Series Las Vegas qualifying report

IndyCar Series press release

KANAAN WINS POLE AT LAS VEGAS; POWER, FRANCHITTI TO SHARE ROW #9

LAS VEGAS -- Neither Will Power nor Dario Franchitti will have a decided advantage Oct. 16 in the Las Vegas Indy 300 -- the marquee event in the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda.

Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology-Lotus
Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology-Lotus

Photo by: Bob Heathcote

In fact, they're starting next to each other -- in the uncustomary position of Row 9.

Tony Kanaan, the penultimate qualifier, posted a two-lap average of 222.078 mph on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval to earn his first PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season and 15th of his IZOD IndyCar Series career. He's the seventh different pole winner this season.

Five different teams are represented in the top 5, and eight in the top 10.

Ed Carpenter, the Kentucky Indy 300 winner, driving the No. 67 Dollar General car for Sarah Fisher Racing will be on Row 2 (highest starting position for the team) with Alex Tagliani in the No. 98 William Rast/Bowers & Wilkins car for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian/Sam Schmidt.

Dan Wheldon, who will split $5 million with Go Daddy INDYCAR Challenge sweepstakes winner Ann Babenco of New Jersey if he can win the race from the rear of the 34-car field, warmed up with a two-lap average of 218.410 mph. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders James Hinchcliffe, who leads JR Hildebrand by six points, will start one spot apart.

Verizon Team Penske's Power enters the 200-lap race 18 points behind Franchitti entering the season finale. Seventeenth ties Power's worst start of the season (Milwaukee).

Not including the two bonus points in play for leading the most laps, Franchitti wraps up his third consecutive series title with a top-three finish no matter Power's result. Power needs to win the race if Franchitti finishes fourth through seventh. Prospective bonus points come into play the further down the finishing order.

Also Oct. 14, Victor Carbone became the sixth different Firestone Indy Lights pole sitter this season by recording a two-lap average of 191.7773 mph on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval.

Carbone, driving the No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, had a previous best qualifying result of fourth at Edmonton and a best on an oval of sixth at Iowa Speedway in June.

He'll share the front row with two-time race winner Stefan Wilson in the 67-lap Las Vegas 100. Wilson, driving the No. 5 Team Citizenre car for Andretti Autosport was 0.0118 of a second behind (191.734 mph average).

Earlier today, Chevrolet gave an update on its 2012 IndyCar Series engine and held a formal availability with its announced teams. Below are selected quotes from the availability:

JIM CAMPBELL (U.S. Vice President for Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Chevrolet): "It's so great to be here, we are excited to be re-joining the (IZOD) IndyCar Series. It's exciting because racing has been part of our heritage and history all the way back to Louis Chevrolet. In our recent open-wheel racing history we have had a lot of success. We have looked at the engine rules laid out by Randy Bernard and his team, and they align well with our production side including bio-fuel and turbo-charged engines. What we learn on the engine development side in racing will help make our production engines better. It takes great teams to be successful, and we have three of them here today: Penske Racing, Andretti Autosport and Panther Racing. We can't wait to have all of these people here with us next year."

ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Team Penske): "Obviously this is a big moment for (INDYCAR). The opportunity to get Chevrolet back in our sport is so important. People have been asking who is going to get the engine first. We've put together a testing team with people from each of our teams so this is truly a team effort. With this group of team members and owners, we are fully committed to make this a success. This engine was a piece of paper in January, and it has run over 300 miles just this past week."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Owner, Andretti Autosport): "I have very fond memories of Chevrolet being behind me as a driver. It will be fun to work with Penske and Panther Racing. I can't wait to get out there. It has been very smooth so far."

JOHN BARNES (Team principal, Panther Racing): "We won 15 races and two (IZOD IndyCar Series) championships with Chevrolet, and we've missed them. We talked to all the other engine manufacturers when deciding what would be best for our team; but the high level of engineering with Chevrolet really stood out to us."

