Pagenaud takes pole for 1st Detroit race

Simon Pagenaud
Simon Pagenaud

Roger Penske owns this race, literally and figuratively. Penske is the race promoter and of course his Chevy powered cars will start 1-2-3 for Race 1 of the Detroit GP doubleheader on Saturday.

Simon Pagenaud was the fastest at 1m14.9166s to narrowly beat his teammates Helio Castroneves and Juan Montoya in the Fast Six Shootout round.

The Hondas of James Hinchcliffe and Carlos Munoz rounded out the top-5.

The Indy 500 winning team of Andretti Autosport had very mixed results. While Carlos Munoz will start 5th, the teams other 3 cars were all eliminated in round 1. Ryan Hunter-Reay will start 15th, Alexander Rossi 17th and Marco Andretti 19th as the team continues to struggle with its street and road course setup.

"I knew the car would be good here because of the way it was in Long Beach (where he qualified third and won the April 17 race)," said Pagenaud, whose first of seven career Indy car wins came at Belle Isle in 2013. "Just great that we could extract the lap time out of it.

"Obviously there was a bit of strategy on our side with the Firestone tires," he added. "We chose to go on the black Firestone tires (in the Firestone Fast Six). They're working really well for us and it paid off, so I'm really, really delighted."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Pagenaud, who had a three-race winning streak snapped when he finished 19th in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 29, earned his fifth career Verizon IndyCar Series pole position and third this season. The 32-year-old Frenchman hasn't started worse than third on any road or street course in 2016. He took a 57-point championship lead into this weekend, which features the only doubleheader on the 2016 schedule.

Castroneves, a three-time Belle Isle race winner, shattered the track record in the second segment of qualifying with a top lap of 1:14.6899 (113.268 mph) in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. It was more than 1.5 seconds speedier than the old track record established a year ago by Team Penske's Will Power, but Castroneves couldn't match the lap in the Firestone Fast Six and will go off second in Saturday's race (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).

"I was supposed to do that track record on the last one, not the first one," joked Castroneves, who earned the first of his 29 career Indy car wins on Belle Isle in 2000. "But at the end of the day, you don't pick and choose. … At least starting on the front row is always good, so we'll go get them tomorrow."

Juan Pablo Montoya will start third in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet with a final-round lap of 1:15.5659 (111.955 mph). James Hinchcliffe, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, broke the Penske run up front by qualifying fourth (1:15.7708, 111.653 mph).

Row 3 will consist of Indy 500 runner-up Carlos Munoz in the No. 26 Magneti Marelli Honda (1:16.3897, 110.748 mph) and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet (1:16.4613, 110.644 mph). Both are past Belle Isle winners, Munoz in the first race of last year's Dual and Dixon in 2012 when a single race was run.

Twenty-two cars are slated to take the green flag Saturday. American Alexander Rossi, who won the Indianapolis 500 five days ago, will start 17th Saturday in the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda. The second race of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit takes place Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).

Quotes

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was really good to be honest with you. Our Verizon Chevy has been pretty good. We actually struggled a lot this morning. You look at how fast our teammates were, I was like 13th or 15th this morning, so we pretty much changed everything on the car, and it worked well. I mean, we felt we needed to do a lot of changes, and it worked pretty well."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "The boys did an unbelievable job. Simon (Pagenaud) just nipped me over there. But when I looked at the time and it was just one hundredth (of a second), oh, man, I would have squeezed a little something out there. But great job for the entire organization. (Race Engineer) Jonathan (Diuguid) gave me a phenomenal car since we started here this morning. I can't believe it. So close to get the number one spot. But that's okay."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "I'm really happy with qualifying. To get into the Firestone Fast Six two (road/street) races in a row is big for the Arrow Electronics team. Some of the other cars were really quick, but we managed to have enough there at the end of the second round and then a solid effort in the third round to put it on the second row. I'm very pleased with that and it gives us a good starting spot for tomorrow's race, but it's only half the job. We still have two races and another qualifying to go, but to come back here after missing last year and be able to get up to speed quickly, I can't thank (race engineer) Allen (McDonald) and the crew enough. The Arrow car was great off the truck and it's just allowing us to keep this momentum going."

