Birmingham: Series qualifying report

POWER TAKES PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE AWARD FOR BARBER RACE BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Saturday, April 10, 2010) - IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power won his second consecutive PEAK Performance Pole Award with a quick lap of 1 minute, 10.1356...

POWER TAKES PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE AWARD FOR BARBER RACE

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Saturday, April 10, 2010) - IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power won his second consecutive PEAK Performance Pole Award with a quick lap of 1 minute, 10.1356 seconds in qualifications for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union on April 11 at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, will attempt to be the first in IZOD IndyCar Series history to win the first three races of the season (and tie Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Kenny Brack in winning three in a row overall).

Mike Conway will make his first front-row start, posting a quick lap of 1:10.6501 in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car. His previous best was sixth in back-to-back races at Watkins Glen and Toronto in '09.

Power's teammate, Helio Castroneves, will share Row 2 with Marco Andretti, who will make his second consecutive top-six start in the No. 26 Team Venom Energy car for Andretti Autosport. Castroneves, also was making his second consecutive Firestone Fast Six appearance, is three shy of 100 top-five starts in the series.

Scott Dixon, who extended his series record for top-10 starts to 35, will be on Row 3 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. He'll be joined by rookie Takuma Sato, who earned his highest start of the season in the No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology car.

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

* This is Will Power's second consecutive PEAK Performance Pole Award and the fourth of his IZOD IndyCar Series career. He has been in all three Firestone Fast Six sessions this season.

* Mike Conway qualified on the front row for the first time in his IZOD IndyCar Series career. His previous best was sixth at Infineon last season.

* Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti make their second consecutive appearances in the Firestone Fast Six this season.

* Scott Dixon extended his record of Top 10 starts to 35.

* Takuma Sato's made his first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six.

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, PEAK Performance Pole Award): "It was a good run today. I have to thank Verizon Team Penske team for the second pole of the season. I just have to keep executing in the races. If we can stay up front and win tomorrow that would be great, but if we aren't in the position to do that, I just can't make mistakes. We knew we needed to qualify in the front because it is difficult to get past anyone. We are going to rely on strategy tomorrow with the tires. We expect a good crowd and hopefully a good race. The tires have been fantastic and I am looking forward to using them in the race. I think three wins a row is possible, but pretty tough to do. Regardless, we are heading in the right direction."

MIKE CONWAY (No .24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, qualified second): "This is my career best qualifying position, so I am excited about where we are starting. I owe a big thank you to the team who has spent a lot of time getting the car ready for this weekend. They are doing a great job, but we still have some work to do tonight before the race tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified third): "It's always important to qualify upfront, no matter what place. But certainly here it seems to be a very challenging place. Running behind the other guys, you can see the fast corners that we have here which is pretty exciting. But when you're behind the guy, it's kind of like an oval. It's turning there, and it makes it a little bit difficult to hold on but it's going to be the same for everyone. But the strategy seems to be it's going to be a lot actually different than some of the other races. The fuel window here seems to be huge. So you might see a lot of guys tomorrow trying different things. But certainly today was a great day for Team Penske. We'll continue doing very, very well. But for the No. 3 guys, we are stepping up every race, so hopefully tomorrow will be a good day for us."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, qualified fourth): "I think we made kind of the right decisions for each compound of tires and stuff like that. Because there is a bit of a balance change for us, so really it's just about hitting it right. You've got to do everything right. Nowadays it's so close even to make it to the top six. Fortunately, we were able to do that. We were looking good in the second qualifying, but we kind of ran out of Reds there in the end, and that was it."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology, qualified fifth): "First of all, it's a fantastic day for me and the team to go through the Q3 and Firestone Top Six. We're very pleased about it. It was the first time I was in an IndyCar was in February, and to come back here with a more comfortable and understanding the car better and the circuit. So yesterday the car improved every session, which was very good, and very good progress day. It was a bit difficult without any practice to qualify straight in, but difficult for everybody. So it's kind of a question of how much you can put in different set--ups from yesterday. It was a good feeling. Just getting more confident, and more comfortable. And finally made into Q 3 which was great. Obviously, then I didn't know obviously what to do in terms of the tires, so we used the red. And in the end, to be six is a great day for me. And I'm really looking forward to starting in the third row tomorrow."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: (No. 10 Suave, qualified seventh): "We're disappointed obviously not to get in the fast 6. I think we're still missing just a little something. But to get into the fast 6 this time around was literally a few thousandths of a second. We just have a little more work to do in order to be were we want to be for the race tomorrow."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, qualified eighth): "We took a risk and made a change to the 7-Eleven car for our last run, and it didn't work like we were hoping. If it had worked, we'd be standing here laughing but instead we're wondering why we did what we did. But, it is what it is. We are a lot better than people expected us to be and the field is very, very close. We have one car in the top five and that is great for the team."

