Will Power on Pole for GP of Indy

It’s May, and Will Power is on the Pole at Indianapolis, with a new track record in qualifying.

While it isn’t the 500, the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis is quickly becoming a fan favorite. The inaugural race last year received a lot of good reviews, and it was an excellent event leading up to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. This year promises to be even better, with the new aero kits, faster speeds, and a rolling start.

It’s the 38th career pole for Power, who also continued an impressive streak dating back to last season. Team Penske has started the last seven races from pole position, and tomorrow’s race will make it eight in a row. Power broke the track record in route to the pole, with a lap of 1:09.4886, which beat the previous record (1:09.6716) held by Pagenaud last year.

Scott Dixon will start alongside Power on the front row, and Helio Castroneves and Juan Montoya will share row two. Simon Pagenaud and Tony Kanaan will roll off from row three. The Firestone Fast Six was comprised of the two “big teams” in IndyCar; all four Penske cars, and the two big drivers for Ganassi.

Click here to see the Qualification Results for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Sebastien Bourdais, Sebastian Saavedra, Luca Filippi, and Stefano Coletti round out the top ten starters. All of them are powered by Chevrolet engines. The first Honda is Jack Hawksworth in 11th. The last ten cars in tomorrow’s field are all Honda entries.

Clearly Chevrolet has an advantage in this race, which has been the case all season long. The great equalizer though, is rain. The forecast for tomorrow’s race will almost certainly include some precipitation. Will it be enough for Honda to get to the front? Graham Rahal certainly hopes so.

The race distance is 82 laps, which is 200 miles around the 14-turn 2.439 mile road course.. Sebastian Saavedra won the Pole for last year’s race, and Simon Pagenaud is the defending race winner.

Coverage for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis begins at 3:30 PM on ABC.

Driver Quotes

Will Power:“It’s the best way possible to start the Month of May. To have a pole at Indianapolis is such great feeling. I feel like we’ve been strong all weekend. I just missed out on a pole at Barber because of the weather, so I was pretty determined today. The guys did a great job with the car and I’m happy to see the Verizon car in P1.”

Juan Montoya: “It’s OK, we were a little conservative with the aero setup of the car. I mean, it was OK; had too much understeer in that last run. We just went for one lap and I went at it and had too much understeer. But it’s what it is. I’m pretty happy we made the (Firestone) Fast Six here on the road course. That’s pretty encouraging for us. Every road course has been terrible, so to get it figured out is pretty cool.”

Helio Castroneves: “The No. 3 Verizon Chevrolet has been very consistent since the weekend began yesterday. We would like to be starting on our third-consecutive pole position, but we are happy with where we are. Eighth-straight Verizon P1 Pole Awards for Team Penske. Wow! That is something to be proud of! We just need to finish the job tomorrow and I think we have a car that can do it. We were close last year, and with Roger Penske on the stand we always have a shot.”

James Hinchcliffe: “It’s getting harder and harder to judge what a successful qualifying is. It’s always a challenge when you go out on these reds (alternate tires), trying to figure out where the grip is. Here, for most people, at least in the first group, it was the first lap. We made quite a lot of changes after practice – we weren’t super happy in practice three – and got the car a lot better. Credit goes to the guys because I think the Arrow Electronics car was a lot stronger in qualifying. If the reds had held on for a second lap, I think we would’ve been able to find a little bit more and maybe squeak into the top 12. The good news is that we’re going to be one of the top guys with a second set of reds and if there’s a strength that we’ve shown this year, it’s being smart on strategy. So we’ll take our tire advantage and try to use that to race smarter, not harder, and move up the grid tomorrow.”

JR Hildebrand: “It was disappointing not to make the cut there. We thought that we’d have a little bit more to make up, but it turns out that we were just like a tenth of a second off from making the cut. It’s unfortunate that it ended up being that close. There are definitely still some things that I’m getting a handle on. As it’s turned out, there are quite a few things between the track, the aero kit and the way that the cars are set up that are different than what I am used to. I was anticipating that there would be a little bit less of that coming in. So there are certainly some areas where I can make up some time. Of the three of us, Luca (Filippi) definitely found some speed, so we’ll all take a look at the changes they made and what he’s doing to try to figure out if we can all elevate to there and make another step for tomorrow. All in all, though, it’s good to be in a Chevy. With the weather being a little dodgy for tomorrow, who knows what we’ll get and hopefully that will play into our favor.”

