Castroneves wins pole at Long Beach

Helio Castroneves celebrates pole position
Helio Castroneves celebrates pole position

With a lap time of 1:07.1246s, Helio Castroneves placed the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California on pole position for tomorrow's 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It was the Brazilian's 48th career pole, second of 2016, and third at Long Beach.

Defending Long Beach winner Scott Dixon was second, three-tenths slower than Castroneves, with series championship leader Simon Pagenaud third. Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power completed a Chevrolet sweep of the Firestone Fast Six.

Power, who led this morning's practice session, lost his two quickest laps after going off course at turn 9 and bringing out a red flag during the Firestone Fast Six.

James Hinchcliffe continued to enjoy a good weekend, posting the fastest time of the Honda runners. The Canadian will start tomorrow's race seventh. Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden and Carlos Munoz completed the top-10.

Dale Coyne Racing drivers Luca Filippi and Conor Daly had strong qualifying runs in Long Beach on Saturday, respectively placing 12th and 13th on the starting grid for Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Castroneves
Castroneves

Filippi, who went out in Group 2, put in a fastest lap of 1:07.6214 in Round 1, which initially placed him fifth in his group. The Italian ended up seventh at the end of the session, however, he made it back into the Top 6 when Sebastien Bourdais’ final lap was disallowed for having taken the checkered flag twice.

The Boy Scouts of America driver then went out in the final five minutes of Round 2 to try and make it into the Firestone Fast Six, but a mistake on the start of his final lap meant that he’d have to settle with his quickest lap of 1:07.9303 and a 12th place in the starting lineup.

Daly, also put in a solid qualifying effort, spending most of the 10-minute Group 1 session in the Top 6, improving his time with every lap. However, he was relegated to seventh once all drivers had taken the checkered flag. The driver of the Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality car missed out on Round 2 of qualifying by a mere 0.041 seconds with a fastest lap of 1:07.7520.

QUOTES

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet): "I am very happy, first of all, for the AAA car. We have been good all weekend long. We have been working together all weekend long. I want to say Team Penske probably had the upper hand. You know, at the end of the day, the No. 3 had the top spot. They said it's better to be lucky than good and we planned very well. Will (Power) was definitely in a league of his own and he seems to be putting in phenomenal laps. But in the end, putting on red tires, you saw (Scott) Dixon up there and just saw (Tony) Kanaan up there, Juan Pablo (Montoya) and Simon (Pagenaud). You know, it was a mix but I will take it. The AAA and Team Penske did a phenomenal job. Hey, it's the right spot to start so let's keep it."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "Today was a really good day. We rolled off the truck with a good car on Friday and I'm really proud of the Arrow Electronics guys for the prep that they did because the car was a rocket right from the get-go. We've just been making little tweaks to it, trying to get into a position to be fighting for the Firestone Fast Six, and we did. We finished seventh. We kind of got screwed a little bit with the way that the Timing and Scoring system failed but it is what it is. We saved a run on a set of reds, which could be a benefit for the race. We're starting on the inside, which is great. It's such a turnaround from the race in Phoenix two weeks ago. There are a lot of reasons to be happy today and I'm proud of the guys. Hopefully we can just move forward in the race."

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "The qualifying didn't go how we expected it to go, but the race is going to be long and we just need to get used to red tires, and be optimistic."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "It was a lot better than this morning. We were definitely struggling, but yeah, once we got the car dialed in in qualifying, especially Q2, it was pretty much just a scenario of good old-fashioned front wing. We just kept adding front wing in the car, just kept going faster. Obviously kudos to Team Penske and Helio (Castroneves), sticking to his running two sets of reds in Q3 and that time sticking. Unfortunately I think we definitely had speed to go for the pole, so we missed on that a little bit, but it's definitely going to be an interesting race tomorrow. The competition is so tight, and definitely looking forward to it, but it's great to have TK here and obviously two Ganassi cars in the top six."

