Will Power hasn’t tasted the milk at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but he has had a lot of success on the road course. Power won the race in 2015 from pole, and he is clearly the favorite heading into tomorrow’s IndyCar Grand Prix.
Power broke the track record on his way to earning his second pole for this race, and the 47th of his career. His record-breaking lap was 1:07.7044 seconds, which came during the Firestone Fast Six. Power and his Penske teammate Helio Castroneves are the only two drivers to earn pole this season. The Brazilian will join Power on the front row tomorrow.
Qualification Results for the IndyCar Grand Prix
Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon will share Row 2 on Saturday, as Juan Montoya and Sebastien Bourdais will start from Row 3. Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, and James Hinchcliffe round out the top ten starters. Five of the top seven cars belong to Team Penske, including the first three. Indy 500 winners Hunter-Reay and Rossi gave Andretti a decent result, and Marco Andretti starts in 11th position.
Both Graham Rahal and JR Hildebrand will have their work cut out for them, as they start 20th and 21st. It was another run of bad luck for Rahal, but the team apparently knows what the issue is with the car.
Still searching for his first win of the season, Power has now qualified on the front row in four of the first five races this year. He knows his car is good, but there are a lot of good Penske machines he’ll have to stay in front of. “It will be tough to beat (my teammates),” he said. “They’re all very good and all have a great shot. Just have to do everything possible, like I’ve been doing every week. Can’t back off.”
For Newgarden, a good finish here would be something he hasn’t had yet. In the three IndyCar Grand Prix races, his finishes are 17th, 20th, and 21st respectively. In fact, Newgarden, Andretti, and Carlos Munoz are all searching for their first top ten finish in this race. Castroneves and Charlie Kimball are the only two drivers that have finished all three races in the top ten. Kimball is the only driver to finish in the top five in all three events. He’ll have to work some magic to keep that streak alive though, as he starts 19th tomorrow.
The race distance is 85 laps, which is 207.3 miles around the 2.439-mile 14-turn road course. Pagenaud is the defending race winner, capturing the checkered flag after starting from pole position.
Coverage for the IndyCar Grand Prix begins at 3:30 PM ET on ABC.
Simon Pagenaud: “It just didn’t work out and wasn’t our day. The Menards Chevy team worked really hard throughout the day, but it doesn’t always go the way you’d like. We’ll start seventh which isn’t terrible. We came from the back at St. Pete. You never know what’s going to happen. I feel really good about the car and look forward to a good result tomorrow in the race.”
Josef Newgarden: “We’ve not had a strong result (here at the INDYCAR Grand Prix). Last year qualified in the Firestone Fast Six but went to the back with a penalty. It’s never been kind with one thing or the other, but that doesn’t mean much for tomorrow. I’m not going to be looking at history to try and figure out how our day is going to go tomorrow. I think we had fast cars all weekend. We had all our guys pretty much up there, and Will (Power) was really good. He laid down a good lap. I think we’re going to be hard pressed to beat our teammates. That’s what we’ve got to do tomorrow is beat Will, bet Helio (Castroneves, beat Juan (Pablo Montoya), and you can never count out (Scott) Dixon. I think he’ll be strong in race conditions. It’ll be tough. Hopefully we can right the wrongs we’ve had here in the past.”
Helio Castroneves: “I’m really excited. Now in the Verizon colors, it’s going to look good, actually, the front row between the Verizon super aero, so looking excited to be honest, especially in a place here that’s always very tough and is very technical. I had up and down for the first time we’re at least very consistent during qualifying. Jonathan Diuguid, my engineer, and all the rest of our engineers, they work really well together, and let me tell you guys, it’s tough. When you put all of those guys together, you have a little bit of strategy going on, and obviously it’s very tough. But Will right now is definitely qualifying — like I said before, when you match a good driver with probably where he feels comfortable and with a good car, I mean, he’s made a very good lap. Excited for tomorrow. Hopefully we have a good, clean start, and see what happens in the race.”
