Hunter-Reay nabs pole for Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
Team Penske's Will Power will start tomorrow's race second, posting at time 0.18 second slower than Hunter-Reay. Scott Dixon winner of the last three IndyCar races, and four of the last 6 races at Mid-Ohio, will start third.
Marco Andretti, Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti rounded out the top-6.
Other notables include James Hinchliffe, who will start 13th. Championship leader Helio Castroneves will start 15th. Hometown favorite Graham Rahal had a forgettable qualifying session and will start tomorrow's race 22nd.
Advancing to the Fast Six were Power, Andretti, Hunter-Reay, Dixon, Franchitti and Kimball.
There are six races left in the season and Hunter-Reay is third in the standings (68 points behind front-runner Helio Castroneves).
"Last year we clawed back from bigger deficits," he said. "Being late in the season, we need to go like we did last year at the end of the season, which is go for broke. We're not interested in banking results right now and going for second or third in the championship because nobody really remembers who finishes second a couple of years from now.
"We're going for it. Hopefully this is the first step in it. But we have a long way to go, including tomorrow's fight for the win. It's going to be a long, hard race going up against the Ganassi, Penske boys and my teammates as well."
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
7 a.m. Garages open
(Hunter-Reay On his strategy in qualifying) It took a lot of guts to do that strategy there. We put ourselves at risk there in that middle session to go on used reds against a field this competitive, but the risk paid off. That was definitely the most nerve-wracking part of that session, going out on used reds.
(Hunter-Reay On if the car has been good all week or if they made a lot of changes from testing) We’ve been working on it steadily, but the track conditions, you know it’s been raining and then the track comes back, and then it rains overnight, so it’s been a big engineering exercise trying to stay on top of the grip of the track, but as always these guys have done a great job. Hopefully we can put the weekend together and have a good one here. I love Mid-Ohio, and it’s great to have the No. 1 DHL Chevy on top.
(Hunter-Reay On wanting to finally get a win here) Absolutely, that’s the one thing I’m missing. I’ve finished on podium here a bunch, started on the front row before but never had the chance to win this race, I’ve never won this race. We need to bring it home, for the championship too. It’s going to be a long, hard race tomorrow going up against the Ganassi, Penske boys and my teammates as well.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet) Verizon P1 Award: (On his strategy in qualifying) “It took a lot of guts to do that strategy there. We put ourselves at risk there in that middle session to go on used reds against a field this competitive, but the risk paid off. That was definitely the most nerve-wracking part of that session, going out on used reds.” (On if the car has been good all week or if they made a lot of changes from testing) “We’ve been working on it steadily, but the track conditions, you know it’s been raining and then the track comes back, and then it rains overnight, so it’s been a big engineering exercise trying to stay on top of the grip of the track, but as always these guys have done a great job. Hopefully we can put the weekend together and have a good one here. I love Mid-Ohio, and it’s great to have the No. 1 DHL Chevy on top.” (On wanting to finally get a win here) “Absolutely, that’s the one thing I’m missing. I’ve finished on podium here a bunch, started on the front row before but never had the chance to win this race, I’ve never won this race. We need to bring it home, for the championship too. It’s going to be a long, hard race tomorrow going up against the Ganassi, Penske boys and my teammates as well.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): “It was a great effort by all the Chip Ganassi Racing guys. There were as many red shirts from the Target side in the garage as there were orange shirts. They gave me the easy job of driving the racecar. They kept kicking me out of the garage, telling me to get out of the way. All I had to do while they changed the backup was get the car ready for me and all I had to do was go out and drive it. The boys deserved it. We had a really good car all week, both starting at the test and yesterday's practice. This morning we just got caught out by the track conditions, a little dampness under the bridge. That was unfortunate, but it was great to bounce back and get a top-five starting spot.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Quite uneventful, you could say, getting the most out of the tires. Really happy to be second. Tough to try to get pole when (Ryan) Hunter-Reay had new reds. Yeah, still very good. I would love to get a win sometime this year if it's possible. But, you know, I can be quite aggressive because I'm not in the championship and the guys around me are. I just need to go for it and see what I can get.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I don’t know whether it’s the heat or whatever, but the balance has been tough for me to find. We had to make a few on the spot changes to get through Q1 and Q2 and then onto the Firestone Fast 6. In the Firestone Fast 6 the car had a pretty decent balance. Good starting spot for us in P3.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “The second segment went pretty well. Got a little ambitious in the Firestone Fast Six. We left a little bit late from the box there. That put us behind. I went off on the one lap I got in the exit on turn one. Lost some time there. My time was set on the black tires. When we came around, got the checkered flag, we missed the next lap by less than a second. That was disappointing. Definitely there was more speed in the car than we got to show there in the Firestone Fast Six, so we'll see what we can do tomorrow.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "James (Davison) was in a hurry when the session started and went by and then decided he was going to back up. He was warming up the tires all the way down the backstretch. I started to go around him going into Turn 4. He about hit me into the grass so I was going to go around him in five. He was going to the left to set up for six and turned right back in the front of me when I was making a run on him into six. I've been there. There's a lot going on. But he's not paying attention to what's going on. If that's how he's going to drive tomorrow, he's going to end up getting run in to. I'm really just disappointed. We'd struggled yesterday and had really made good improvements this morning and the way that worked out, we broke a front wing, had to come in, and by the time we got everything fixed, we ran the least amount of laps that session than anybody. All you have to do is watch the way these sessions have gone. The track gets quicker every single lap. It wasn't a good session for us."