MARK KENT (Director, GM Racing): Back in May I said we were ready to fire up the engine for the first time. We did fire the engine up, and since then we've been working on building power and reliability. We have begun Dyno testing and in-person testing. We have purchased a new car from Dallara and had it painted quickly, which we completed before Honda did.

WILL POWER (Driver, Team Penske): It was awesome driving out of pit lane for the first time and feeling the turbo engine. The test went flawlessly, which shows you what kind of job Chevrolet and Ilmor have done. We will continually ramp it up and work on making the engine better. It will be a great year in 2012 having turbo engines back in the series.

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Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director, James Jakes has been checked and released from the Infield Care Center. He is cleared to drive.

JAMES JAKES (No. 18 Acorn Stairlifts): "Me and Alex (Lloyd) just went into Turn 1 and 2, drafting into one another. I was going into (Turn) 2 and something broke in the left corner, and at those speeds it moves you so far off the track. When I hit the wall, the impact on the fire was pretty instant, and it went all the way down the back of my suit, and I tried to stop a lot sooner but the brakes were gone, and I just had to wait until the car stopped and I had my seatbelt on and get out of there."

DALE COYNE (Owner, Dale Coyne Racing): "We've got the back up, but it's in bits and pieces, so we'll see how bad this one is and get something up on there in the next day."

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PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

- This is Tony Kanaan's first pole of 2011 and the 15th pole of his Indy car career. It is Kanaan's first pole since June 2008 at Richmond International Raceway, a span of 59 races between pole positions.

- Oriol Servia, Newman/Haas Racing, will start second. It his third-front row start of the season. He also started in the front row at Indianapolis and New Hampshire.

- Ed Carpenter qualified third, his best qualifying effort of 2011. His previous best qualifying effort was fourth at Kentucky.

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, PEAK Performance Pole Award): "It feels awesome. It has been awhile. I guess I've got to do more Ironmans on my weekends off. I'm extremely happy. I can't thank the GEICO-KV guys enough. We had such an awful race at Kentucky that we needed to turn it around. They went back to the shop to massage that car as much as they could and it paid off."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "We got a two today so hopefully we get a one tomorrow. The Telemundo car was awesome. We were up there in every session and it just shows the car was good. Front row is the best place to start for a race as crazy as this one is going to be so I am very happy with our position and I think we have a great shot at it (win) on Sunday."

ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "It felt good out there. I was really confident in our race car and qualifying car yesterday in practice, but we had a lot of issues in practice today and really didn't have a good idea of where we were going to be in qualifying. I almost wondered if we'd even be top ten after the first practice session today. I feel pretty good now knowing that the car still does have speed because I was worried we were maybe losing a little speed, but it came back and we ran about what we thought we could run, so that's good."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "We're in the top half of the grid which is good. It was a weird qualifying session; the field is pretty mixed up. I was hoping we could stay in the top 10 but we're in the seventh row so were still in the hunt. Since we've been here our car has felt better in traffic than it has by ourselves. We're going to put our heads together and make sure we bolt on the best race set up that we've got. We proved in Kentucky that we can race our way through even some of the top guys. It's going to be about having a problem-free race, stay out of trouble, make smart decisions and a lot of its going to be about being in the right place at the right time. I'm reasonably happy with where we are."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Bogata Es Mundial Conquest Racing): "I am very satisfied with the positive progress we've show this weekend. We came incredible positive willing to finish this year the right way and I believe we are doing the right way to make this happen. 20th is our best qualifying so far on ovals and that helps our cause quite a bit, there's still some work to do but I'm definitely looking forward to Sunday's race."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 17 Air Ride Pallet/AFS/SSM Racing): "We thought it was a solid run and from where we were in practice to the changes to how the car performed, we made the right steps and maximized our package. That's the quickest we've run in qualifying set-up simulations. From that standpoint, I think we can be pleased. We out-qualified three Ganassi cars and two Penskes, and we're still 12th on the grid. It really just shows how competitive it is. If you just look at the lap times compared to the miles-per-hour, every hundredth of a second would have moved us up a position. We were right there. We were battling for the top 10 in qualifying, but we just didn't have quite enough. We're pretty confident. If we can have a race like Kentucky, we'll come away from here pretty happy."

