Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi in the No.27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda continued his great form at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday afternoon as the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner claimed his first Verizon P1 Award of the season with a 01:06.5528s and speaking following the session Rossi commented by saying:
“The team is doing a great job. Hats off to all of them, to Honda, to everyone who has put in so much effort. The big job is tomorrow so we have to execute that. I feel like we have given up to two potential wins so we are trying not to do that again tomorrow. But, the team definitely executed some NAPA Know How today and we are really happy to start from the best spot tomorrow. Obviously you go out every single session and believe that you have the best car and the best opportunity to do it. We have been so strong, we were strong here last year. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda has been so fast and I’m looking forward to leading the field tomorrow.”
Ryan Hunter Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda looked on target to join Rossi on the front row however he was handed a drive through penalty during the round two of qualifying and as a result the American did not advance to the Firestone Fast Six.
Speaking after qualifying seventh for the race with a lap time of 01:07.1415s he commented by saying:
The DHL guys did a great job with the car and they deserve better. We had a front row car here, and we’re starting seventh. The drive through penalty in qualifying isn’t something I really understand, and once we got issued that we didn’t have time to warm up the tires and set a new fast lap. What we do is, we leave with a certain amount of time to get exactly the two or three laps we need. The tires are set to a pressure timed to those number of laps, so when you get a drive through like that your [tire temperatures] aren’t up yet, and you can’t get up to speed in time.
Speaking about his penalty, Hunter Reay said:
We were in the top 12 and had a car that was easily fast enough to advance. We were leaving the pits on red tires and we did what I’ve always done here – which is put the right-side tires on the right side of the reflectors on the end of pit lane. From the vantage point in the car, you can’t see any paint down or anything else, so that’s what we’ve always gone on. They’re saying there’s an issue and I cut the end of the line and my timing beacon didn’t register on their system, so they immediately penalized me with a drive through. Our data says that same beacon did trip the transponder, the timing beacon. We’re at a loss for what actually happened. Beyond that, I feel none of this has anything to do with qualifying. [The rule] is put in place for racing purposes so a car on pit lane does not come out in front of a car on the racetrack – but there were no other cars in the vicinity. I’m very frustrated with the call and we’re working to understand the discrepancy between our data and [INDYCAR’s]
Zach Veach starts the race from 16th place in the No.26 Group One Thousand One Honda with a time of 01:08.1763s and speaking following the session he commented by saying:
We missed advancing slightly today. I got into the wall on the blacks in the first run, so was maybe a little too caution at the end when we shouldn’t have been. The Andretti cars have been great, obviously Ryan and Alex are really liking what they have. I just need more time to figure it out. We were close to advancing in St. Pete and here, so hopefully in Barber we’ll figure it out. But we have a race to focus on now, and we’re looking forward to it.
Marco Andretti in the No.98 US Concrete Honda starts the race from 20th place with a fastest time of 01:08.5294s and speaking following the session he said:
“I made a mistake pushing too hard into (Turn 1) and ended up in the runoff. Once we flat spotted the tires, we didn’t really have hopes of a faster lap. It’s on me and that is going to make it hard to sleep tonight. We were riddled with an issue yesterday and the whole crew worked really hard last night to get to the bottom of it and correct it. We kind of started from scratch this morning and I think we headed in the right direction. I think the U.S. Concrete / Curb car had the pace to advance. Starting 20th doesn’t show our true pace, or the true talents of the 98 team.”