Power wins pole for Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

Will Power
Will Power

Taking advantage of the superior Penske shock package, Penske Chevy driver Will Power was fastest when it counted and won the pole for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio over teammate Josef Newgarden.

Honda drivers Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal will start on row 2 while Helio Castroneves rounded out the top-5.

Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power laid down a lap of 1 minute, 4.1720 seconds (126.672 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six to win his third pole position at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, his fifth pole this season and the 49th of his Indy car career – tying the Australian with Bobby Unser for fourth on the all-time list. Power will start on the front row for the sixth straight year at Mid-Ohio on Sunday.

Power was one of three Team Penske drivers to advance to the Firestone Fast Six, the last of three knockout qualifying rounds. Joining him on the front row in Sunday’s 90-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road course will be teammate Josef Newgarden, who qualified second in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.3067, 126.407 mph).

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]It is Power's third pole at the track, and the 49th of his Verizon IndyCar Series career:

“It is definitely a good position to start around here because it is so hard to pass. Obviously we took a bit of a hit in the points there at Toronto so very stoked for this pole. It’s been a tough weekend to get the car right; get the balance right. This is good.

“It is so tight in this series. You can’t make a mistake. That is what I had in my mind is that I just had to get through each round and then get to the Fast Six and see what happens. That is what we did, just try to be mistake free.

“We’ve been working on a win here at Mid-Ohio for a long time, and by getting pole, we definitely put ourselves in a good position."

Takuma Sato, winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 in May, qualified third in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (1:04.6792, 125.679 mph). Graham Rahal, who was fastest in his group in each of the first two qualifying segments, finished fourth in the Firestone Fast Six with a lap of 1:04.7959 (125.452 mph) in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver won at his home Mid-Ohio track in 2015.

Helio Castroneves, a two-time Mid-Ohio winner (2000, 2001), qualified fifth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.8485, 125.351 mph). Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon extended his streak of reaching all seven Firestone Fast Six sessions this season and qualified sixth in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda (1:05.1927, 124.689 mph).

Defending Mid-Ohio race winner and 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud missed advancing to the Firestone Fast Six by less than five-hundredths of a second and will start seventh in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.

Conor Daly advanced past the first segment of knockout qualifying for the first time this season and will start 11th in the No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. Alongside Daly in Row 6 will be Esteban Gutierrez, whose 12th-place showing in the No. 18 UNIFIN Honda is his best qualifying effort in six races with Dale Coyne Racing.

Tony Kanaan originally advanced from Segment 1, Group 1 but was penalized for causing a local yellow that impeded other drivers’ laps. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver spun sideways in Turn 2 on his final lap, forcing other drivers to slow as he corrected the car to continue on track. The automatic penalty levied by INDYCAR is loss of the driver’s fastest lap to that point, which prevented Kanaan from advancing.

Esteban Gutierrez
Esteban Gutierrez

Esteban Gutierrez scored his best qualifying position of the season on Saturday with a 12th place on the grid for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. His teammate Ed Jones qualified 15th.

Both Jones and Gutierrez went out in Group 1 during Segment 1 of qualifying. After completing three laps each and before heading to pit lane for a fresh set of Firestone Red Tires, Gutierrez was sixth with Jones 10th.

During the second half of the 10-minute session, Jones jumped up as high as second. However, despite registering a fastest of lap of 1:05.0337 on his final lap, he would have to settle for eighth in his group and 15th on the grid.

As for Gutierrez, he was sitting ninth in the final seconds of the session but he was able to jump up into fourth position with a lap time of 1:04.7785 on his final lap of the session. The time sent him into the top six and onto the second round of qualifying for the first time.

During Round 2, the driver of the #18 Unifin car made it as high as third early in the session, but despite improving his time, his lap of 1:05.0368 placed him 12th on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

QUOTES

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "Honestly, I'm a little surprised we didn't make the (Firestone) Fast Six. It felt like a good lap in the Menards Chevy, but we came up a little short. I put everything I had in it. That's racing. That's INDYCAR racing. We're all fighting for hundredths of a second. I think we have a good car for the race. We'll line up tomorrow and see what happens."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): "Starting second tomorrow is awesome. The No. 2 PPG Chevrolet is really strong for tomorrow's race at Mid-Ohio. The team has been really working hard this weekend and it's paying off. We can't wait for tomorrow's race to put on a great show for the crowd here."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "That was a lot of fun. Everything was so close. INDYCAR racing is down to the centimeters now. We calculated about three laps would be perfect. But because of those 15 seconds that we stayed in the pits, it basically cost us a third lap on the second set of tires, so we didn't have enough time to complete that. And I got caught in (Turns) 4, 5 and 6, which is a fast area. We lost a bunch of lap time. Regardless of that, thought the Hitachi Chevy was really strong. Congrats to Will (Power). We'll just keep digging."

