Team Penske’s Will Power claimed his 45th Verizon IndyCar Series pole position for Sunday’s season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg. Power, who missed the race here last year due to illness will start the race just ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon.
Speaking following the session, Power commented by saying:
(On what it takes to have a strong qualifying in St. Petersburg) “It takes obviously a very good team and kind of getting through that first round there. Taking the risk on just doing one lap was good for me, definitely had a bit more meat on the tires in the last round there. We worked on the car too. Made a bit of a wrong setup change there for the last round, and kind of just made it, and went back and did something else. So yeah, very happy to be on pole. It’s really tight competition.
Josef Newgarden in the No.2 Verizon Chevrolet will start his first race with Penske from fourth place just behind James Hinchcliffe and speaking following his qualifying run, Newgarden commented by saying:
I have been told numerous times that this car has been victorious twice in the last two years here. So no pressure, right? Hopefully go get it done. But I think we have a good start. Fourth place, it’s the best that I’ve started around St. Pete here, so I think our guys did a great job. I feel like I didn’t maximize that final Firestone Fast Six as much as I could have, but I also don’t think I would have gotten Will (Power). I think Will put a really good lap together. He did an awesome job. We’ve had good cars. I think our race cars off the truck have actually been pretty good, and we haven’t had to do much. We’ve been able to stay inside of our window for the most part this weekend. I’m excited. You know, the next thing for us now and certainly for me is to learn the race car, how it’s going to perform over a tire stint. We haven’t done much of that, at least I haven’t, with the team here at Team Penske, so I’m excited to figure out that portion. As you said, they’ve had luck with this car in the past, so hopefully it’s going to be a strong race car, and I think we can do a good job with the Verizon No. 2 car this weekend, and hopefully we can seal it up for tomorrow.
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud in the No.1 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet will start the race from 14th place and speaking following the session, the Frenchman commented by saying:
Well, we’re certainly disappointed, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to pack up and go home. The PPG Chevrolet team and I will go to work and figure out how we can improve. They are the best in the business. We have our work cut out for us, but once the race starts, all sorts of things can happen.
Helio Castroneves will start the race from 16th place in the No.3 Hitachi Chevrolet and speaking following the session, the Brazilian commented by saying:
We didn’t miss by much, but that’s how close it is in this series. Fortunately, I have the Hitachi Chevy guys behind me and I have all the confidence in the world that they can give me a car to go to the front. You just want to get to the next round. Anything can happen. We came up a little short, but I think we have a great race car.