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet): "We really struggled in practice yesterday and this morning, but things came together for the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet in qualifying today. We made a change after the morning practice and it was obviously a change in the right direction. We're really happy with where we're starting tomorrow and it's great to have two Ganassi cars up front for tomorrow's race. Hopefully we'll be able to pull off a win tomorrow!"

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 California Baptist University-KVSH Chevrolet): "I am disappointed for the guys. They worked really hard. On the replay you can see that the checkered flag falls behind me, but apparently the checkered flag is not in sync with timing and scoring. As far as I am concerned I didn't go by the checkered flag twice. It is just different reference points. We thought we were clear, but apparently I wasn't. We also have a new sponsor here, California Baptist University and some of their engineering students, so I feel bad for them. Qualifying 14th will definitely make tomorrow's race a lot more difficult. We will have to come up with something during the race if we are going to have a good result."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I wouldn't say I locked up, but I kind of went a bit deep and didn't want to take a risk and hit the wall and tried to spin it back around. I thought it was all over then anyway because once you cause a yellow you lose your best two laps. But that's OK. I always seem to start way back. It's not way back this year. It's a lot better than the previous two or three years. At least I'm in the top six."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda):
"I think we should be happy with the result under the circumstances. We had difficulty in this morning's practice but in qualifying we caught up to the quickest Hondas. It was a shame it was a couple tenths down from the top six especially because we had a little confusion in the second segment when we didn't have any lap times for reference. So I needed to keep pushing and I feel I lost a little bit because I caught up to the car ahead of me and had to lift on my final lap which was my fastest lap. But I think the ABC Supply team and engineering did a great job to make the car faster. After practice we went through all the data and came up with a different philosophy on the setup. I'm very proud of them. We'll aim to have a clean and strong race tomorrow."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 PennGrade Motor Oil Honda): "Hats off to my guys for getting the PennGrade car repaired. We thought we would be able to advance in qualifying but that wasn't the case. The car was the same as this morning but in certain areas the balance was OK, but that was as good of a lap as I could have done. There was nowhere on the lap that I thought I gave up some time. In Turn 9, I had a couple of big moments again. We just have to find a little overall grip. It seemed like the reds (Firestone alternate tires) change my car quite severely. Even at the start of the session I was struggling a little bit but the blacks (primary tires) seemed more consistent for me than when I went to the reds. I just feel bad for the guys. They worked hard to get the car ready for qualifying. We thought we had a good horse but we'll work on it for the race."

CONOR DALY (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd's Hospitality Honda): "We were close and that's the thing. I'm hugely thankful for the progress that we've made. To be nearly last in the qualifying at St. Pete, same in Phoenix, it's very cool to be fighting for the Top 12 group now and that's what our goal is, to keep improving. It's cool that we've done that. It was really close. Hopefully at Barber we can make it into the Top 12 next time. I think we have a great car for tomorrow and that it will come down to who can make the Firestone reds last the longest and the most efficiently. I don't know how that is going to work out but hopefully it works out in our favor."

LUCA FILIPPI (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "We had a solid first round and the Boys Scouts of America car was working very well. I think we were very close to the guys on top. We made good progress. We still have a lot to learn, but it's nice to see that that we're working in the right direction. I felt confident which is important for the race tomorrow. In the Fast 12, I made a mistake closing the lap and opening the last one so it would have been difficult to improve because I had a slow start to the last lap, so I just came in. With getting to the Fast 12 we can actually now think differently about the race for tomorrow because we have fast guys in front of us and we can maybe just work our pace more than a strategy. It will be important to have a strong pace."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "We didn't qualify as high as we were all hoping for. We've got a good race car and we've been fast on old tires. We've been really in the mix all weekend, we just can't seem to get that last little bit. It would have been nice to get in the Firestone Fast Six and put the Fuzzy's Vodka car a little closer to the front! We have a little more work to do tomorrow. It was a weird session, I didn't have any timing and scoring in the car or any split times, I was just trying to go as hard as I could and get the most I could out of the thing! It makes it a little bit harder, but at the end of the day we didn't have enough to advance. Tomorrow, we'll try and do better. I have a lot of confidence in the Fuzzy's crew, we'll have a fast race car!"

