second consecutive event he has entered as the championship leader.
“Today was very frustrating. We try to not leave at the last minute to get caught in one of those situations but unfortunately today was our turn,” said Castroneves, who will look to improve his career-best finish at the Brazilian circuit of fourth in 2012. “It was a very unusual scenario and I hate it for the entire Hitachi team because the Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet was running really well, especially in the practices earlier today.”
“I’m shocked about our result but we never say never and will give it all we have tomorrow,” added Castroneves. “Our focus will be ending the race still on top of the points.”
Power has dominated the Sao Paulo street circuit, winning all three IndyCar races there, including leading all 75 laps of last year’s race.
“Now we turn the focus to doing the best we can tomorrow and getting the most out of the points,” concluded Power.
Josef Newgarden, who was 17th overall through the morning practice sessions, did not make a qualifying attempt because the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team was changing the Honda engine in the No. 67 entry. He will start 25th.
The race will be televised live at 11 a.m. (ET) by the NBC Sports Network (Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211 and www.indycar.com.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "I gave it everything I had and it's great to get the DHL Chevrolet up front again and on pole. That's three of the four races this year that we've been on the front row and twice on pole. I'm so happy for the guys and everything they've done for me. Tomorrow's when the challenge though. We thought we had a good car at Long Beach, and once we got into the race, I knew we were challenged and would be for the rest of the day. We need to make sure we've fixed those things this time and go out and have a great race. Starting on pole here is a challenge because you are a sitting duck out front on the long straights."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela/Andretti Autosport/HVM Chevrolet): "I'm definitely feeling much better after today's qualifying. To be starting on this track on the front row is great. I'm very grateful for the great car that team gave me today. It was good enough for the front row, and I have a lot of faith in them that tomorrow we are going to have a good car in the race that is going to stay and keep that pace. Congratulations to my teammate Ryan - he did a great job and I'm very happy for him to get the pole position."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Lexar Honda): "It wasn't a bad day for us really. We made consistent progress with the car, just getting used to the track. The track here changes a lot because it's so dusty to start with. The balance of the car changes a lot. We worked very hard to do that. Even with a perfect lap, I think we would have struggled to beat Ryan on the new red tires. Left a little bit on the table a couple places. But it's good to be in the Firestone Fast Six again, to start close to the front again. We'll see what we can do tomorrow.
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Itaipava KV Racing Technology-SH Racing): "It was a great team effort by KV. We had a great car from the get go, but there was no way I could beat those guys that had sticker reds during the Fast Six. It was a disadvantage not having the new Firestones, but you know, they got it by luck because of how their qualifying group went on. I'm happy. This is my home race, we have the fans cheering and the backing from my local sponsor. Starting in fourth in a street course is not bad at all and I think it's going to be weird seeing just three cars in front of me at the start."
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "We were working on the Acorn Stairlifts car all day and made some improvements before qualifying but we went out to make a run and had a problem with the engine. We're not quite sure what it is right now but we will identify it and try to come up with a solution. If we have a good car we will be able to pass and there are a few places to pass on this track so that should help but this is obviously not ideal."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "This morning it felt a little bit better, pace-wise. When we went to the red tires in Q1 we struggled a bit, we didn't get to run much on them because of the reds. In Q2 the car was fine, but we struggled a little bit with overall grip. Then in Q3, of the Fast Six, on all three laps I messed up the turn-one through turn-two complex and gave up two or three tenths in that one section so had to spend the last part of the lap trying to pull it back. I think the car is pretty good. We'll just have to see tomorrow when the cars are trimmed out."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Honda): "It was a little disappointing for the No. 83 car today. We were struggling a bit with the feel here; this place is really low-grip. In qualifying we didn't quite get the best out of the tires and maximize that one lap on sticker reds. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team has a good plan for tomorrow. I think we've got some changes to make to the car overnight. The guys will go back and look at it, and I'm going to work a bit on the sections where I'm losing time. We'll be in good shape when the race starts tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "Today was very frustrating, we try to not leave the last minute to get caught in one of those situations but unfortunately today was our turn. It was a very unusual scenario and I hate it for the entire Hitachi team because the Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet was running really well, especially in the practices earlier today. I'm shocked about our result but we never say never and will give it all we have tomorrow."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "Tough break today to not be able to qualify the way we wanted, its especially bad because the Verizon car had been so quick all day. We felt pretty good going into the qualifying and unfortunately didn't have time to run the lap we wanted after doing a lap on the blacks (Firestone Tires). Now we turn the focus to doing the best we can tomorrow and getting the most out of the points."