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "Obviously it's really good for us. I think it's just a nice thing after the year that we've had, it's nice to have a good qualifying session. The car has been improving, you know. We haven't had the results to show it yet, but I think this is at least a good step forward for us. We need a race like this where we just sit in the top 10, top 11, top 12, whatever, the whole time so hopefully we can fight from there tomorrow and make up some ground."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "A bit of a disappointing day to be honest. The Arrow car has been top six pretty much every single session when you put all the pieces together, and the challenge here in qualifying is getting that lap and putting all the pieces together. Unfortunately we ran into some guys that were gapping pretty disrespectfully and not giving everybody the room that was needed; when there are only 12 cars on track, it's pretty crazy that we can't all find a gap. We got caught out by that today. It happens, it's part of racing. No doubt we had the speed to be in the Firestone Fast Six. Hopefully that bodes well for tomorrow, and we can move up and put the Arrow Electronics car in victory lane."

Aleshin crash damage
Aleshin crash damage

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "Qualifying last was definitely not what we were expecting. I think part of it is me getting back into my rhythm after missing the last race weekend in Toronto. Of course it would be nice to qualify at the top, but the most important thing is to finish the race. We all know what can happen here at Mid-Ohio. The people who have seen last year's race will know what I mean. We just need to continue to push forward and do well, and I'm pretty sure we are going to have a competitive race car for tomorrow."

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): "Practice session one was really good for the Gallagher team, but we started chasing the setup like a wild goose after that for some reason. I think we're struggling as a team a bit too. Three of us didn't get through, and Scott (Dixon) wasn't exactly blistering out there, but he did make it. It's strange because this is my kind of track. I hope we can sort something out or it's going to be a bit of a long day tomorrow."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): "It wasn't the best day for us. We've been chasing the same issue since the test here last week. The car is really loose on entry and really has understeer. Hopefully we can figure out what's going on. It was a good day for Honda overall with the qualifying results."

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): "I was overcompensating for the grip we don't have and pushing it too hard out there. We need to do a better job of setting the car up – it just wasn't there today. I shouldn't be pushing the car to the max to make up for what's not there in the setup. It's going to be really difficult starting in the back here with how hard it is to pass, but we're going to do everything we can to get up to the front."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet):
"I'm really excited for this pole. The No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet crew has really been on it all weekend here at Mid-Ohio. I'm ready for tomorrow's race with what we feel is a really strong car."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "It was a tough one. On the blacks (Firestone primary tires) we were looking pretty strong, but then on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) we didn't gain where we should gain on the red tires. It was hard to qualify in the top 12 for my group. I think my group was quite tough. It is what it is. Tomorrow I think we have to go strategy-wise really aggressive. Here at this track it's hard to pass. We have to go aggressive on the strategy and see if it pays off. Last year, I did an aggressive strategy and it paid off, so we will see this year."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda)
: "To have the Steak 'n Shake Honda be the fastest overall in qualifying is special, but we would have liked to be on pole. I messed up on my best lap in Segment 3, and obviously the two rounds before I put it all together, but when it counted we lost a lot in the last turn, in Turn 12, on the very start of the final lap. I don't know if we had enough on used reds (Firestone alternate tires). Power was on used reds too, but I don't think I had that sort of time in me. But we were definitely better than fourth, so I'm a little disappointed in fourth place. I lost four-tenths in one corner alone, and then on the last lap I almost lost it. It's great for our team and program to be up front once again. We've got a good starting spot and hopefully can battle from there. Last year you saw with the three-stopper that a lot of guys were on reds, even if they were used, they were preferred. This year it's a new tire, so we haven't run them a full stint yet. We're in a really good spot in terms of tires. We didn't use any new blacks (Firestone primary tires), and Helio (Castroneves) used two sets in qualifying. So I thinking tomorrow morning we can use a set and then we can have a heyday in the race and run whatever we want."

Gutierrez
Gutierrez

ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): "It was very exciting to try to explore and to keep experimenting with the car. Obviously, this is a new track for me. It was challenging to find the right set up. We've been working hard as a team to find the sweet spot. I think we managed a good balance until we got to the last run when the track changed. The track is evolving very quickly and you need to keep up with that balance. It was the first time we were in that session, so we missed something to anticipate and to keep up with the balance, but I think it was a good experience. It's my first time into the fast 12 and it was very interesting. The team did a good job and it's our best qualifying so far, so we're making progress and that makes me happy."

