It seems like forever ago, but the most recent winner in the Verizon IndyCar Series kept the momentum going today in Elkhart Lake. Will Power earned his second Pole of the season today at Road America, as Team Penske has now collected 8 Pole positions so far in 2016. It’s the 44th career Pole for Power, who sits in 5th place all-time and trails teammate Helio Castroneves by three. Will’s fastest lap in the Firestone Fast Six was 1 minute, 42.2105 seconds. Power has two starts at Road America, where he finished 13th and 16th respectively in 2006 and 2007 with Team Australia.
Scott Dixon will join Power on the front row for tomorrow’s race. Row 2 belongs to Tony Kanaan and championship leader Simon Pagenaud. Castroneves and Graham Rahal will start in Row 3 on Sunday. The top five qualifiers were from the Chevrolet-powered teams of Penske and Ganassi. There have been 25 Champ Car races at Road America, with 20 of them being won by a driver starting in the Top 5. Max Chilton, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Conor Daly, and Carlos Munoz round out the top ten in qualifying.
Qualification Results for the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America
The Ganassi cars seemed to be dialed in well, with the four cars qualifying 2nd, 3rd, 7th, and 11th on Saturday. It was also an outstanding run for Daly, who had his best qualifying effort of his young career. Munoz wasn’t able to practice this morning due to a technical issue with the car, but the team worked on on getting the car prepared, and it paid off. Hunter-Reay managed to qualify 8th despite being under the weather.
Coming into this weekend, Sebastien Bourdais had started all four of his Road America races on the front row, and finished on the podium in all four as well. That streak ended today as he qualified in 12th position for KVSH. Juan Montoya was the lone Penske driver to struggle in qualifying, as he will start tomorrow’s race in the 14th spot. Josef Newgarden continues to ignore the pain and wheel his Ed Carpenter Racing machine around the 4.048-mile road course. He had a spin during his qualifying session, and will start 20th tomorrow. James Hinchcliffe received a penalty for interference, and will be starting last.
The race distance is 50 laps, which is 202.4 miles around the 4.048-mile 14-turn road course. The last open wheel race at Elkhart Lake saw Sebastien Bourdais win from Pole position in 2007 with Newman/Haas Racing.
Coverage for the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America begins at 12:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network.
Qualification Photos via IndyCar
Juan Montoya: “The DeVilbiss Chevy ran well in qualifying. We’re happy with it and as far as tomorrow’s race, we don’t feel like we need to make any changes. In practice earlier this morning, we had an issue with the engine, but we felt good about the car yesterday and we still feel good about it today.”
Helio Castroneves: “We really did a lot of science projects out there with our setups to be honest, but in the end I was able to follow a little bit from my teammates and ended up working pretty well. The Hitachi car was good. We had a good pace, and we made some adjustments on the last qualifying run, and I’m not sure if it was the right direction or not. I just think the fans here are awesome. The race, to be honest, whatever happens happens, but just to have so many people here, I’m just excited. Obviously it’s a high-speed track, you know, but anything can happen. But at this point I’m just glad we’re back in this beautiful place.”
James Hinchcliffe: “It was an unfortunate day at the office. We had a small problem on blacks with the dash so I wasn’t able to shift properly. We were hoping to fix it for our run on red tires and we were only halfway through our first red lap when the session was called off for Josef [Newgarden]. It’s really too bad because the Arrow Electronics car was fast. I’m glad Josef is OK and now we have lots of new tires for the race tomorrow.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “I think we had some good progress here from where we started. It’s my first time at the track and I haven’t tested here like everyone else in the championship running. It’s a shame that we couldn’t get into the top six in this qualifying but we were pretty close. It’s not the best position to start with, but it’s okay. The race is long so anything can happen. We’re going to move forward, that’s for sure.”
Max Chilton: “Gallagher and the Ganassi team gave me a great car for this weekend here at Road America. I was on my hot lap in the second segment of qualifying and Power came out in the pits in front of me. I followed him out through Turns 5-6-7 and then into the Carousel turn. I was four car lengths back and just had to keep lifting and lifting. The stewards reviewed it and didn’t take any action which I just find maddening.”
