Three spirited rounds of qualifying, with the provisional pole winner taking a hydro-plane ride into the main straightaway wall left the door open for a determined young driver to gain his first Verizon IndyCar Series Pole here at the Brickyard.
Sebastian Saavedra, whose previous best start was 6th at Milwaukee in 2013, ran fast all through the 3 segments of qualifying to become the first ever Pole winner for the Inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Intermittent rain throughout the qualifying session resulted in one red flag and then a yellow to end the final Fast Six session prematurely.
The front row for the race today will consist of two young drivers, Saavedra and Jack Hawksworth who qualified second. Once the green flag drops, the standing start should generate plenty of action as the next four cars in the mix are Ryan Hunter-Reay (3rd), Simon Pagenaud (4th), Will Power (5th) and defending series champion Scott Dixon (6th), all strong contenders for the win. Also in the mix are the likes of Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan, James Hincliffe, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal, just to name a few.
Twenty-five entries, all with differing qualifying speeds and strategies, will take the green flag at 3:50pm, on the newly-designed 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course that many of the drivers have promised will create some great racing.
Scott Dixon was very pleased with the road course re-design stating: “The thing they captured, it’s a demanding circuit. The cars all seem very close which is going to create some fantastic racing. These big straights, I think Brazil is probably the only other time we’ve had a straight similar length like this. You’re actually a lot lower here. The sections, especially (Turns) 7, 8, 9, 10 keeps you on your toes. I’m really impressed with how everything’s gone. Even the curbing, they’ve done a fantastic job.”
Graham Rahal, who had done the initial testing of the course several week ago, explained: “This is one of the best road courses we go to. I had a blast out there. The last section – Turns 7, 8, 9 and 10 are a hoot. The speed on the straight is up over 190 mph and it’s the fastest place we go already and we didn’t expect that at all. When we pulled out to do our install lap I came in and told them I thought we were out of gear already so that’s why we didn’t run the first hour and 20 minutes. I think the race will be really good, there will be a lot of passing. We (drivers) all gave our input. I told them what I thought and Kanaan clearly had a lot of voice in this as did Briscoe who was here with me at the initial test and gave Derrick (Walker) some ideas of what we thought needed to be done. Pretty much what we mentioned then is what we have now. It is really fun. I hope we get a great crowd because I can tell you we will put on a good show here. The thing that makes this different is that it’s IMS. This place genuinely cares about making a good race track. The curbs are phenomenal as is the layout. Unfortunately our day ended early when we had a problem with something engine related.”
It’s with these testaments that it appears all of the pieces are in place for a terrific race at Indianapolis today.
Qualification Results — The Grand Prix of Indianapolis
|1||17||Sebastian Saavedra||1:23.8822||104.675||Firestone Fast Six|
|2||98||Jack Hawksworth (R)||1:24.0788||104.431||Firestone Fast Six|
|3||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||1:24.8882||103.435||Firestone Fast Six|
|4||77||Simon Pagenaud||1:25.2881||102.950||Firestone Fast Six|
|5||12||Will Power||1:25.5216||102.669||Firestone Fast Six|
|6||9||Scott Dixon||1:25.6548||102.509||Firestone Fast Six|
|7||11||Sebastien Bourdais||1:24.5187||103.887||Round 2 / Top 12|
|8||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||1:24.6209||103.762||Round 2 / Top 12|
|9||10||Tony Kanaan||1:24.7099||103.653||Round 2 / Top 12|
|10||3||Helio Castroneves||1:24.8839||103.440||Round 2 / Top 12|
|11||27||James Hinchcliffe||1:25.1318||103.139||Round 2 / Top 12|
|12||15||Graham Rahal||1:25.4748||102.725||Round 2 / Top 12|
|13||25||Marco Andretti||1:10.2488||124.990||Qual / Group 1|
|14||8||Ryan Briscoe||1:10.2261||125.030||Qual / Group 2|
|15||67||Josef Newgarden||1:10.3601||124.792||Qual / Group 1|
|16||14||Takuma Sato||1:10.2804||124.934||Qual / Group 2|
|17||18||Carlos Huertas (R)||1:10.4264||124.675||Qual / Group 1|
|18||19||Justin Wilson||1:10.4141||124.697||Qual / Group 2|
|19||34||Carlos Munoz (R)||1:10.5097||124.528||Qual / Group 1|
|20||41||Martin Plowman (R)||1:10.4591||124.617||Qual / Group 2|
|21||26||Franck Montagny||1:10.5571||124.444||Qual / Group 1|
|22||16||Oriol Servia||1:10.5996||124.369||Qual / Group 2|
|23||83||Charlie Kimball||1:10.6413||124.296||Qual / Group 1|
|24||20||Mike Conway||1:10.6535||124.274||Qual / Group 2|
|25||7||Mikhail Aleshin (R)||1:11.2704||123.198||Qual / Group 2|
|Pursuant to Rule 126.96.36.199, Car 7 – best 2 lap times invalidated in his session.
Pursuant to Rule 8.3.5, Car 28 – best 2 lap times invalidated in his session
7 a.m. – Garage opens
10:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series Systems Check (one time out and in).
2:45 p.m. – Grand Prix of Indianapolis pre-race
3:43 p.m. – “Drivers Start Your Engines”
3:50 p.m. – Green Flag, Grand Prix of Indianapolis (82 laps/200 miles), ABC (Live).
Photos Courtesy of IndyCar / Indianapolis Motor Speedway