Conor Daly: “The good thing is that the car is quite good. We are currently working with Chevrolet to diagnose what caused an issue that affected pit road speed. As a result, we didn’t get to run any laps before we got on the reds. The wind changed a little bit in Turn 1, I made a small mistake there but we really should have made it in. The car was good enough to do it, so once Chevy and our team get to the root of what happened, it will get corrected and we will be good for tomorrow’s race.”
James Hinchcliffe: “Tomorrow is going to be a long day for the Arrow Electronics crew. We rolled off the truck for our worst Friday that we’ve had all season which is unfortunate. Our car really isn’t where we’d like it to be, and we haven’t had the ideal time today to get a good grasp on it all… Hopefully now that we’ve got a good night ahead to sleep on it, we can take a bit of a closer look at everything and try and put together a plan. We’ll put our heads down and try to put on a good show tomorrow.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “It was definitely not what we were expecting to get out of qualifying. We struggled a little today but we made a few good changes between sessions. Tomorrow is what matters, so we’ll see what we can do to make the most of our starting position in the Lucas Oil Honda.”
Max Chilton: “I was pretty happy with the Gallagher car this morning and we really showed some pace. We were leading the second session with about 10 minutes to go and working on changes to the car. We just didn’t find any grip in qualifying and should have been up in the mix. Not where we wanted to end up.”
Scott Dixon: “I think we unloaded fast and had a good start to the day in practice overall with the NTT Data car. The second practice didn’t really allow us to lay down a good lap with the timing of the red flag at the end of the session. I’m pretty happy with the car but the Chevys are going to be hard to beat. I think it will be an interesting race and anything can happen here.”
Tony Kanaan: “We definitely wanted to qualify better than we did today in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda, but we just couldn’t get the lap times to get us through to the Firestone Fast Six. We struggled in the morning sessions to find the grip we needed. Starting in the middle of the pack is never where you want to be, but I think we have a good race car and we’re excited to get back on track tomorrow.”
Will Power: “The car was great on used tires, and I thought on the new tires, I had a bit of understeer. I thought that it would really come in on used tires. In the Firestone Fast Six the car had a fantastic balance and did a really neat lap. I was actually up on the second set and then got too greedy at the end. Really cool to start at the front again, really determined to have a good race. I’ve been knocking on the door every week, and one is going to go our way here soon. You put yourself in that position, it’ll happen. That’s the plan.”
Carlos Munoz: “I was really disappointed with qualifying. I think we started really good today. Then during qualifying, we just didn’t get the lap right or the car right. I don’t know what really happened. We have a long race tomorrow, anything can happen but I know we have to work hard.”
Graham Rahal: “We struggled in qualifying for sure. This morning we were pretty confident because the car was good. And as the track temp has come up like this – which we saw with the car in Alabama too – for some reason we lose a significant amount of front grip. I saw that on the primary tires at the start of qualifying but I was hoping it was kind of an oddball thing. And when we went to the reds, we just didn’t have the pace. Unfortunately in the two practice sessions before, we couldn’t build fuel pressure so we weren’t getting full power so our guys have been chasing that. And we hadn’t made many chassis adjustments because the car was pretty close but nowadays when advancing (the next round in qualifying) or not is a couple of tenths (of a second), we didn’t advance. It’s a frustrating day.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “Well, I mean, it’s actually the first good qualifying effort to be honest. You know, we really struggled with pace and couldn’t quite get things where we wanted to be. It’s the first time we were a legit Firestone Fast Six car and we’re in the mix, we’re in the fight, this fight being in the middle of a Penske fest. You know, it’s quite good, really, you know, to be – I feel like we’re in a bit of the minority here with Scott (Dixon). No, really, hats off to those boys, and our Honda tech guy did a really, really nice job, as well, in qualifying, and we did a good performance, and we did everything we had to do and did it well, and it was pretty close. Made a small mistake on that last lap in Segment 3, I just went for it, like OK, we just need a little bit more, and lost the rear in the start of the lap. So that turned into a one-lap-only effort. But there were countless hours to build that car back up from what it was after Phoenix, which really wasn’t much at all left. So you know, they worked every day except Sunday. It’s a big testament to that small organization that’s really got inspiration to grow and develop, and it’s just a cool feeling.”
