Will Power captured the Pole for the 2013 Texas Firestone 550 with a two lap average speed of 219.1mph—over two miles per hour quicker than his practice speed. Marco Andretti will start alongside him in second position. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchitti will start in the second row, and EJ Viso and Helio Castroneves in the third row. Chevy took 5 of the top 6 positions, Andretti Autosport took 3 of the top 5 spots.
How you feel about the IndyCar package for Texas – or how you feel about racing on a high-banked oval in general – depends largely on how well your team has this track figured out. One team told me they had the exact same stuff in the car as last year, others claimed wholesale changes. What is clear is that most commented on the grip levels – a few commented that last year they had “some" grip and now they’ve got “none." Graham Rahal, who qualified 19th, said “It’s gonna be a long 228 (lap race)."
On the other hand, Pole winner Will Power says that Indy has the formula “about right" and didn’t see a reduction in downforce. IndyCar didn’t change any rules on downforce, but did reduce the drag a bit.
Among those most unhappy was Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan. Visibly angry and shaken, Tony showed his displeasure back in the pits. TK qualified 15th.
Another person that qualified in the rear is Justin Wilson, the winner of last year’s race. The team unloaded with problems in the car, and the team didn’t get any practice after making repairs. Not making a run were Sato (transmission failure) and Tristan Vautier (engine). Simona de Silvestro also had to change engines.
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON WIRELESS TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – POLE WINNER
YOU TOOK THE SECOND MOST PRACTICE LAPS THIS MORNING SO WE FIGURE YOU ARE PROBABLY HAPPY WITH THAT RACE CAR TALK US THROUGH THAT QUICK RUN: “Yeah, the race car has been pretty good. That was… we were wide open, trimmed out enough, the gear was right. Last year we thought we should have been on pole and got the limiter a little bit, but we got it right this time."
WITH THIS CURRENT DW-12 IS BEING WIDE OPEN GOOD? I KNOW LAST YEAR THEY TRIED TO MIX IT UP TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU GUYS WERE LETTING OFF?
“Well in race trim we are lifting, a lot. That is good I think it creates great racing."
DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A GOOD ENOUGH CAR TO WIN TOMORROW NIGHT?
“Yeah I do actually. It’s going to be an interesting race. I think the downforce level they got it about right for good racing because I think some cars will draft more than others. If you happen to put new tires on the last restart and no one else does, you could drive to the front. It creates an interesting situation. Hopefully we are at the front of all that."
YOU SAID LAST YEAR THAT YOU ACTUALLY LIKE THE NEW FORMAT. WE HAD THE PACK RACING HERE FOR YEARS AND NOW WITH THE NEW DW-12 CHASSIS YOU LIKE THIS STYLE OF RACING HERE AT TEXAS:
“Well before you were just a passenger. Now you actually have to drive the thing. Before you were just wide open and hope for the best and hope that your car is fast. Now you actually have to drive it. It’s how it should be. It should be about talent."
ON CHANCES OF WIN: “These days, I don’t know. You have a one in 25 chance actually, because there are so many good teams and drivers. To get a win would be phenomenal. My wife is from here, and all the family is coming out. If I don’t win, I’m probably not coming home for dinner – so I better."
WITH THE DOWNFORCE AND TIRES AS THEY ARE, IS THE CAR MORE OF A HANDFULL? “I understand that when we first went out, the track was dusty and there was Truck rubber on it, and it was definitely slippery. I remember that being the case last year. When the rubber had gone off, and the night falls. I think it will be fine because these cars are sensitive to temperatures. At the end of the session, I thought it was about right."
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 25 RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET- QUALIFIED 2ND:
IS THAT LAP THE TWO LAP AVERAGE GOING TO BE GOOD ENOUGH TO HOLD ONTO THE POLE?
“The second one is fine, but the first one we hit the hard limiter. We lost a mile an hour so I think we might have gave up a pole with that first lap. We will have to watch. I ran out of sixth gear. It’s a good thing because the car is fast, but we were on the limiter the rev limiter. The soft limiter is nice, but when it goes into the hard you lose a chunk of speed and we might have given up a pole with that. We are going to have to watch."
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: “The car was pretty good. I’m pleased with our front row (start). Good job by the guys because our focus wasn’t even on qualifying. I’m pleased just like I was at Indy because it was the same focus at Indy. The first lap, I think we had an overboost, so we lost a mile-per-hour, which I was hoping it wasn’t going to cost me more than it did. Will (Power) went for it, and he got benefited for it so good job to him."
WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ON THE IMPROVEMENTS TO YOU AND THE TEAM? “I think you have to start half-way through last year when Ryan (Hunter-Reay) really came on, and really challenged for the championship. I think it just upped the whole morale and the game of the whole team. It upped my game for sure because it made me really do my homework, not work harder, just knowing where to work, where I was struggling; and to be able to go up against the series champ helped me a lot. To know if I could beat him, I could win. That helped me too. I’m better consistency wise, which has paid off so far this year, even though it is early. We are right where we want to be right now."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 1 DHL ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 3rd: ON QUALIFYING: “A Texas (Motor Speedway) qualifying doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it will help us out to start up front. The guys did a great job getting the car ready for qualifying after the cut tire — we had to end the last session about half-way through. We need to get some major work done tonight, as a team we need to really develop the race car. With as little grip as we have around this place, I think it’s going to be – it’s anybody’s race. It will be interesting to see what we have tonight (in practice), we’re really going to have to work and make the Andretti Autosport cars better. But, overall, happy with the No. 1 DHL Chevy and looking to represent well for our hometown sponsors Dr Pepper Snapple and Sun Drop this weekend."
