Hinchcliffe wins Indy Lights pole in St. Pete
In Firestone Indy Lights qualifying, James Hinchcliffe earned his first career pole in the series with a top lap of 1:06.3497, 97.664. Rookie J.K. Vernay will join him on the front row after posting a top lap of 1:06.4814, 97.471.
Qualifying Saturday for the Grand Prix of St Petersburg Firestone Indy Lights event on the 1.8-mile Streets of St Petersburg Street Circuit, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, time and speed in parentheses:
1. (2) James Hinchcliffe, 1:06.3497 (97.664)
2. (7) JK Vernay, 1:06.4814 (97.471)
3. (29) Sebastian Saavedra, 1:06.6555 (97.216)
4. (17) Jan Heylen, 1:06.6848 (97.174)
5. (27) Martin Plowman, 1:06.9131 (96.842)
6. (77) James Winslow, 1:06.9307 (96.817)
7. (26) Charlie Kimball, 1:06.9909 (96.730)
8. (40) Jonathan Summerton, 1:07.2259 (96.391)
9. (49) Philip Major, 1:07.2481 (96.360)
10. (10) Gustavo Yacaman, 1:07.4998 (96.000)
11. (22) Adrian Campos Jr, 1:07.5035 (95.995)
12. (6) Junior Strous, 1:07.6581 (95.776)
13. (11) Pippa Mann, 1:07.8843 (95.457)
14. (28) Stefan Wilson, 1:08.3320 (94.831)
15. (4) Carmen Jorda, 1:08.8798 (94.077)
16. (18) Rodrigo Barbosa, no time (no speed)
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 TMR - Xtreme Coil Drilling, pole): "Pole is a fantastic place to start, and it's such a great way to start the season. Huge thanks to all the Team Moore guys. Our deal came together really late, but we were able to put together a great group of people. All their hard work paid off. Hopefully we can keep the car underneath us for 45 laps. Just a great way to start. I'm really, really pleased."
J.K. VERNAY (No. 7 Lucas Slick Mist/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, second): "Being on the first row is a good thing, but I really wanted to be on the pole because it is an advantage for the first corner here. It's not bad. We have the performance, and the car is really fast. We worked really well with my engineer (Tim Neff). I know I don't have to take too much risk because I need to score points for the championship, but we will see what happens tomorrow. I'm happy, but it would have been nice to win the pole for my first race."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 29 Bryan Herta Autosport, third): "It was a very interesting qualifying session. I had an incredible car coming out of the second practice session, but with the temperature, the track was really slippery. We had to make some changes to compensate, but we were right there. A lot of people were nervous for those last 10 minutes. There was a very critical three minutes to go, and I was trying to save to try to do my best, but a yellow flag didn't let me. I think third place is good. I am going to try to keep it safe for the first corner and go for it in the race."
STEFAN WILSON (No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport, 14th): "I had quite a bit of understeer in the first half of the session. We came in and made a good change, and the car felt really good. We made it up into the top five on old tires, and I was feeling really confident for when we put new tires on that we were going to get right up there. I just tried pushing a bit too hard on these old tires. I went into Turn 8 and went for the downshift, and I might have had a gearbox problem because I couldn't get down the gears. I went down to second gear very late on, and it just took the rear of the car out and then it sent me into a spin and into the wall. It is very disappointing for the whole team. I think we were quick enough to be in the top three. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow, but I think we will have a good race car. I had a similar thing last year, so I am used to passing on this circuit. Hopefully, I will be able to make this up in the race."