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda):
"It was a tough qualifying session overall. We got slowed down a bit by a car in front of us on my last laps, and then the car just got loose and I wasn't able to improve my lap time at the end to move up the charts."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet):
"We knew going into qualifying that we were in a really hard group. There's so many good guys up and down pit lane. I feel like it was a pretty good lap on my part, we just ended up missing a little bit in the end. We closed the gap to the fastest cars yet again, but there were just a bunch of people super close as usual. We've been looking for a bit more front grip all weekend. We've been getting better and better, but that's one thing that if we can fix it, it will raise our speeds quite a bit. The Fuzzy's Vodka car is really good though, especially on the longer runs, so we're looking forward to racing tomorrow."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet):
"The Fuzzy's Vodka guys are doing a good job. The car doesn't feel that bad to drive, we just don't seem to have a lot of speed in it. It's frustrating because this is a track I really like and the team's been good here in the past. We just can't manage to get much better lap times out of it. It's disappointing, but we'll continue plugging away at it for the rest of the weekend."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "[Qualifying was] very good. The team work extremely well with the four cars and we were very competitive for all the practice sessions. I'm extremely happy with the performance of the Ruoff Home Mortgage car. I think the team has reached a good setup. I think a P3 is very happy place for us and a good position for the race tomorrow."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): "(Group 2) was definitely a tough group, but we needed to beat everybody anyway – that was the goal. The car just didn't turn enough for us to get there. We basically qualified our race car, I think, and were a bit too conservative (for qualifying). We started the weekend really good – within a couple hundredths of the quick time in Practice 1, but we've gone back a bit which is obviously not the goal."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "We just lost some grip in the car this afternoon. Things were obviously promising after yesterday's session and leading the way, but coming into today and the morning session we had promise in the DHL car. We lost a little bit of where we were and tried to retrace our steps. In the end, we had an imbalance in the car and just missed it a bit. We didn't quite have what I needed to get into the (Firestone) Fast Six. Here in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it all adds up. If you're off just a little bit in the car it can make a big difference."

Rossi never gets it right in qualifying when it counts
Rossi never gets it right in qualifying when it counts. Qualifying is his biggest weakness

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): "Pretty disappointed honestly. We made some big improvements this morning and then we seemed to lose our way a little bit this afternoon. We were within like three-hundredths of transferring through to the top 12, which would've given us another shot to make the car better. I know there's more in it for tomorrow, but we missed it a little bit, I missed it a little bit. The nice thing is that we have two sets of Firestone alternates (tires), sticker alternates, plus the scrubbed set from qualifying to use tomorrow. We just need a little bit of strategy and I think we have every opportunity to finish up front."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda): "I'm pretty disappointed to miss the (Firestone) Fast Six after running so well this morning. We just went the wrong direction with a change in session and it hurt us in the end. It's a tough pill to swallow, but we have a fast race car so we'll work to get up front tomorrow."

Lineup

Rank Car Driver Name Engine Time Speed Session
1 12 Power, Will CHEVY 01:04.1720 126.672 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
2 2 Newgarden, Josef CHEVY 01:04.3067 126.407 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
3 26 Sato, Takuma HONDA 01:04.6792 125.679 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
4 15 Rahal, Graham HONDA 01:04.7959 125.452 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
5 3 Castroneves, Helio CHEVY 01:04.8485 125.351 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
6 9 Dixon, Scott HONDA 01:05.1927 124.689 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
7 1 Pagenaud, Simon CHEVY 01:04.3008 126.418 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
8 5 Hinchcliffe, James HONDA 01:04.3784 126.266 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
9 98 Rossi, Alexander HONDA 01:04.4906 126.046 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
10 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan HONDA 01:04.4928 126.042 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
11 4 Daly, Conor CHEVY 01:04.8745 125.300 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
12 18 Gutierrez, Esteban (R) HONDA 01:05.0368 124.988 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
13 83 Kimball, Charlie HONDA 01:04.9930 125.072 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
14 27 Andretti, Marco HONDA 01:04.5929 125.847 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
15 19 Jones, Ed (R) HONDA 01:05.0337 124.994 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
16 20 Pigot, Spencer CHEVY 01:04.6186 125.797 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
17 10 Kanaan, Tony HONDA 01:05.3200 124.446 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
18 8 Chilton, Max HONDA 01:04.8603 125.328 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
19 21 Hildebrand, JR CHEVY 01:05.3382 124.411 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
20 14 Munoz, Carlos CHEVY 01:04.9440 125.166 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
21 7 Aleshin, Mikhail HONDA 01:05.2441 124.591 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

R=Rookie

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]

Leave a Reply