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda): "I think the No. 7 SMP Racing and DOOM team worked really hard and we're starting 12th in the first half of the field. This is a pretty difficult race so anything can happen, but we have a good starting point. The track is really bumpy and I think that affects everyone, it's just very difficult to drive, but everybody is in the same boat. It's going to be a survivor's race, as always up here, but it's going to be fun."

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "We had a difficult qualifying session with this being just my first time here at this track. We had limited practice before the session, but I'm happy in that we improved a full second today. I think it's just a matter of track time and experience at a place like Detroit, and we'll get there and hopefully start moving up for the race as we get more laps under our belt in the Gallagher car."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "We had a bit of a throttle sensor issue that hampered us, so I think there is still some good speed left in the Target car, so that is encouraging. It was a good start to the weekend for us and the team, so we'll go back and do some more homework and hope to improve our position for the race tomorrow."

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "The No. 10 NTT DATA Chevrolet was definitely a Firestone Fast Six car, but I made a mistake on my fast lap that lost us a tenth of a second, which was enough to put me out of the top six. On the bright side though, we'll have better tires for the race tomorrow when these other guys are using another set of reds in the last qualifying session. Great job by the team getting the car ready for qualifying. We struggled quite a bit in practice this morning, so I'm just happy with the major improvements we made from practice to qualifying."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "It's just disappointing. The car was really good on blacks (primary tire) and I felt like we could have done something, but on the reds (alternate tire) it just went away from us as soon as I left the pits. There was nothing under me, no rear stability and the car felt like it was floating. Unfortunately, there is no testing, so you can't work with the reds. It's just frustrating. The Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Team will just have to regroup, hit the reset button and see what we can come up with for tomorrow's race."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "We were so quick this morning in practice than in qualifying. The Verizon Chevy touched the wall early on in qualifying, so we had to change the suspension. It was pretty intense out there. Wasn't quite the result we had hoped for. We'll just have to go into the race tomorrow and see what we can do."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "It's a little bit frustrating qualifying session for us because we have a pretty good car at the beginning of the qualifying session. We lost speed on the alternate (compound – red) tires which we couldn't figure out. We need to better understand this and hopefully tomorrow we get it right."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): "Getting a good balance is a challenging thing here. We had an unfortunate situation in qualifying as well. The bumps are so bad here that my left side seat belt actually came undone in both rounds, so we had to be pretty cautious because of that. I don't know why that's happening but the bumps between Turns 2 and 3 are so severe, the seatbelt is having an issue. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again. My (car) balance on the black Firestone is really good, but my balance on the reds just isn't very good so we've got a little bit of work to do there. Ultimately, on the blacks on the long run, the United Rentals car is very, very competitive so I feel pretty good going into tomorrow."

CONOR DALY (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd's Hospitality Honda): "We had a bit of an issue on our first run and it ruined the whole qualifying session for us, unfortunately. I couldn't get a feel for the car at all in my first outing and I had to come in and we reset a lot of things. When we went back out, we were gaining time exponentially, but it was already too late. It's such a small window and if you have one issue you've already set yourself back. It's a real shame because the car feels great, we just didn't get to use it."

