KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais survived a treacherous wet qualification session to take the pole for tomorrow's Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio race at Mid-Ohio on a wet but drying track.
American Josef Newgarden will start 2nd 1/2-second behind Bourdais' Chevy.
Tony Kanaan will lineup 3rd ahead of Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay on Sunday when it's expected to be dry.
While rain did not fall during the qualifying sessions, the cars still ran on rain tires with the track only starting to dry at the end of the Fast Six session. The driver of the #11 Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet admitted after the session that the drying track forced the cars into non-traditional lines.
Tony Kanaan mentioned that he thought for a second or two about moving to slicks, but given the chaos of the session the thought didn't last long. As Sebastien said during the press conference, "It was a big guessing game."
Bourdais' 32nd career pole position came two weeks ago in Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto, a race he won for his 32nd career victory and first since 2007. Today's pole was the 33rd of Bourdais' nine-year IndyCar career tying him for seventh on the all-time list with Dario Franchitti. Mario Andretti stills holds the record for most IndyCar poles with 67.
Bourdais' final lap of 1 minute, 24.1610 seconds overtook Josef Newgarden (1:24.6787) in the No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car.
"The last lap I knew I was shy and needed some more, so I just went for it and made it stick and that Mistic machine gave me everything it had," said Bourdais, who has two top-five finishes in four Indy car races at Mid-Ohio. "Things are finally starting to align for us; sometimes it's the difference between things going your way or not going your way."
Newgarden matched his season-best qualifying effort at Texas and secured his career best start on a road/street course.
"This year I thought we had a much better package in general," Newgarden said. "I thought we were pretty good in Practice 3, but it was so tight I was kind of happy that it rained because it spread everyone out. I thought we had a good car, it was just about managing traffic. We were down in the pit lane so we had a lot of traffic every time. Fortunately we were able to pull out a good lap. The car was great. I thought we had a really good car. Just trying to get the most out of each lap was the key. You couldn't have any mistakes was the biggest deal."
All 22 competitors will have three sets of Firestone alternate tires available for the 90-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course Sunday. The alternates, identified by the red sidewalls, feature a softer compound that yields faster lap times but trades some durability from the primary specification.
This weekend's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday 3rd August. They can also be heard live on IMS Radio Network affiliates, XM Channel 209, Sirius Channel 213 IndyCar.com, IndyCarRadio.com or via the Verizon IndyCar14 app.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "The last lap I knew I was shy and needed some more, so I just went for it and made it stick and that Mystic machine gave me everything it had and it was enough – so thanks to Chevy and all our sponsors. Things are finally starting to align for us – sometimes it's the difference between things going your way or not going your way. I like it a lot better like (this). It's a lot of fun and these guys deserve a lot of respect for all the hard work they put in and it's great when it finally turns into results. It was totally different (in the Firestone Fast Six) from the first two segments, there was a developing dry line. So we went from totally outside to having to venture in not really well-known territory with wet tires, which was difficult."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): (About if good track position help you here): "It's definitely better to start closer to the front. Pole is a big deal here because it's so difficult to pass. I was really happy to make it to the Fast Six. The toughest possible conditions at this track, it's just so slippery. It's typical IndyCar, it's all mixed up, you don't know who is going to be pole one week to the next. It's great racing. Hopefully we can get together and get a podium tomorrow, maybe a win."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "Well, I think honestly the rain helped a little bit, just spread everyone out because it's so tight. I mean, I really felt confident, we were here testing. I thought we were pretty bad last year, we didn't have a handle on what we needed and I didn't get the most out of what we needed. This year I thought we had a much better package in general. I thought we were pretty good in Practice 3, but it was so tight I was kind of happy that it rained because it spread everyone out. I thought we had a good car. It was just about managing traffic. We were down in the pit lane so we had a lot of traffic every time. Fortunately we were able to pull out a good lap. The car was great, I thought we had a really good car. Just trying to get the most out of each lap was the key. You couldn't have any mistakes was the biggest deal."