Scott Dixon: “I think there were just too many mistakes made to get the pole. We definitely had the car for the pole. I messed up the last two corners in the Clorox car, which in turn costs us 2-and-a-1/2 tenths and ultimately the pole position today here at Road America. There is massive fan support here, it’s great to be back and I hope we put on a good show for the fans tomorrow.”
Tony Kanaan: “We’ve done really well here all weekend until the Firestone Fast 6. We left the pits after sitting with the rest of the field and waiting to go out and almost immediately my steering wheel just completely froze. We were trying to figure out what we needed to do, but because we didn’t go out right away we were really running out of time. That’s the price you pay when you run those strategies and then run into issues like those. We finally got it figured out when I was in Turn 12 on my out lap, but at that point I could only get in one more lap. Thankfully we were able to get the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet up to third. Obviously we’d like to be on the pole, but with only having one full lap out and that electrical issue I’m happy with where we were able to qualify.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “The car is really good. The Hydroxycut machine was on it. Unfortunately, we have been dealing with some brake issues. We were four tenths up on our fastest lap this morning, but the car is pulling right and it is locking the left front. That is an interesting combination. We had a different problem this morning, but it was along the same lines. We keep throwing new stuff on it, but it just won’t fix it. It’s really frustrating. The Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing guys have done a great job. The car was really strong. It is just tough to turn left when the car pulls right. We’ll work on it tonight and in the warm up tomorrow and see what we can come up with for the race.”
Will Power: “It was a session of all traffic. Every single run I had was traffic. Took a risk in the second round and got through on used tires and that gave us the best shot at the pole because (Scott) Dixon has been very quick. I am really excited to get pole, I really am. Been kind of a rough start of the year for us, but we are firing on all cylinders now. A lot of guys used new tires on every run, and we were the only one on used. I really had to lay it out. We are going to do everything we can to win this damn race. That is what we have to do.”
Takuma Sato: “After the practice session we were looking positive for qualifying but we didn’t have enough speed to go through it. Looks like we had the heavier side of downforce which was good for the cornering and braking but it was too draggy down the straight and we were losing time down the straight.”
Graham Rahal: “We’re surrounded by our championship competitors and the top Honda so it feels good to be in that position. I feel like the Gehl / D-A Lubricant Honda is pretty good going into the race. We’ve got to improve it a little bit but these guys have worked extremely hard to get us in this position. Yeah it would be nice to be on pole but I didn’t think that we had enough to get that once I saw the times those guys did. The 2.5 (1:42.55) I did in Round 2 was just about as good of a lap that I thought I could do. On the last round, we decided to go with new blacks (tires) instead of used reds because maybe used reds will be better tomorrow so I didn’t want to put a second run on them. I thought we could still do a high two on blacks, and we probably could have but I chased throttle extremely hard coming out of Turn 5 and almost looped it so we lost that lap. I haven’t raced on a track this difficult in a long time. It seems like every lap you do, the track gives you a little something different each lap. It’s always a challenge. We need a good win this year and want to get a win for Honda and be the team to get them back in Victory Lane at Road America. It’s a big race for our championship this year. If we can have a good day tomorrow, it could really catapult us up. It’s pretty clear that in this part of the world there is a great amount of support for Indy car racing and it’s awesome to be here.”
Conor Daly: “We have a goal every weekend to try and improve on our last road race result and to keep improving. We got our fifth place qualifying taken from us in Detroit which is a shame but this was more of a legit qualifying session. The car felt good. We weren’t at the tail end of that second group either and that means a lot for us and we got held back on our fastest lap as well which is a shame because of an overboost penalty, but it’s part of the game. To be qualifying in the top 10 that’s what you need to take advantage of things in the race, this gives us better options on strategy and it makes it a little easier on the brains up in the stand to make the calls.”
