Honda drivers take five of top six starting positions
Honda-powered drivers and teams dominated Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying Saturday at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, with the manufacturer posting its best street-circuit qualifying performance since the return of multi-manufacturer competition to Indy car racing at the start of the 2012 season.
At the end of a frenetic three rounds of knockout qualifying, it was the Honda-powered Andretti Autosports duo of Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe claiming the front row and top two qualifying positions, with 2012 series champion Hunter-Reay posting a final-lap time that secured his first Long Beach pole, and the sixth pole of his career.
A total of nine Honda drivers made it through the first round of knockout qualifying to advance to the second round, with six of seven Honda teams all advancing at least one driver to Q2. The Honda-powered effort was equally strong in the second round, as Honda drivers claimed five of the final Q3 “Fast Six” positions. Both were road/street circuit qualifying records for Honda since manufacturer competition returned to Indy car racing in 2012.
With Honda-powered Takuma Sato – the defending winner at Long Beach – taking the pole two weeks ago at the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the manufacturer is now two-for-two in pole qualifying in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (#28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda) pole qualifier, first pole of 2014, second Honda pole in 2014; Hunter-Reay’s sixth career Indy car pole: "What a qualifying session! We’ve qualified on the front row so many times here, but this is the first time to come out on top [the pole]. It just comes down to this team giving me what I needed, when I needed it, and then finding a gap in traffic to get the lap in. It’s a good start for us, but tomorrow has its own challenges. We have a standing start [the first at Long Beach for IndyCars since 2008] and a long day at ‘The Beach’.