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "Qualifying today definitely wasn't what we were hoping for. We've been so fast in all of the practices and the car has felt really good, unfortunately the track was just so slippery that first time out. I spun out in the first lap to cause a red flag. I wasn't able to turn any laps that counted, so NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing will have to start in the back for the race tomorrow. I still feel really optimistic about the race, especially since I know what the car can do."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet): "Obviously our qualifying efforts were really disappointing. The rain threw a wrench into everyone's day. It's disheartening especially because Practice 3 was good and we came out with a really good car. I just wasn't able to get the lap time that we needed. I know some of my teammates struggled as well, so hopefully we can all regroup tonight and see what we need to do to make things right for tomorrow. We'll do everything we can to get the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet back up to the front where it needs to be."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "Not the best qualifying session we've had this year I can tell you that. Unfortunately it was dry yesterday and this morning and we were fast, then it rained for qualifying. I had an off in the second session and lost my two fastest laps. After that we had one more chance to advance the Target car on our final lap but there just wasn't any grip to be found out there. We'll have to come up with a great strategy for tomorrow to dig us out of this hole."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Glad Chevrolet): "It was a good day for the Glad car after all. We struggled in the morning practice session when it was dry, but were able to put the laps together in the end when it counted in the wet. This series is so tight from the top to the bottom of the grid. You really have to get the most out of the car at any opportunity you have out there and that's what we were able to do today."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "Obviously, the conditions were really tricky. We sort of lost out in the sense that because of where we are in pit lane, because of those two red (flags) that came out, I was always behind the red. So I hadn't actually completed a lap – I hadn't been down the front straight or been through that last corner until that one flying lap. There was only so much we could expect, given that. The cars just had no grip. Just disappointed because the car was so much quicker than that in the dry and even if you go off strategy, with how close we saw the times, the difference between 20th and first is not that much. It's going to be tough to move up from where we are starting."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): "I just didn't get the most out of the car today. I went off on the out lap which just destroyed my confidence. I had no idea on the grip and we just came up short today."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "A little bit disappointed, we were really quick in the wet and then when it started drying out, we came up to some other cars and fell off a bit. It's unfortunate we just missed (pole). We have a great car here this weekend so to start fifth is definitely disappointing, but we can get it done from there. It will be a challenging day for us trying to get through those top four, but we can definitely do it. I feel like we missed an opportunity a little bit but tomorrow is the only day that counts."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "It was extremely slippery track conditions and I spun out on my out lap. The engine was still running and I tried to shift, but it was stuck in a false neutral at which time the engine shut off. It's really a shame that we couldn't complete a lap."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM Honda): "It was my first Firestone Fast Six, so I'm really happy with that. One of my goals for the year was to make it into a Fast Six, and I did it. I'm also a little disappointed, because when you have a chance to get the pole position it's tough to feel good about finishing fourth. I'll have more shots at pole later this year, but this one was so close. I'm happy with the result. It's a great position to start the race. It's going to be a long race, and as we saw last year, strategy counts a lot here. We have to sit down and come up with a good strategy for the Cinsay car tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "The No. 3 Hitachi Chevy has been improving each time we got on the track; getting better in each session. Unfortunately the qualifying session was a bit crazy. Not only was it wet, there were so many yellows that we only got one timed lap in. At the end of the day it was the same for everyone. We were the first car out and tried some different lines. Sometimes that is not the best place to be. It gives the other guys some direction on where to run. It is what it is, though. We'll just have to keep working and hope the race tomorrow is better than qualifying."
CARLOS HUERTAS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "I am happy with being in the top 10 for the start tomorrow. I think I could have maybe gone a little bit faster and maybe made it into the Firestone Fast 6. It was really difficult out there and it isn't bad starting 10th. This is a great course and I'm getting comfortable after the test last week which went really well. Having that time on track makes me feel like I'm starting at a similar level as the other drivers, which is helpful since it is my first year in the series. All in all, it has been good. I'm looking forward to the warm up tomorrow to give us a better idea of the race pace. With such a long race, anything can happen."
