Team Penske’s Verizon IndyCar Series championship points leader Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet took his sixth Verizon P1 Award of the season in Mid-Ohio on Saturday.
The Frenchman posted a fastest time of 01:03.8700s and in doing so set a lap record at the Mid-Ohio sports car course. Speaking following the session, Pagenaud commented by saying:
I didn’t know about that (new track record). That is good. The PPG Chevrolet has been really good this weekend. It was more on me really because I have been struggling a little bit with my really bad lower back. They did a lot work on me. We didn’t need to do too much on the car, more on me this weekend. We put those Firestone red tires on and again, the car was beautiful. That was an interesting qualifying. The expectation of rain, no rain. There were some drops in Segment 2 that made it more difficult. And there at the end I think the strategy was perfect to start (the Firestone Fast Six segment). (A win) is exactly what we need to do for the championship. It is a long season, so if you can repeat wins like we were doing at the beginning of the season then it would be great to extend the gap. We’ve been just as competitive all year. It has been just an incredible year. A lot of fun for sure.
Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet will start the race from the front row alongside Pagenaud. The Australian had set the lap record of 01:03.9381s but for Pagenaud to take the pole right at the end of the session.
Power goes into the race on Sunday having won three from the last four races and in doing so has closed the gap in the race for the championship to 47 points behind Pagenaud to five races left this season.
Speaking following the session Power commented by saying:
It was just like mayhem not knowing what tires to use, and everyone went out on reds so we went out and did one lap on blacks and came straight in for reds. It was just a mixed-up session, and it was tiring as hell because you had to run every single lap like — the Firestone Fast Six, I took a lap to take a breather. It was crazy. Good to start the Verizon Chevrolet on the front row. Going to be a pretty long day, 90 laps around this joint is tough. I’ll see what I can do.
Helio Castroneves in the No.3 Hitachi Chevrolet will start the race from seventh place having set a time of 01:04.4300s and speaking following the session he stated:
We just missed the final round by a little bit. We have to stop doing that. Seriously, the Hitachi Chevrolet felt good today. The guys give me a great car every week. They’re the best. It would be great to start a little closer to the front, but we’ll see how the yellows shake out tomorrow during the race. I’m excited and think we’ll be able to make some noise.
Juan Pablo Montoya will start the race from eighth place in the No.2 Hawk Performance Chevrolet having set a fastest time of 01:04.5141s and speaking following the session the Colombian commented by saying:
The Hawk Performance Chevrolet was very strong today and we almost made it to the Firestone Fast Six. We would have had it not been for a few wet areas on the course, especially on Turn 4 and 5. But we’ll take our starting position and attempt to work our way to the front in tomorrow’s race.