E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA-Jet Aviation-KV Racing Technology, qualified 10th): "Today was a big improvement for the KV Racing team. A top-10 in qualifying is not a bad recovery after the tough day we had in practice yesterday. I have to say the grid in the IZOD IndyCar Series is so competitive that just one tenth of a second is worth four or five places. We still need to do some work on the car, but after today I am confident we can make some changes that will help in the race. It is going to be a long race and it will be difficult to overtake. I think the most important thing will be to not make any mistakes and just stay on the track."

JUSTIN WILSON, No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR, qualified 11th): "The Charter team worked hard to try and get into the Firestone Fast Six today, but we missed it by a tenth of a second. We had a good run on the Firestone Primary (black-sidewall) tires, but when we bolted on the Firestone Alternate (red-sidewall) tires we didn't quite have the balance that we wanted. It will be tough to pass tomorrow, but the crew will make changes today and we will try to work our way to the front in the race. My teammate Mike Conway qualified second and I'm really happy for him."

MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology, qualified 12th): "The KV Racing Technology engineers came up with a change that really improved the car from yesterday to today. That made all the difference in qualifying. I think we could have done a little better, but overall it was a good qualifying, my best of the season. We just have to keep working on the car and improve it some more for the race."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, qualified 14th): "We've been playing a little bit of catch-up since the first session yesterday and we just didn't have the balance right in the IZOD car. I just wasn't happy with the car. It wasn't a car I could qualify well with. We've been on the outside looking in at this track and we haven't been able to shake it yet."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic, qualified 17th): "It was a shame to have the yellow flag come out when it did. I only had one lap with red tires to put my lap time together to get into the top six to get to the next round. I ended up not having enough speed and needed a couple tenths (of a second) more to be in the top-six. For sure we had more potential. I'm so disappointed we weren't able to show it. At one point on my lap, I was up four-tenths of a second on my best time but I made a small mistake in Turn 8. It's a shame we weren't able to do another lap. There was only one lap to try to make a better time and my front tires weren't at their maximum performance yet. They would have been better on the next lap but there was only time to do one lap. Strategy will be very important because of where we are starting the race. Hopefully the timing of a yellow will help us gain a lot of positions. We have the speed so if we can get up front, we can keep the Formula Dream / Panasonic car there. We need our strategy to work out and have some luck."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP Luczo Dragon, qualified 18th): "The times looked promising on the black tires for the first part of the qualifying session. Unfortunately, we couldn't improve our times on the red tires as we expected. We need to understand why we couldn't find more speed and come up with a strategy to come from behind as we have in the first two races."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com, qualified 19th): "It was a challenging qualifying run for the GoDaddy car. We were unable to use our second set of tires due to the full course yellow. But, anything can happen during the race tomorrow and we'll see what we can do."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing, qualified 20th): "We didn't come in here thinking we would have the difficulties that we've had. We seem to get it right for the race but qualifying—it's not helping right now. We always have to risk too much on strategy or be smarter than everybody else which is hard to do sometimes. We've got to get qualifying down. I am as much a part of that if not vital for that. The car was much better from yesterday to today, we picked up a lot of time, not only with the car but it had to do with weather and tires. What matters is that we are faster and the gap is less to the leaders. We'll think about it and again do a smart aggressive race strategy, anyway this is A.J.'s way—smart and aggressive, so I bet we're going to go for that. As a team, we need to and I mean everybody including me, we need to get better in qualifying, and once we do that, we'll be in much better shape for the race."

SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE: (all times local):
8:40-9:10 a.m. IZOD IndyCar Series warmup 2:45 p.m.Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union (90 laps) LIVE (Versus)

***

The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues April 11 with the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsports Park. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Grand Prix of Alabama April 11 at Barber Motorsports Park. The race will air live on indycar.com.

-source: irl

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Takuma Sato , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway , Will Power , A.J. Foyt
Teams Andretti Autosport , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology