Mutoh wins Indy Pro pole at Indy
Hideki Mutoh earned his first career Indy Pro Series pole position, winning the SWE Pole Award for Race 1 of the Liberty Challenge on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mutoh, who ranks second in points as a rookie in the Indy Pro Series, posted a time of 1 minute, 25.281 seconds, 109.966 mph on the 13-turn, 2.605-mile road course. The lap was faster than Graham Rahal's record pole speed of 1:25.5810 of a year ago.
Mutoh's previous best start in the No. 55 Panther Racing entry came at the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway when he qualified third.
Alex Lloyd, winner of the first five races this season, will start second in the 18-lap race. Lloyd's best lap was 1:25.552, 109.618 mph in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
Lloyd has started second in two of his victories this season, including the Freedom 100 on the oval at Indianapolis in May when he led all 40 laps to take the checkered flag.
Richard Antinucci, nephew of former Formula One competitor and 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr., qualified third for his third Indy Pro Series race.
Brian Stewart Racing's Bobby Wilson will start fourth while Andretti Green Racing's Jaime Camara qualified fifth.
Stephen Simpson, Jonathan Klein, Wade Cunningham, Ryan Justice and Daniel Herrington round out the top 10 of the 25-car field.
A second 18-lap race will take place on June 17. The winner of Race 1 will participate in a blind draw to determine how many of the highest-finishing cars will be inverted to start Race 2 - 0, 4, 6, or 8.
POST QUALIFYING QUOTES:
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 55 Panther Racing, qualified first): "The quick lap was on the limit. No mistakes. The car was so good. I just tried not to push too much. I knew Alex had potential to catch me. This is my fastest time on the track. I'm still learning where I can push and not." (What do you do in the first turn to hold off Alex Lloyd, who has won the last five races and who is sharing the front row?): "I want to race really fair. I don't want to bash wheels or anything like that. I just want to drive fair and have a good and safe race."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems/SSM, second): "It's going to be difficult. We ran pretty well today. We started off the beginning of the first run in the 45-minute session, and we were nowhere. We struggled. We made some big changes during the session, and that certainly helped. We were a lot quicker toward the end, but still my lap was as hard as I could go and we still came up three-tenths short. Today we didn't quite have the pace. I'm hoping with a few changes overnight we can close it up a bit. We were pretty strong, but Hideki was quicker. We're on the front row. That's where we've been all year. I was on the front row, second last year, so I know it's a tough race and a lot can happen. We'll see if we can find some speed tonight, and we'll see if we have anything for Hideki tomorrow. That lap time was the best we could get out of the car. We used every little last bit we had. I was surprised we got as close as we did."
RICHARD ANTINUCCI (No. 51 Cheever Racing, third): "It was a little scrappy, to be honest. We came away with third, and we're very happy. It's quite tight from third onward. We were right there with first place this morning with Mutoh, but he and Lloyd seemed to gain more time. It's not the best of qualifying, but coming away with third place gives us a very good shot tomorrow and everything to play for. The heat affected us already and caught us off guard from morning to qualifying. All of the staff, including myself, have never worked on an IPS car. And we've never been here before. It was all new territory. Only a 30-minute practice, and it was kind of like throwing the dice on what to expect with the Formula One rubber on the track. I was slipping and sliding all over. We have to dial it in. I'm looking forward to the car working well."
JAIME CAMARA (No. 11 Osofresh, fifth): "We picked up a bit of time, but it was not what I wanted. I think we can do better. We had a lot of traffic outside. With such a short time, it's hard to put a lap together. I'm happy about fifth. I am not saying it's not good, but I think I could start on the front row or on the top three. I am just going to do a good race, a consistent race, tomorrow and try to get to the front and fight for the win at the end. It's a quick race, a sprint race, only 18 laps so the best you can do is to drive hard from the first lap to the last lap to see what you've got."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., eighth): "It's a really low-downforce track. On the frontstretch, though, it's good to have an oval downforce setup. However, it makes the car a lot more difficult to drive. It makes the setup a bit of a compromise because you have to be really quick on the straight. You have to be a little bit lucky in qualifying and hope you get a little bit of a tow. We've got some work to do, but history shows I've raced well here."
PHIL GIEBLER (No. 12 Playa Del Racing, 12th): "It's a bit of a mystery right now on why we are struggling for speed because I am catching everybody in the corners. But on the first two-thirds of the track when I come around that last turn and all the way down the straightaway. I'm losing six car lengths. So it's a bit frustrating. We don't know what it is. We trimmed out the wing to get some speed. But something is holding us up. It's a little frustrating. The team is definitely capable of more. So, just frustrating for the whole Playa Del Racing team. But I'm sure we will get the Ethos car up there up there in the race and in the points."
1. (55) Hideki Mutoh, 109.966
2. (7) Alex Lloyd, 109.618
3. (51) Richard Antinucci, 109.066
4. (1) Bobby Wilson, 109.015
5. (11) Jaime Camara, 108.925
6. (24) Stephen Simpson, 108.912
7. (2) Jonathan Klein, 108.859
8. (27) Wade Cunningham, 108.796
9. (38) Ryan Justice, 108.605
10. (44) Daniel Herrington, 108.470
11. (23) Logan Gomez, 108.292
12. (12) Phil Giebler, 108.283
13. (13) Robbie Pecorari, 108.142
14. (53) Mike Potekhen, 108.003
15. (9) Chris Festa, 107.860
16. (5) Andrew Prendeville, 107.402
17. (3) Brad Jaeger, 107.247
18. (4) Sean Guthrie, 107.231
19. (54) Micky Gilbert, 106.601
20. (52) Ken Losch, 106.026
21. (15) Joey Scarallo, 105.135
22. (6) Marc Williams, 104.628
23. (40) Tom Wieringa, 103.669
24. (34) Jon Brownson, 102.883
25. (8) Doug Boyer, 106.893*
*Time disallowed for causing a full-course caution.