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 blu eCigs Honda: "We started off right where we wanted to be, pretty competitively; the blu eCigs car felt pretty good. Unfortunately as the track gripped up, the handling started to go away from us a little bit. We tried to chase it between Practice 2 and qualifying and unfortunately we put some wing back in it for qualifying and it looks like it cost us. But the timing of the red flag killed us though. So instead of starting where we have been starting -- around 13th place, because that's what lap time we did -- we're going to start near the back. It's pretty frustrating because we had a pretty good car this morning, we just lost it a bit. We're going to have to do some work overnight here. I think there will be some opportunities to move up between strategy and passing. We're going to have to do everything we can to make up the positions."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "Well, that was a pretty weird qualifying session today. A crash halts the first group in the first round and a blown engine stops the second group. We always try to go out early and collect a lap or two in case something brings out the red flag. And that is what happened today. We just missed advancing to the next group in seventh, but our Fuzzy's Chevy is working better with each run. The weather should be okay for the race this time. A lot of things can happen Sunday. We'll be ready to go when they drop the green flag."
JUSTIN WILSON (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda):"I was very pleased with the car today. The team did a great job giving me a fast car today and I can't say enough good things about the car. We just missed advancing to the Firestone Fast Six, but I am happy with a ninth place starting position in the race tomorrow. It should be a very competitive race and we are looking forward to keeping up the momentum we have built through the first three races this season. I think the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda has a good chance of winning the race on Sunday."
ANA BEATRIZ (#18 Ipiranga Honda): "I am very happy with starting 16th in tomorrow's race. The No. 18 Ipiranga Honda was very good today. I think we would have a good chance to advance to the Firestone Fast 12 if it wasn't for the red flag and it shortening group 2 qualifying today. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and hopefully a top 10 finish for all the Brazilian fans."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy KVRT Chevrolet): "I think we had a pretty strong car, but I don't feel like we got a really good lap out of it because there at the end Viso kind of got in our way. He kind of stopped and I thought I was going to gap so that I could get an extra lap and then he went around the corner and totally slowed down into turn one so we didn't get those two laps. It was really frustrating because he was on a straightaway and he knows he was slow. But, we start eighth and I think we can be ok with that. I think we'll definitely have a little bit more tires than the six guys in front of us, so hopefully we can make some positions up and go race. I feel like we're pretty strong overall so hopefully it'll be a good race tomorrow.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet): "You like to be in the Firestone Fast Six, but obviously there was a bit more pace if you look at the teammates. Ryan's a different deal - with what happened with him and the tires… he didn't luck out, he earned it, but definitely caught a break with Q1 getting through on blacks. E.J. is really the star of the show to me. He did a hell of a job on that second run. I tapped the wall on my fast lap in Q3 - probably cost us little bit of time. Probably could have been an Andretti Autosport one-two-three, so I feel bad I let the team down in that respect. I think we've got a solid race car; we can definitely race from fifth tomorrow. We just need to keep our nose clean and finish. The last couple of evens have been hard and we've got to get the GoDaddy car Chevy back up front."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda): "I think the fact that we missed this race last year in the new car and having a very short weekend, we've been scrambling to get up to speed with everybody else. I think by the time we get to the race, we'll be right where we need to be. It's a similar pattern for every race. We're always very quick in the race but we need to get a little bit better in qualifying. There are a lot of good guys where we're starting. I think if we have good strategy, we can do what we did in Long Beach."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "A difficult day for us. We couldn't pick up the good speed and balance. We lost something. It was very difficult to get it all put together. It's a shame. The guys have been working very hard but we just couldn't find the good grip and balance. Tonight we'll review everything and hopefully we'll find improvements for the race."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "We got very lucky in the first segment. But the car isn't bad. We're just still fighting understeer. There's a mystery somewhere. The car is very comfortable but it's not fast enough. We just don't have the front grip. The guys did a really nice job fixing it and putting it back together after the incident in the second practice where we had a clutch issue. Thumbs up to the team. Hopefully it's a turning point of our season but it's far from over yet."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "We feel like it went pretty well. We left a little bit on the table in Q2, got caught out by some shifting issues. I think we were a little bit behind the curve on trimming the cars out, so I think maybe we just were losing some kind of free lap time on the straights, but the car's been quite good all day. I think we should be set up for a good race. We qualified 11th and I think we're faster than that, so if we can just figure out how to get set up and get on a good strategy we should be good tomorrow." (About mix of drivers qualifying up front and how it affects competition in the race): "It's going to be tough, because it's definitely a place you can pass, so whether it's us making our way up the field or guys like Will and Helio stuck all the way at the back, it's definitely a place that you don't have to rely on some wicked fuel strategy to get yourself ahead of guys. It's going to be really important tomorrow that you're actually fast in the race to end up at the front, because like there are some cars in the back that are quick, I think there are cars in the front that might end up dropping like a rock. We'll see how it goes, and around here it's always a trade-off between how much you trim out to have a good car on the straights to how long you can make your tires last. Depending on where yellows fall and all that kind of stuff, that could be a big drama one way or the other by the time we get to the end."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther DRR Chevrolet): "I think the track is a lot more fun by changing the first corner a little bit, for us and the fans. It's just definitely gotten a lot faster and I think it's more spectacular. The session went well, we definitely wanted to advance to the next round and unfortunately we didn't. The red came at the wrong time for I think everybody, and it was a weird session. We have a good car for tomorrow, it is a place that you can pass more than any other place with the long straight, so it will be an exciting race."
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