Gabby Chaves: “I think we expected different conditions, the car wasn’t exactly how I’d want it but this is how these things go, sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe we’ll take the lead on what our teammate is doing, they seem to be finding a way to progress a little bit better than we are so we’ll see what they’re doing and maybe we’ll go that way. We’ll have to see tomorrow. Tire wear is a big concern, we’ll see what everyone else’s strategy is and we’ll see what we can do differently to get around everyone else.”
Spencer Pigot: “Qualifying was tough. I’m still trying to get used to the red tires, there’s so much more grip available and I need to learn how best to maximize a lap. We had two runs on red and made some changes after the first one. We may hay have went too far the other way, but overall it was okay. I think we have some good data to look over from Josef and we can see where we can get better tomorrow.”
Josef Newgarden: “I made a mistake. I feel pretty silly for doing it, but that happens sometimes. You’re pushing pretty hard in these race cars, you’re going to overstep sometimes and that’s what I did right there. I got a little bit wide and got too greedy. I had a really good lap going, the car was fast and I wanted to go for it. I probably should have thought a little better about it being Round 1, you don’t really have to push that hard until the Firestone Fast 6. I was just ready to be on it and try and make something happen. The Direct Supply car should be fast tomorrow, we’ll come back, regroup and try to put the car up as high as we can.”
Simon Pagenaud: “The Menard’s car is actually very good around the track. It was awesome. I thought this track was beautiful. It’s great to be back here. The fans are really amazing, and I’m just very excited, I think, for IndyCar. This is a great opportunity. The campers — we’re sitting here in the bus, and it’s amazing to see the traffic at night. It’s a good sign. The run was good. We didn’t manage the tires the way we should have, I think, for the Firestone Fast Six, but overall we had a good pace. Scott (Dixon) seems to be very strong this weekend, but overall pretty happy.”
Carlos Munoz: “First I have to say I have an unbelievable crew. That was a team effort to put the car back together after some technical issues we had in the practice this morning. It’s a shame we didn’t get to practice this morning before we qualified. But, we are going to start 10th and we’ll see how the race goes. I thought we had a little bit more in the car than that, if I’m honest, but it’s a long race and anything can happen.”
Marco Andretti: “I think we would have been pretty close to (advancing), we just went to the brakes and the car locked the left front and pulled to the right over the curb. We had to abort the lap – unfortunately that was the important lap too. We just got caught out.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “I have a fever and all that stuff today – the shakes, the sweats, the whole thing – not feeling so great, but anytime you’re in the race car the adrenaline just pulls all that out of you. I feel like junk, but (Josef) Newgarden has plates in his shoulder and is out there, so I can manage. The No. 28 DHL car was really good, we just had some issues under braking that ended up sealing our fate today. But P8, we can definitely work from there at Road America. Especially around a track like this with such long straights. It’s phenomenal to be back at Road America. It feels like it’s been way too long. Every driver up and down pit lane loves this place, and the fans make it special as well.”
Jack Hawksworth: “The car felt OK but I got blocked by Charlie Kimball when I was on my black tires and so we came in for the reds. I made a mistake on my first lap on the reds so I just chose to save my tires and push on the second lap. The car felt pretty good but that’s when the red flag came out [for Newgarden] and I never got to put a lap in so feeling pretty gutted. That’s the way it goes I guess.”
Charlie Kimball: “I can’t say that I’m happy with 11th, but I’m pleased with the improvement. I think it shows how much we improved with the simple fact that we’re eight spots better than we’ve been all weekend in any session and just finishing up qualifying when it counts. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys stayed with me and kept working on the car and working on me. We got lucky with the yellow in the first session, but we’d done the lap time when we needed to and that really played well for making it into the next segment. We’ll keep an eye on the weather and see if it’s going to be wet in the warmup tomorrow, but we’ll go from there and see what we want to do in the race as far as the alternate and primary Firestones. We really need to decide which one is going to last. I know 50 laps doesn’t sound like much, but around here that’s still 200 miles.”
Alexander Rossi: “I’m very upset to have our qualifying session go that way. We had a car that was good enough to be in the top six and to have our laps aborted because of traffic and red flags is more than disappointing. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow.”