Scott Dixon: “I’m happy with the front-row start here for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis in the Target car. We’ve had a really fast car here this weekend and we just missed out on pole to the No. 1 car. I think the race will be fast and furious here on the road course tomorrow. I’m not sure about the weather holding up but at the end of the day we’re on the front row and hopefully any trouble will happen behind us back in the pack if it’s wet. We’ve had a good run of late on the road and street courses and I hope that continues here tomorrow for the team.”

Tony Kanaan: “I’m pleased with the No. 10 NTT DATA Chevrolet’s qualifying efforts today. I obviously wanted to finish higher than sixth in the Firestone Fast 6, but I made a small mistake on my fast lap that cost me some time. After yesterday’s practices there were a few things we weren’t thrilled about with the car, but the team came together and worked through to make my car even better than it was. I think the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis is a great addition to the month of May and I’m excited for the green flag tomorrow.”

Sebastien Bourdais: “I had no idea what was going on with Scott (Dixon), but he was always going to be quicker than us. He showed that in round one of qualifying. The Circle K Mistic machine was pretty good today, but I have to do a better job on the Firestone red (alternate) tires. The car is really good on blacks (primary tires), but every time we put the reds on it is a bit of a struggle. I didn’t put a whole lap together in round two, I locked up on what should have been my quickest lap. It’s a bit disappointing. We have been strong in every practice and if I can’t qualify better than I did, it’s going to be tough to take the challenge to the Penske boys. We will keep knocking at the door and hopefully at some point it is going to come to us.”

Takuma Sato: “It didn’t work out like we wanted in qualifying. There was a slow car in front of me as I was on my qualifying lap, which was unfortunate, and then on the second lap, the tires weren’t as fresh and we didn’t get the speed we wanted. It’s disappointing but hopefully we can make the car faster for tomorrow’s run.”

Graham Rahal: “It’s frustrating to not be able to qualify better. We’ve been pretty good in practice but the Chevys somehow crank it up in qualifying. We didn’t have any more. Maybe there was another couple of hundredths (of a second) in the car, but I didn’t have two tenths. It’s frustrating because we had a lot of momentum coming into this race. This Steak ‘n Shake team has just got to try to have a good, clean day tomorrow and hopefully we can move our way forward. I hope it rains, given where we qualified.”

Luca Filippi: “I think we made an improvement in terms of performance. We made gains so I’m pleased. I think we found something we can carry along this season to improve our qualifying performances. I could’ve done a little better, but I think we got much closer than previous races. If the race stays dry, I know we have a consistent car.  I’m motivated and really convinced that we will have a very strong pace.”

Josef Newgarden: “It was not a horrible day, we got ourselves up into the top half of the grid, which is great. There was a lot of good work from the guys. We tried using two (sets of alternate) reds because we just knew we didn’t quite have the top group pace and that really helped today. It got us into the front half of the field, but I wasn’t able to do much more after that. We’ll have to try and make a little more progress tomorrow and see what we need for the race. It’s all about scoring good points right now.”

Justin Wilson: “We went out on black (primary) tires for the first run and I felt so loose, I thought we overshot this run, but we seem to be on one side of the balance and can’t seem to find that sweet spot right in the middle. When we put the Firestone red tires on the car, it brought the balance to life and we actually started to roll some speed into the corners and we started to get some grip. It was good, I just wish we could be a fraction quicker. We’re pushing, we’re trying hard and we have been behind all weekend, but we’re trying to catch up. I’ve been really happy with our tire life, so I’m hoping that is going to continue into race day and play in our favor so we’ll have a good consistent car.

Marco Andretti: “This is the biggest struggle we’ve had in a while. Normally we can see our way out – I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel right now, it’s disappointing. I enjoy the track, but it’s hard to fully enjoy it with where we are sitting right now.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We’re just struggling as a team right now and have got to put our heads together tonight. We’ve really been struggling with the balance of the car since we rolled of the truck; no idea really how to fix it at the moment. We’re going to have to put our heads together tonight as a four car team and make the most of it. Andretti Autosport is pretty good at doing that so we can still have a great racetomorrow – we just have to keep our heads down. It’s been a frustrating start to the weekend though.”

Jack Hawksworth: “It was a solid qualifying run. We ran pretty clean. The car was pretty good, especially in the first round. It didn’t feel quite as good in the second round for whatever reason, but we’ll have a look through stuff tonight. We just have to keep on getting better and hopefully tomorrow we can have a good day.”

Here are the highlights from qualifying today, courtesy of IndyCar.

Below are some of my photos from Friday. (Special thanks to IndyCar and IMS)

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