Team Penske’s Will Power starts the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg from the front row in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet alongside Verizon P1 Award winning Robert Wickens.
Power who set a fastest time of 01:01.7346s commented after the session by saying:
Starting up at the front is definitely better as far as getting through the first corner and that sort of thing. Obviously pole is the best position you can be in. It will be interesting. We don’t know how these cars race. I know they follow well, but I don’t think they draft that well. But yeah, very close (to pole position). I had a big mis-shift during my lap where I just got stuck in gear for quite a while, and then when I saw how tight it was, it was like, yeah, probably lost a tenth of a second or so there. Fantastic job by (Robert) Wickens, first time out, to get pole.”
Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet will start the race from 11th place on the grid. The 2016 series champion set a fastest time of 01:04.6739s and speaking following the session the Frenchman said:
Mother Nature kind of got us today. The Menards Chevy was really good for qualifying but in the second round we just didn’t execute with our tires the right way for the rain we saw toward the end. We should have put on the red Firestone tires early on and that would have helped in the end. Instead we struggled to stay on track when it was wet and we couldn’t advance. The good news is we feel really good about the car for Sunday’s race and the Menards guys will work to get us up to the front.”
Defending series champion Josef Newgarden in the No.1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet had a disappointing session as the Tennessee native starts the race from 13th place.
Speaking following the session he commented by saying:
Not the best qualifying for us. Everyone picked up more than I thought they would but, for us, it just wasn’t enough. I didn’t do a good enough lap and it’s a shame we weren’t able to capitalize more in our first session for the year, but I feel like we’ve got a great car. I’m really happy with the Chevrolet engine that we’ve got this weekend. I think we’ve got what it takes to win this race and it’s been fun driving the Hitachi car for the first time so, not the perfect way to start the weekend off, but I think we’ll have a good car.”