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Honda): "The rain changed everything this afternoon for qualifying. We had so many red flags during our group that the pressure was really on with everyone only getting one timed lap. I didn't push as hard as I should have on that lap, because I really think we had the speed to transfer out of the first group. It's a delicate balance, because of course I didn't want to spin out of control pushing too hard and causing a red flag. It's always a compromise between being on edge and taking care of your equipment. Today I didn't find that ideal balance."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Hawk Team Penske Chevrolet): "The No. 2 Hawk Performance Chevrolet was actually pretty good. I was really enjoying myself, but then again I love to be sliding around. When I'm sideways I'm comfortable. For me I was just trying to get two laps in that were quicker than my first lap to try to get into the next round. I got to (Simon) Pagenaud and tried to get around him, but I got a little too greedy. The spin and the red flag meant that we were going to lose our two fastest laps of the session so there wasn't much we could do at that point. But the Hawk Performance Chevy was good. We finished P1 in the first session so I know it has good speed."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 National Guard Honda): "It's been a pretty good day for us. This morning I thought the National Guard car was very quick. I think we made some improvements in the dry conditions and were eighth and I think we were a little better than that. And then of course we got Mother Nature thrown at us for the qualifying session. To qualify seventh is pretty good. It's a good place to start from, a good place to work from at this track. Obviously we would like to be further forward. We missed advancing to the Fast Six by one-hundredth of a second which is pretty hard to swallow but that's kind of the way these things go. We had a good car in the dry so I'm looking forward to the race. It looks like it's going to be a nice day. It's great to be at home and it's great to have the Ohio National Guard out here with us."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "It was slick – very slippery out there. The car feels good. Unfortunately we weren't quite quick enough to make it into the top six but when it's wet like that, it's a bit of a lottery. We're starting eighth so we have a chance there and we'll see what we can do in the race. I'm not sure what to expect in the race tomorrow. It's going to be tough. We want to get to the front. We've been quick all weekend so we want to be at the front, but at the same time it's hard to overtake here, it's almost impossible. We'll just have to play it smart and see what happens."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "I thought our car was coming into a similar feeling like the test when we practiced this morning. And that is good. Then the rain came and we haven't had a good grip level on the rain tires this year. I tried to push the car harder and it was sliding around too much. So we'll hope to get back to the earlier setup and get a good car in the morning warm-up. This place is always difficult to get a proper lap. And it's physical on the driver too. It won't be an easy race."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda): "We're disappointed to start ninth, because our car has had more speed than that all weekend. We didn't adapt to the rainy conditions as well as we should have. On the other hand, we know we have a good car for the race. If we come up with a solid strategy and the race falls our way, you never know what could happen."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers KV AFS Chevrolet): "I am excited for the team for securing their third pole of the season. I'm a bit disappointed as we should have had both cars in the Firestone Fast Six as we had a strong car, but unfortunately we had limited laps because of the red. We showed in the final practice session this morning the strength we have. So with the better weather tomorrow we should be able to prove that again in the race. Congratulations to Bourdais on his pole and look forward to the race tomorrow."
Qualifying Saturday for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.258-mile(s) Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:
1. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 01:24.1610 (96.586)
2. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 01:24.6787 (95.996)
3. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 01:25.0290 (95.600)
4. (34) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 01:25.3111 (95.284)
5. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 01:25.4459 (95.134)
6. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 01:26.1692 (94.335)
7. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 01:33.3244 (87.103)
8. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 01:33.3948 (87.037)
9. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 01:33.5587 (86.884)
10. (18) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 01:33.6635 (86.787)
11. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 01:34.7103 (85.828)
12. (20) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 01:34.8194 (85.729)
13. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 01:39.4755 (81.717)
14. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 01:39.0743 (82.048)
15. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 01:39.8694 (81.394)
16. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 01:39.8368 (81.421)
17. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 01:41.5197 (80.071)
18. (98) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 01:40.0797 (81.223)
19. (8) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, No Time (No Speed)
20. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 01:40.8624 (80.593)
21. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, No Time (No Speed)
22. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, No Time (No Speed)