Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud goes into the Verizon IndyCar Series 2016 season finale GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma having secured a bonus point in the race for the championship.
The Frenchman who drives the No.22 Hewlett Packard Enterprises Chevrolet scored his seventh Verizon P1 Award on Saturday evening setting a fastest time of 01:16.2565s and speaking following the session he commented by saying:
It feels great. Most importantly up until now there was no thinking about the race, no thinking about the outcome. It was all about raw speed. Obviously the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet has been amazing. We certainly prepared really well in practice. Everything went perfectly all weekend so far. It was about preparing the car for the red Firestone tires, which we know I’m always more comfortable on those tires, so I can always extract a little bit more from myself. We had good balance on the car. The first lap, put the red Firestone tires on. I went on the radio and said, ‘Wow, this is going to be good.’ We were able to replicate the lap time every time. Unbelievable that we could actually replicate the lap time in the Firestone Fast Six with used tires. Certainly I did everything I could by challenging every high-speed corners that I could. I was on the edge, but it was a really good lap. Super proud of these guys. The guys on the No. 22 team, seven poles this season, four wins. No matter what happens tomorrow, it’s been an incredible season.
Helio Castroneves in the No.3 Hitachi Chevrolet who is in a fight with reigning series champion Scott Dixon in the No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet will start Sunday’s race on the front row alongside Pagenaud and speaking following his session, the Brazilian commented by saying:
Man, that was so close. The Hitachi Chevy has been fast all weekend and we showed it again today in qualifying. We felt good with our approach and the car was really consistent. I made just a little mistake and that probably cost us in the end because Simon (Pagenaud) was so fast, especially on red tires. Congratulations to Simon – that is good for him in the championship – and what a great job by Team Penske to qualify 1-2-3-4. It just shows how well we are working together. It’s still good to start P2, but I’d rather be on top tomorrow instead of today, so we need to focus and try to finish the year strong with a win.
Juan Pablo Montoya in the No.2 Verizon Chevrolet will be looking to end his season off as he started it with a win. The Colombian who has struggled this season will start the race from third place after setting a time of 01:16.5400s and speaking following the session the Colombian commented by saying:
It was a good run for our hum by Verizon car. We had a really good day today and we knew we had a shot at it. I could just put the gas down in a couple of corners because the car had a little oversteer, especially in (Turn 7). But overall I am happy with it. It’s nice to see Penske sweep the front two rows. I know we did it in St. Pete, but didn’t start that way after Will couldn’t race. It’s neat to be a part of.
Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet is still in with a chance of winning the championship and will start the race from fourth place with a fastest time of 01:16.6659s and speaking following the session, Power commented by saying:
We just really pretty much didn’t have it all in qualifying. Just thereabouts. I think we’ve been like that in practice, as well. Just hanging in there, a top-six car. Same in qualifying. Definitely were worse on the red tires. That’s all I could do in qualifying, that was everything I had and the car had. I think we have to look at my braking, had some braking issues. Very much different brake bias than these guys. Might be something there that we’re missing because we just haven’t been there. It’s a long race. I think it’s going to be a race of degradation. It’s going to be really interesting the way the tires go.