E.J. VISO, NO. 5 TEAM VENEZUELA PSVSA CITGO ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 5TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING:
“Back in Texas! Qualifying fifth, I definitely think it’s a good position to start this race. For tomorrow we are expecting a lot of action. With the new downforce levels regulated by IndyCar, it’s definitely going to be a very interesting race. There’s very little grip…as always, the weather being very hot here makes it tough for everyone. Anyways, I believe we have a good combination of factors in our team that are going to make us fast and stay in the leader pack."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 AAA INSURANCE TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 6TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING:
“Pretty good day, we feel like the AAA Chevrolet is going to be a good car this weekend. Since the race starts in the day we have to make sure we stay conservative and patient as the downforce changes through the night but our plan is to be right there at the end. We are definitely excited for tomorrow."
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S VODKA/ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 9TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING “It’s strange. It seems that this track changes every year. And since we have been with the new DW 12 chassis, the track is completely different. I had a good car here last year but we had just one bad stint that set us back in the field. The Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy was good at the start since we went from 18th to second. We were just too loose (oversteer) today in qualifying. So we have some work to do for the race. We’ll work on it in the night practice tonight. Everyone seems to think this track produces pack racing. But we haven’t had a pack race here since 2004. This is about the hardest oval we go to now. There is not much grip. This track is tougher than Fontana for grip and have less downforce than Fontana. None of us want to see pack racing anymore, but I think have gone too far in the downforce level here to produce a good show for the fans. I hope that isn’t true for Saturday’s Firestone 550."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO, NO. 78 NUCLEAR ENTERGY AREVA KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 12TH
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS RACE TRACK THAT IS SO TRICKY FOR DRIVERS?
“Well it is. I think my first year I had a pretty big crash here. That kind of froze me a little bit maybe. I think just taking a little bit of time and last year our situation wasn’t great with our engines. This year is looking much better. Especially with KV Racing I think I’m learning a lot from my teammate (Tony Kanaan) and I think it’s looking okay so far. Hopefully, we can have a really good car in the race. That is what is important. The team has been working really well."
I think we’re pretty happy with where we are. We fell off a little bit on the second lap; maybe I should have utilized the tools I have in the car a little bit more, but I think we should be fine. This is my best qualifying here, so I want to thank Chevy for that. We have a 10 grid penalty for tomorrow so we’ll end up a little bit further back, but the important thing is that we have to focus on the race car; getting to where we’re able to run on different lines out there; that’s going to be really, really important. Hopefully we’ll get everything where it needs to be and bring the Nuclear Clean Air Energy car home to a good finish.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 GODADDY ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 13TH: ON QUALIFYING: “It’s (this year) obviously not gone totally the way we wanted. Our good days have been good, our bad days have been bad. I think we kind of just need to find that sort of middle ground a little bit better on days when we don’t have a car to win. A lot of it’s been out of our control, some bad luck…we’ve been competitive, just haven’t been able to get all the results we wanted with the GoDaddy car. Hopefully we can turn that around here in Texas."
TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 SUNOCO “TURBO" KV RACING TECHNOLOGY-SH RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 15TH: ON QUALIFYING: "We missed a bit on the gears for qualifying and that hurt the speed on our run, putting us back in the 14th spot for tomorrow's start. The good thing is that we run warm-up at night here at TMS, which gives us a chance to get the car closer to what we need for the actual race conditions. I think we'll be strong for the race tomorrow."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 7 MCAFEE DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 17TH:
ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN:
"We nearly didn't get started because for some reason the battery drained itself, and we had no power. It was strange. Then we went out, and the car was pretty good on new tires this afternoon, we went (for qualifying) and it was just super loose and the rear was all over the place. I just salvaged something, but it wasn't a good run."
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 18th:
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT:
"Qualifying was fine. It was an easy flat. When you have new tires, it masks everything; you can be flat, no problem. When you are running in traffic, I think we need a little more downforce, everybody asks. I think the race will be too spread out, and we won't have much racing going on. So I hope they let us put a little more downforce. I am happy to be back in the car; happy to be back with Chevy, and first time ever for the National Guard; I am very proud to be in their car. Hopefully I will give them a race tomorrow that they will be proud too."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA, NO. 6 TRUE CAR DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 20TH
ON QUALIFYING: “The run didn’t go as we expected. We were not fortunate enough to have a good car out of the box. As soon as we went out there, we understood it was going to be a tough weekend. We struggled a bit on the practice session. We managed to improve a couple of things, but in one hour, you can’t do a lot. We will just work toward a good race car and go from there."
The teams will have a 30-minute final practice this evening. The Firestone 550 will be televised live on ABC-TV starting at 8:30pm E.T Saturday night.
Qualifying Friday for the Firestone 550 IZOD INDYCAR Series event on the 1.455-mile Texas Motor Speedway, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, and speed:
1. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 219.182
2. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 217.553
3. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 217.524
4. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 217.504
5. (5) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 217.244
6. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 217.100
7. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 216.693
8. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 216.570
9. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 216.552
10. (16) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 216.487
11. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 216.447
12. (78) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 216.396
13. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 216.248
14. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 215.727
15. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 215.474
16. (98) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 215.406
17. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 214.839
18. (4) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 214.586
19. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 213.888
20. (6) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 213.217
21. (18) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Honda, 212.785
22. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 207.807
23. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, no speed
24. (55) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, no speed