Saturday p.m. report from NOLA

Saturday afternoon practice was a bit mixed up. The session was delayed 15 minutes for track cleanup from the prior MX race. Strangely the only Penske car in top 10 was Will Power. Ganassi Racing has all 4 of their cars in the top 10. Helio did have an off course trip to the gravel pit which took him a bit of time to get out of, but did so without assistance from the safety team.

I talked with Gabby Chavez after practice. The 21 year old was third in the session and the fastest Honda. He said "We made a big change to the car and it worked. I love the high speed straightaways here and the fast corners." The team's expectation is to qualify in the top 10 today.

Scott Dixon was the fastest this morning. The issue he had in St. Pete was his air jack not properly functioning – it has been resolved. Apparently the bodywork on the car got too hot during the race. They reworked the body work so this does not happen in the future.

Nico Jamin of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing captured the pole position for the first Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda race with a top lap of 1 minute, 38.2178 seconds (100.430 mph). Rounding out the top three were Aaron Telitz (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), 1:38.2340 (100.413 mph); and Jake Eidson (Pabst Racing), 1:38.2388 (100.408).

Weiron Tan (Andretti Autosport) earned the pole position for the first Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires race this weekend with a fast lap of 1 minute, 34.8269 seconds (104.021 mph) in qualifying. Following Tan on the time sheet were Santiago Urrutia (Team Pelfrey), 1:34.9802 (103.853), and Florian Latorre (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), 1:35.1735 (103.642).

This afternoon's Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying session will follow the same knockout segment progression as in past years on road and street circuits. Each of the three segments offers cars 10 minutes of track time, though only the final segment (Firestone Fast Six) guarantees at least five minutes of green-flag time.

In segment one, cars are split into two groups based on their top speeds from practice Friday. The fastest six drivers in each group from segment one advance to segment two. Those not advancing are slotted into race starting positions 13th and back to the rear of the grid. Drivers from group one will occupy the odd-numbered starting positions (13, 15, 17, etc.) based on their fastest lap times in segment one, with drivers from group two occupying the even-numbered starting positions (14, 16, 18, etc.) based on their fastest lap times.

Segment two features the 12 drivers who advanced from segment one, on track together for 10 minutes. The six drivers posting the fastest lap times in this segment advance to the Firestone Fast Six. Drivers who finish seventh through 12th in segment two will occupy starting positions 7-12 in the race based on fastest lap times in the segment.

In the Firestone Fast Six, each car receives an additional set of Firestone Firehawk tires for use in only this segment. At the end of the 10-minute session, the cars are ranked 1-6 based on their fastest laps in this segment, the driver with the fastest lap winning the Verizon P1 Award.

If a car causes a red flag or full-course yellow caution or otherwise interferes with qualifications as determined by the race director, the car’s best two laps of the segment will be disallowed. An interfering car is not allowed to advance to the next segment. If a car causes two red or full-course yellow cautions in any segment, all of its lap times from the segment will be voided and the car will not be permitted to participate in the remainder of qualifying. Lucille Dust reporting live from New Orleans

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