Andretti Autosport’s Takuma Sato in the No.26 Honda had a fantastic qualifying session for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg as the Japanese driver will start the race from fifth place.
Speaking following the session, Sato commented by saying:
I’m extremely pleased about today’s results after having a very difficult day yesterday. My crew worked very hard to get everything together. I really have to appreciate all of my teammates – Alexander (Rossi), Marco (Andretti) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay) – they all helped me out to get things put together on the engineering side after losing track time yesterday. Everything really worked well. Up until today’s practice I was still a bit nervous to get comfortable in the car in such a short time after having a tragic yesterday. Qualifying was a different feeling, but I was extremely happy in the car. It’s really a great job for Honda here this weekend.
Alexander Rossi in the No.98 NAPA Auto Parts Honda will start the race from eighth place and speaking following the session he commented by saying:
We had the potential to be in the Firestone Fast Six, but we just didn’t put that second lap together to get up there. I think we made a bit of a change in-session that wasn’t great. All in all, I think this is the best place we’ve ever started from on a street course, so that’s the positive side. I’m disappointed to miss the Fast Six because I know that we’re quickest on the (Firestone Primary) Blacks in that second run before going to (Alternate) Reds. I think the potential is there, we just didn’t put it together. But, we’re still starting inside the top eight, and will fight to take the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda to the front.
Ryan Hunter Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda will start the race from 12th place and speaking following the session he commented by saying:
We were just trying to get that extra bit today – these street circuits are always difficult that way. I had a bit of a moment there, corrected and then it came back and I slapped the wall hard enough to bend the left, rear toe-link… white-walled it a few times this weekend, but that was the biggest one. We’re always pushing hard. Big thanks to the DHL guys for thrashing there, they almost had us back out in time – it was just a matter of seconds, another 45 seconds and I think we would have made it out. Completely on me, I was just pushing, trying to get every last lap out of (the car). Looking to tomorrow, the qualifying car is going to be a lot different from the race car, we’ll see. Last year we had a good race car, so we’ll lean on that a bit and try to make it happen.
Following a strong start to the weekend on Friday where he topped the times in the opening session, Marco Andretti in the No.27 hhgregg Honda ended the session in 15th place and speaking following the session he commented by saying:
This (qualifying result) is hard to swallow. We just overacted because we were really loose on (Firestone Primary) Blacks. So, we overacted with the car set up and it wouldn’t turn on the (Alternate) Reds. We would have been better off not having made the changes and just running. This one hurts because the hhgregg car is faster than this. Last year I went to the back of the field, and felt like I had the pace to come through so we’re hoping for that.