DAN WHELDON (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/William Rast SSM-BHA Curb Agajanian): "We don't understand why we're so far off the pace. Quite frankly, with the pace were at, we can't stay up in the draft. There's something we're missing. The team is working hard, but unfortunately Bowers & Wilkins at Magnolia/ William Rast and Curb-Big Machine Records car is not very quick right now."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "My lap, my weekend, I don't know what to tell you. From the moment my car rolled off the truck it's been slow. If there's any silver lining it's the fact that Will's back there with me. Will and I were joking that you couldn't have scripted it better. I think both the Target and Penske teams are very capable of getting us from the back to the front. It's definitely not ideal starting this far back, but we will do our best to move to the front."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske): "The IZOD car felt good during qualifying. It was pretty fast, and really there were just four cars faster than us. Our car is strong in race trim and I have been able to run well in traffic and pretty much in any lane so things look pretty good for Sunday. The race is going to be great for the fans and quite intense for the drivers."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus):"First of all congratulations to Tony, it's great to see the speed from his pole run. I think in general we improved from the last race and are back on the pace, but we still need a little more speed for my car. As close as everyone is here we will have very tight racing and hopefully, we can have a strong result."

E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "Well here we go the last race of the season. Unfortunately I will start at the back of the grid because we had to do a engine change which was considered unapproved under the rules. I am not really concerned where we start. We have done this many times in the past, coming from the back to the front of the field. It is actually very exciting. I think we have one of those good race cars like we have had in the past on the mile and a half ovals. Hopefully, we can bring home a great result so we can close the season on a good note. I also, want to congratulate my teammate Tony Kanaan for taking the pole for this race."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "Speed means so much at this track and we're still just trying to get more out of the Verizon car. That's definitely not the result we wanted out of qualifying but we know that this is going to be a pack race and hopefully we can use that to our advantage and move forward in the race on Sunday. We need to win and we have some time between now and then to make sure we are getting the most out of the car."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 57 Angie's List/Sarah Fisher Racing): "We we're great on set-up, so we don't really know what happened. It's a bit of a weak qualifying effort to say the least. But I'm really happy, the Angie's List crew did a great job in practice today…we were P.8, so we've got a great racecar and that's what we've got to look at. I'm so happy for the Dollar General car and Ed qualifying right up front. It's funny because he had problems in practice too and didn't seem very confident for qualifying and now we've swapped around. We're going to go back and take a look over everything. Everything felt fine, and I had good laps. We just didn't have the speed."

JAY HOWARD (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing): "There's 34 drivers out here and we all want to be fast so it's tough to get to the front.The balance of the car is really good, I can put it any place I want it, we're just trying to be faster. We struggled in qualifying at Texas but had a really good race car and hopefully we'll be able to repeat that on Sunday for our partners at Service Central, R66T and Cyrca."

PIPPA MANN (No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing): "We've got a good handling car and I think it will be the same on Race Day, but we're still looking for some speed," Mann reported. "I got to run a good bit in traffic today during practice and the car feels good. Sunday is going to be a long, hot day but it could be good for us if we stay focused and work hard to make our way through the field."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): 'The run was what we had but it will matter very little here where we start. The further ahead the better--the less work you have to do-- but it's not going to matter very much. The track reminds me of a faster, easier Texas or Chicago. It will definitely be an exciting race.'

