Archive for May 13, 2016

Simon Pagenaud on his way to garnering the pole for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis — Image by Mike Harding

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, May 13, 2016) – Simon Pagenaud’s bright new car paint scheme didn’t slow his torrid run to start the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Driving the fluorescent yellow No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet for the first time this season, Pagenaud won the Verizon P1 Award for pole position in qualifying for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Winner of the most recent two races this season, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader notched his second straight pole of 2016 and fourth of his career with a lap of 1 minute, 8.6868 seconds (127.832 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six – the last of three rounds of knockout qualifying. He will lead the 25-car field to the green flag in Saturday’s 82-lap race on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in racing,” said Pagenaud, who hasn’t finished lower than second in the first four races this season. The 31-year-old Frenchman is in his second year with Team Penske and seventh overall racing Indy cars.

“I’m driving the best I’ve driven, ever,” Pagenaud added. “Little by little, you get confidence with success. Team Penske, they give me the best car. If I drive it well, you should expect to be up there. To be up there so often is certainly the best feeling in the world.”

GPI Qual Results

Charlie Kimball, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet, will start next to Pagenaud on Row 1 following a career-best qualifying effort. Kimball’s lap in the Firestone Fast Six was 1:08.9816 (127.286 mph).

“We made the race car better and better and we didn’t focus too much on qualifying, so I think we have a good pace for tomorrow,” Kimball said. “Having finished fifth here the last two years, I’m looking forward to the race. It’s neat to be on the front row.

“Congrats to Simon for getting the pole. I think we would have had to have the perfect lap to be able to match his lap time.”

Pagenaud won races last month on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., and the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Ala., leading up to this epic month of May at Indianapolis that includes the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 29. He is the only driver to qualify for the Firestone Fast Six in all four road/street-course events this season.

“It’s not that simple, it’s a lot of work in the background,” said Pagenaud, who won the first Angie’s List Grand Prix in 2014 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.” I just want to take my hat off to my engineer, Ben Bretzman, for giving me a monster car every time. It’s a lot of fun for me right now, the whole team is functioning so well. The decision process from (strategist) Kyle Moyer to do one lap each segment was all him. It’s really a team sport.”

Will Power, Pagenaud’s teammate at Team Penske, set the track record in Segment 1 of qualifying with a lap of 1:08.6746. It broke Power’s own record set last year by more than eight-tenths of a second, but the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske failed to advance from Segment 2 to the Firestone Fast Six and will start the race in the 12th spot.

“We were great in practice and I messed up in qualifying (brushing the wall), again” said Power, who won the 2015 race from the pole. “It seems like it’s every week now. It’s getting pretty frustrating. It’s difficult to race from the back in these races, but that’s what we’ll do tomorrow in our Verizon Chevy.”

Graham Rahal qualifying for the Angie's List Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- Image by Joe Skibinski

Graham Rahal qualifying for the Angie’s List Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — Image by Joe Skibinski

Two cars that had reached the Firestone Fast Six were penalized during the post-qualifying technical inspection for failing to meet the minimum car weight. The No. 15 of Graham Rahal, which had qualified third, and the No. 21 of Josef Newgarden, which qualified fifth, had their times voided according to Rule 14.3.1.1 of the Verizon IndyCar Series Rule Book and will start from the rear of the field.

Josef Newgarden qualifying for the Angie's List Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- Image by Joe Skibinski

Josef Newgarden qualifying for the Angie’s List Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — Image by Joe Skibinski

With the changes, Row 2 consists of James Hinchcliffe in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (a season-best start with a time of 1:09.2260, 126.837 mph) and Jack Hawksworth in the No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda (also a season-best start with a time of 1:09.5141, 126.311 mph).

Tony Kanaan, in the No. 10 NTT Group Chevrolet, and Juan Pablo Montoya, in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevy, will be in Row 3.

Scott Dixon, who trails Pagenaud by 48 points for the championship lead, will start ninth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

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WGI

• Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights will race at historic permanent road course on Sept. 1-4
• Tickets for the event go on sale next week and will be available at TheGlen.com
• Event – 60 laps – broadcast live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, May 13, 2016) – INDYCAR announced today that the Verizon IndyCar Series will return to Watkins Glen International for an event on Sept. 1-4. Tickets for the Labor Day weekend event – which will also feature Indy Lights – will go on sale next week and will be available for purchase at TheGlen.com and by calling (866) 461-RACE. The race will be the 15th event on the 16-race schedule and will likely play an integral role in the chase for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

“It’s great to have the Verizon IndyCar Series return to Watkins Glen,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations. “A tremendous amount of thanks goes to Track President Michael Printup and his entire staff for their efforts in helping make this a reality in such a short time frame. Obviously, Watkins Glen has great racing history and it’s a track that will showcase the on-track competition and overall excitement level of our series. Our season is off to a great start and we can’t wait to bring the Verizon IndyCar Series back to our fans at Watkins Glen.”

Watkins Glen joins Phoenix International Raceway and Road America in a 2016 schedule that returns INDYCAR to fan-favorite venues with deep history in the sport. The 60-lap event will be held on the track’s 3.4-mile permanent road course and broadcast live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, XM 209 and Sirius 212.

“We’re excited to welcome INDYCAR back to The Glen,” said Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup. “The fact that we could put this deal together so quickly shows how motivated each party was to make this happen for the fans and the competitors. I know our team has the capability to make this a premier event for INDYCAR, and I believe the drivers are really going to love the new asphalt and that translates into an exciting weekend for the fans. It’s truly a win-win for everyone.”

Watkins Glen International has hosted nine past Indy car races, from 1979-81 and again from 2005-10. The first two events were run on the 2.4-mile short course and were both won by Bobby Unser. The race moved to the 3.4-mile long course in 1981 when another Indy car legend, Rick Mears, drove to victory.

“We’d also like to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for his support and diligence in bringing this international event back to Watkins Glen International,” Printup continued. “Tourism in the Finger Lakes Region and across New York State will benefit from this exciting addition to our 2016 schedule.””

The Verizon IndyCar Series returned to the historic circuit in 2005, with Scott Dixon winning three straight years before Ryan Hunter-Reay won in 2008 for Rahal Letterman Racing, Justin Wilson secured the first-ever Indy car win for Dale Coyne Racing in 2009 and Will Power took the checkered flag for Team Penske in 2010.

The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season continues with the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14 (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET) and includes the highly anticipated 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 29 (ABC, 11 a.m. ET). For information on the series, its 16-race schedule and the 100th Running of the Indy 500, visit www.indycar.com

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