GABBY CHAVES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "It was an interesting qualifying session. It was the first time back for me on a street course this year and I was really pushing, giving it 100 percent. I probably pushed a little too hard in some places and made some mistakes and I lost some time from it. I still think we have some work to do. We're putting our heads together now and seeing what we can do. It will be interesting to see the strategies that fall our way and what we can do to gain positions in the race tomorrow."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "It's good to be back in a car, it is a lot earlier than I expected so that's good. I'm having a good time with the team, but it was a tough day. This track is pretty difficult so there's a lot to learn. It's a new track and I'm in a new car, so I'm just trying to get up to speed with everything and figure it all out."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Preferred Freezer/Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "It was a tough day. I apologize to my guys, I set us back for tomorrow with that run. We had a good car and probably should have been fast enough to get into the top six today, I just tagged the wall and that caused the tire pressure to go down on the right rear. I wasn't able to get my optimum lap on the reds. It's tougher when you do something like that, it was my fault. Now we have to get it right for tomorrow and I'm sure we'll have a car that can fight for the win."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet): "The track is awesome. It's a real street fight out there. The No. 22 car was amazing with HP (Hewlett Packard), back on board with us. A lot of them are here this weekend so I'm glad we could do well for them. The team's just doing incredible and I'm glad we could keep the momentum going. Last week wasn't exactly what we wanted, but we're back. We were really strong during the race at the 500 but it is what it is, you can't always be up there. But, certainly, an awesome feeling today. What a cool track."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Magneti Marelli Honda): "I brushed the wall in Q2, and that held the car a lot for the Fast Six. We tried some stuff for the Fast Six, and it didn't work, but it's my first Fast Six with that like normal conditions, so just really happy. I was the best of the team, so I think it's a good position to start the race. I was here last year on the wet, and I think it's a good position to start the race. I think we still have work to do. I think I got everything out of the car. I think that was the limit. We saw that Team Penske was really strong here. We'll have to work a little bit more for tomorrow, practice."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "There's an accordion affect in qualifying sometimes. You get yourself into a gap, you make your home in that gap and then everybody's just got to go. (Sebastien) Bourdais, for some reason, went five seconds off the pace on that first lap. I have to understand why he did it; I've got to understand why it was necessary. I'll go talk to him and figure it out – he has plenty of experience so it's strange that would happen. But it cost me, and it cost Marco. It's going to be hard in traffic tomorrow. The track a bit rougher than it was last year, but we'll talk about it as a group and figure something out for the DHL team."

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda):"There's not much to say, because we had a problem with the steering so that was all she wrote. Obviously I've started at the front here and finished at the back, and I've started in the back and finished somewhere near the front, so we'll be starting at the back tomorrow and hopefully we can sort it out and go forward."

Rossi and his teammates continue to struggle on these tracks
Rossi and his teammates continue to struggle on these tracks

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 42 Tresiba Chevrolet):"Frankly I'm really happy with the bounce back from the No. 83 team. We had a few different gremlins this morning – just things we haven't ever seen before that we needed to deal with before qualifying. Overall I'm very happy to come away starting on the fourth row. I think we have a good opportunity to make moves forward during tomorrow's race and hopefully we can learn something from today's qualifying that we can take away for qualifying for Sunday's race."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): "(Qualifying) really surprises me. Based on where the teammates were in practice, I thought we'd be looking pretty good in qualifying. I felt really comfortable in that session in the NAPA car, compared to where I was in practice. It's disappointing. To be a group toward the bottom again, is not great. We need to keep working."

Results

Rank Car Driver Name Make Time Speed Session
1 22 Pagenaud, Simon CHEVY 01:14.9166 112.926 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
2 3 Castroneves, Helio CHEVY 01:14.9285 112.908 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
3 2 Montoya, Juan Pablo CHEVY 01:15.5659 111.955 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
4 5 Hinchcliffe, James HONDA 01:15.7708 111.653 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
5 26 Munoz, Carlos HONDA 01:16.3897 110.748 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
6 9 Dixon, Scott CHEVY 01:16.4613 110.644 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
7 10 Kanaan, Tony CHEVY 01:15.5508 111.978 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
8 83 Kimball, Charlie CHEVY 01:15.6712 111.799 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
9 12 Power, Will CHEVY 01:15.7142 111.736 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
10 15 Rahal, Graham HONDA 01:15.7172 111.732 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
11 14 Sato, Takuma HONDA 01:16.0998 111.170 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
12 7 Aleshin, Mikhail HONDA 01:16.2665 110.927 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
13 11 Bourdais, Sebastien CHEVY 01:16.1087 111.157 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
14 21 Newgarden, Josef CHEVY 01:16.3154 110.856 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
15 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan HONDA 01:16.2643 110.930 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
16 18 Daly, Conor HONDA 01:16.6370 110.391 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
17 98 Rossi, Alexander (R) HONDA 01:16.4512 110.659 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
18 8 Chilton, Max (R) CHEVY 01:16.7138 110.280 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
19 27 Andretti, Marco HONDA 01:16.4965 110.593 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
20 19 Chaves, Gabby HONDA 01:16.9140 109.993 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
21 20 Pigot, Spencer (R) CHEVY 01:17.6894 108.895 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
22 41 Hawksworth, Jack(R) Rookie HONDA 01:18.3918 107.919 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

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