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske): "We ran the speed that we had in the Guidepoint Systems car during qualifying. Certainly we didn't do as well as we would have liked, but the good news is we have a good race car so that is what we are going to concentrate on and go for the best possible result on Sunday."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "We got a little bit of a bad draw going early, so we didn't know what to expect in qualifying. It (the speed) is a little slower than we thought. We thought maybe a mid-221 at least. I know that our guys have built a great race car and will be ready for the battle on Sunday. This race will be a strong showing for Andretti Autosport. I am anxious for the race. It should be a good run for the Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop car. This is going to be less of a handling track as Texas. Thus, that means the cars with not the best balance will be able to hang in the pack. That will mean some very intense racing. It should a wild one."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Team Grime Boss): "The track temperature was pretty much the same as in practice. Not a bad run. It is not as quick as practice but that was with a tow (draft). I didn't get as much as I wanted on the first lap, but my second lap seemed to be pretty good. I was able to work with my tools better on the second one. It will be a crazy race on Sunday."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy: "Overall, I think our team is pretty good. I was surprised by the speed in qualifying. I thought we would be a little faster. I wasn't able to get up to speed as fast as I would have liked. I did what I wanted to do with my bars and weight jacker as in practice. I went a little quicker in second lap and that is good. This will be a pack race on Sunday. So it is nice to qualify towards the front of the field, I'm not sure that will be a big factor for the race. If you have a fast car in the race, I think you will move to the front pretty quickly."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Dr Pepper Ten): "Overall the Dr Pepper TEN car is strong and I think we'll be a contender Sunday. We'll be good in traffic, but everyone is going to be good in traffic - that's why it's going to be a great race for the fans."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir & NovoLog FlexPen): "It's a disappointing qualifying run for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. We were expecting a little more speed out of the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car. We have a really good race car; we can run in traffic and run in a pack. Race day is going to be about surviving and shooting for a top-10 finish."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "It's definitely a frustrating qualifying result for the Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing. We need to figure out how we lost a mile and half from our practice speed; the No. 38 Service Central car is really good, I just don't know where the time went. The Service Central guys have been working really hard this weekend and all season, so I know we'll have a good race car on Sunday."

SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

- This is Victor Carbone's first Sunoco Pole Award in Firestone Indy Lights. His previous best start was fourth at Edmonton-1.

- Carbone is the sixth different driver to win a pole position in Firestone Indy Lights this season.

- Stefan Wilson qualified second. It is his third front row start of 2011 and his second- straight front-row start after winning the pole at Kentucky.

- Esteban Guerrieri qualified third. Guerrieri qualified in the top-five for every race this season.

- Rusty Mitchell qualified fourth, his best qualifying performance in Firestone Indy Lights.

- Gustavo Yacaman qualified fifth, his fifth top-five qualifying effort in 2011.

SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

VICTOR CARBONE (No. 3 Nevoni/Sam Schmidt Motorsport, Sunoco Pole Award winner): "It was really close. I didn't even look at the time. I just found out it was one-tenth of a second. I just want to thank the guys, the entire team. They did an amazing job. Hopefully we'll have a good race and drive smart the whole way.

STEFAN WILSON (No. 5 Team Citizenre, qualified second): "The Citizenre car was perfect. I had no problems. I felt I had a really good qualifying run. I thought I did everything right. We ran identical lap times of the first lap. I looked down and I knew what time he had done on the first lap. When I saw what time I had done, I knew it was going to be close. I had to make sure I didn't drop off on the second lap. Unfortunately we ended up with a one-hundredth difference between me and pole. It's kind of disappointing, but I have to thank all of the Andretti Autosport guys for their hard work. Team Citizenre will be ready to go for the win on Sunday."

SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE

9:45 a.m. - Las Vegas 100 (67 laps/100 miles)

Noon - Las Vegas Indy 300 pre-race

3:45 p.m. - Las Vegas Indy 300 (200 laps/300 miles), ABC (Live)

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Series INDYCAR
Tags carpenter, franchitti, honda, kanaan, power, servia