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): "Yeah, it was an interesting Fast Six. We locked in one lap. Luckily that was good for P3. But yeah, I was concerned. We didn't have a lap in when the red came out. I'm happy with third right now because I really thought we were getting sixth. The car was really good. PPG car has been strong all weekend. Everybody at Penske has been really strong. I think we actually have a better race car than a qualifying car, so P3 is good."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "I have kind of a two-way feeling. I'm disappointed. It was an okay qualifying, especially after Practice 3. We were really good in Qualifying Round 1, we were the second fastest car and everyone was really close with each other. I think we will go to the maximum of what we had and see what will happen. It is a long race tomorrow and anything could happen from P10, so we'll see where we end up."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data/Snapple Honda): "On what would have been our ultimate lap we were held up by another car. We were too loose anyway, so we were battling with the balance. Had we not been held up, I think we would've been a little better off. Just not a good enough. Tomorrow we will have to go off strategy and make something happen to get the United Fiber & Data/ Snapple car up front."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "It was a disappointing day. Our worst qualifying at Long Beach before today was fourth, so to come out of here starting 11th is mind-boggling to say the least. We'll have to go back and look at the data for the DHL Honda, see what we can do for tomorrow and hopefully have a good race. We could use some luck this weekend as well, just not like (we had) at Phoenix."

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "Disappointing qualifying for us. We struggled for grip and didn't really have any bite. Obviously we were more competitive in practice so we have to figure out what went on and come back and recover tomorrow."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet): "Frankly, I'm really disappointed with that. The track conditions caught me out; I wasn't expecting it to be nearly as slippery as it was. We were within a tenth of transferring into Group Two and I think the lap time was there, but I didn't quite get it done. The No. 83 car has been competitive, inside the top 10, all weekend. Tomorrow we'll just have to conjure up some magic so we can get up to the front and stay there."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda): "It's disappointing to miss out on the top 12 by a couple hundredths (of a second). I'm going to lose some sleep over that tonight. I think the Castrol Edge/ Curb car is a lot better than we had at St. Pete. We made steps forward and we will have to see what we can do in the race tomorrow. The car was the best it had been all weekend, so that was our opportunity to capitalize. Unfortunately, we were just one step behind. We'll have to play a bit of catch up in the warm-up tomorrow morning and hopefully have a good race tomorrow afternoon."

Full Results…

Pos No. Driver Engine Time Round
1 3 Helio Castroneves Chevrolet 1:07.1246 Firestone Fast Six
2 9 Scott Dixon Chevrolet 1:07.4455 Firestone Fast Six
3 22 Simon Pagenaud Chevrolet 1:07.7410 Firestone Fast Six
4 10 Tony Kanaan Chevrolet 1:07.7951 Firestone Fast Six
5 2 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 1:07.9054 Firestone Fast Six
6 12 Will Power Chevrolet Firestone Fast Six
7 5 James Hinchcliffe Honda 1:07.1415 Round 2
8 14 Takuma Sato Honda 1:07.2299 Round 2
9 21 Josef Newgarden Chevrolet 1:07.2548 Round 2
10 26 Carlos Munoz Honda 1:07.2663 Round 2
11 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Honda 1:07.3171 Round 2
12 19 Luca Filippi Honda 1:07.9660 Round 2
13 18 Conor Daly Honda 1:07.7520 Group 1, Round 1
14 11 Sebastien Bourdais Chevrolet 1:07.6432 Group 2, Round 1
15 83 Charlie Kimball Chevrolet 1:07.8332 Group 1, Round 1
16 98 Alexander Rossi Honda 1:07.6872 Group 2, Round 1
17 15 Graham Rahal Honda 1:07.9940 Group 1, Round 1
18 7 Mikhail Aleshin Honda 1:07.8513 Group 2, Round 1
19 8 Max Chilton Chevrolet 1:08.3843 Group 1, Round 1
20 41 Jack Hawksworth Honda 1:07.9929 Group 2, Round 1
21 27 Marco Andretti Honda 1:08.2045 Group 2, Round 1

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