Ed Jones: “In the first two practice sessions we had a few issues which made it really difficult to learn and progress. But we made some big changes heading into qualifying and went close to what Seb (Bourdais) had. That allowed us to make a big jump. I was really close to the fast 12, by less than a half of a tenth to the two guys in front. So it’s frustrating not to get to progress through to the next round, but it’s still massive to qualify where we did. Much better than we expected after the two practice sessions.”
Spencer Pigot: “It is frustrating not to have qualified higher up based on how well everything went earlier today. We will just have to go back to see where we can improve and have a better day tomorrow.”
JR Hildebrand: “In the end, a frustrating session, we had a balance in the car that was maybe going to be tricky, but it was where we were trying to get to all day. I feel like we made some progress with the setup in terms of finding different things. Our qualifying session was a cluster. We got backed up on our first timed lap, a lap didn’t end up being worth anything. Then, I got a drive thorough for exiting in front of someone else. I found a clear lap at the end, but at that stage the red (tires) were past their prime. It was frustrating to have that kind of a session and to start where we are tomorrow. Indy is definitely a place to pass – guys have come from the back before, so we’ll have to do something similar tomorrow.”
Juan Montoya: “I thought it was pretty good. The last run when we saw that Will ran, I mean, when I ran that flat the second session, I ran whatever it is, the 68 flat in the second session, I made a couple mistakes, and I thought, I got probably an 80 or something in me, I’m going to give it a go, and instead of going faster made a couple mistakes went slower in the first lap, and in the second lap I really nailed the start of the lap and I nailed Turn 12 and when I went to Turn 13 spun the tires and bad spun. Yeah, I got it like just a big drift, and when I went to the extra time, I was fourth ends in one second corner. That’s it. But it’s okay, last time I qualified was September or something last year, so I feel pretty good. I’m working with a new engineer with Raul and with Ron Ruzewski, and we seem to have really good chemistry, doing a really good job together, and to be honest, making — our goal was to make the Fast Six, and we did, and to be honest, we had pace to be second fastest today no problem. I missed it by a tenth and a half, and I made a hundred mistakes in the lap.”
Takuma Sato: “Disappointing qualifying. The car didn’t seem to work as well as we planned it at all. Maybe some issues, we need to look at the data. I did try pretty hard with the driving but it was just a rough time. It just didn’t come at all.”
Marco Andretti: “I just wish we wouldn’t have used the second set (of tires) in Segment 1 because we were just handcuffed on used tires in Segment 2 against everybody on new (tires). We didn’t need the second set, the UFD car was fast enough on the first and we did it and that’s all we had. We had used tires in Segment 2 and that’s what it came down to. I think if we would’ve had new we would’ve been all right.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We had some hiccups earlier in the day that prevented us from really getting a good read on the car prior to qualifying. In qualifying, we had our challenges but we stepped up. Not exactly happy with P8, but not overly disappointed either. We can work from there and hopefully tomorrow we can move the DHL car forward and challenge for a podium.”
Charlie Kimball: “I’m obviously frustrated with our day overall and especially with our qualifying position. The car and I just weren’t ever on the same page to be honest, which made it hard to get the lap times we needed. Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing has had success here in the past, but we won’t be able to rest on that for tomorrow’s race. We’ll work hard tonight and make sure the No. 83 Tresiba Honda is where it needs to be to charge to the front tomorrow.”
Alexander Rossi: “It was an OK qualifying. We’re missing two-tenths (of a second) to the top Honda and that’s not because of anything major. The NAPA Auto Parts car is in the window, but we’re going up against four cars from the other side who have a bit of an advantage here. We’ll just have to keep plugging away and maximize our opportunities tomorrow.”