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Sunoco-Turbo KVRT-SH Racing Chevrolet): “Obviously I am disappointed and frustrated. We worked hard to improve the car during the practice sessions and we thought we had a top-10 car, but things just didn’t work out that way. We have to sit down, take a look at the data and make some changes. It is going to be a long race tomorrow. Hopefully we can improve the car and come up with a strategy that will get us back to the front.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "I'm very happy with the car. I think we found what we need to because the car is very fast. We just missed the Firestone Fast 6 because we made a minor adjustment right before going out. I have to say the competition is just fierce here. One little change on the car can upset you as a driver and I didn't adapt quick enough so we didn't put the car where it needed to be. We're definitely fast enough to be up there so we'll take eighth today and have a strong race tomorrow."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "It’s very rare when you finish qualifying feeling the way I feel – where you don’t transfer - but the car is so good. I’m really happy with the National Guard Chevy and had what I needed; it’s just so tight that we missed transferring by half of a tenth. It’s just one of those things where you need to hit everything right, and on my second (hot) lap I was already two-tenths down a few corners in, but on the third corner I just tried a little too hard and l lost the rear. It’s amazing what IndyCar is today and what it takes to be up front, and this year is very special. But I’m really happy with the work we’ve done, I had the engineers here working until late, and the car is really good. You know with this place it’s hard to overtake and the way they’ve done the length of the race I’m not sure there’s room for multiple strategies. You never know what could happen, I’ve got a good car and hopefully we can get up front and make the National Guard proud."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): “P9 is definitely one of the better qualifying efforts we’ve had lately and I think we can be okay with that. We made a few changes and learned from it, so that was a good thing. We’ve been far away from this for a long time and now it’s really good to be back. We’ve worked really well through the weekend and just missed it by a little bit; I think it was a tenth to get into the fast six. We have a little more work, but we feel pretty confident. We have a really good pace and with where we’re starting hopefully we can finish up front. A top-ten would be huge for us. We started off the season so well and then hit a little bit of a slump, so now it’s really time to get it back on track and I feel that’s what we’re doing. My team is really good and we’re working really hard and that’s what counts right now.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Angie’s List Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It’s been a tough stretch of races for us lately so we were happy to advance out of the first group. Unfortunately the second round didn’t go as we were hoping. I knew I had to push it a step further to make Firestone Fast 6 but I made a few little mistakes. The tires are designed not to last that long so if you make a mistake on your flying lap you’re in trouble. The car was good though and I’m very happy to have Angie’s List on board starting this weekend. Overall it was a good qualifying effort and we’ll be ready to race to the front tomorrow.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “I’m reasonably happy with starting seventh. I was hoping to break into the Firestone Fast Six. I love this track at Mid-Ohio and I was hoping we could do it here. But we just missed out. We’ll go away and work at it and see if we can get a little bit more speed and try to get a balance and work out where I can improve and hopefully come back tomorrow and challenge for the win. I’m really looking forward to the race I think it’s going to be a tough hard fought-out race. It’s going to be about speed, fuel economy, strategy and a little bit of luck and hopefully we can put it all together.”
JAMES JAKES (No.16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "I knew in the morning session that our lap time was not really where we were competition-wise. I had a bit of confidence in the car, I wasn’t sure how quick we could go but I knew it wasn’t where we ended up in that session. We had to be patient and put the lap together in qualifying. The car is still not perfect but the guys have been doing a great job to get us from where we were to where we are now. Hopefully we can make that jump again and get a real good car for tomorrow. I am happy about our progress. Its days like this -- especially those times when you’re in a battle for a championship -- that you aren’t competitive and you’ve really got to pull some things out of a hat and pull it off. It was nice to get in the top-10. Now let’s get even higher."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires Honda): “Practice was cut short (in the morning practice) and I don’t think we got a ton of work done there. I’m just trying to learn some things and we’re out of time. We tried to use practice this morning as a bit of a test session since we didn’t get to run in the test session on Wednesday. Unfortunately that really put us back. All the things we are trying to do right now would have been nice to do last Wednesday but we’re doing them now unfortunately. To win from the back here is near impossible. I started in the back last year and fought hard all day to get in the top-11. There is nothing else that we can do but continue to fight hard.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “We lost a lot of track time since yesterday so we had a fairly limited time to prepare for qualifying. We tried really hard to put everything together and I think we performed well under the circumstances but since it’s a very tight field, we missed by 1 and a half tenths to advance to the next round of qualifying. It was a shame but at least now we know how the ABC Supply car is performing so we can continue to improve the car for tomorrow’s warm-up.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “Of course we would have loved to be on the pole. Starting 15th is not ideal when you’re going into the race as the points leader. We will need to work out a new strategy since we still start towards the rear of the field but the PPG guys are working hard to make the right changes to the car. Fortunately, for us today is only Saturday and the race will be tomorrow. We’re going to try something different because what we were planning on doing tomorrow strategy wise won’t work with as far back as we will have to start. We have not given up hope yet, tomorrow will be a long race and I know we’ll be able to make it back up.”
JAMES HINCHCILFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet): “It was only about a tenth we missed it by and we had that on two different laps; the car had that and I made little mistakes. It’s the nature of the business with this qualifying format, you only get a couple laps to have a crack at it. We went out early and did an extra lap, but like I said, twice we had a car good enough to advance and just didn’t get it done. I feel bad for the guys, the GoDaddy Chevy is quicker than that. It’s a shame.”
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