LONG POND, Penn. (July 6, 2013) – Marco Andretti continued his family’s legacy at Pocono Raceway by winning the pole for tomorrow’s 160-lap Pocono INDYCAR 400. His father and team owner, Michael Andretti, was the pole winner in 1986. In 1987, his grandfather, Mario Andretti, won the pole. It is the second pole of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season for the driver of the No. 25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet.
Andretti led a contingent of six Chevrolet IndyCar V6 drivers to the top-six qualifying positions today including an all-Andretti Autosport front row, in the second race of the season that will see the field roll to the green flag in rows of three cars. Defending Series Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was the second fastest qualifier in the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet, and James Hinchcliffe turned the third quickest time in the No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet.
Team Chevy drivers claiming the fourth through sixth qualifying positions were: Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet; Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan, No. 11 Sunoco “Turbo” KV Racing Technology Chevrolet and Series points leader Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.
A total of 12 Chevrolet IndyCar V6 drivers are qualified to start the second leg of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown. If a driver wins all three races, he or she will take home a $1 million bonus. Kanaan is the only driver in a position to win the big prize by virtue of winning the Indy 500. If a driver wins two of the three (the final leg of the Triple Crown is the season finale at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, California), they will earn $250,000
Post qualifying press conference transcript:
Marco Andretti, no. 25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet – pole winner
Talk about today’s qualifying run and especially going out so early and having to play the waiting game:
“Yeah, I mean obviously I always know my teammates are going to be strong. I got everything out of it so I knew that I was going to be pleased with the result regardless if we were on pole or not. In IndyCar racing now a days there is five guys that get it right so that is what I was waiting for. We lucked out today.”
You said yesterday that you didn’t think anybody was going to get up to 221 and you went out there and laid it down:
“I meant anybody else. Yeah, no it all came together. It was going to be all about balance and we really were focusing on every little detail in practice because we got a decent handle on the race car so we hope and we knew we had tonight’s session if we didn’t. So we focused on really studying everything to get everything to the last detail and we did.”
Talk about being on the pole at your hometown race:
“Yeah, it’s tremendous. I’ve taken a huge liking to this place as soon as I rolled off here in the initial test. I really think the Indy cars are built for this track and vice versa. I really do. This became my favorite track. I love Indianapolis, but the way this place races it’s so challenging. It’s so different end to end and even lap to lap that you really have to chase the tools in the car and that was on my own. There is going to be some traffic tomorrow and it’s going to be the one who gets it right.”
What does it takes to get it right?
“Honestly, I think there is going to be a little bit like Indianapolis right place at the right time. Timing your passes because it’s really easy to get suckered in to try to make something out of nothing because of the way the cars are towing. You really have to be smart. You really have to be more than alongside. I wouldn’t be comfortable just turning in right next to somebody in case you know. You can’t go two-wide through turn two so you really have to time your passes and right place at the right time. Hopefully we are on the better end of the luck.”
Did you get a chance to do any long runs yesterday?
“I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot by saying this, but I mean the race car yesterday was on rails. I could pass anybody as soon as I got up to them. Today we were struggling a bit in turn three, but I think that is the characteristic of the wind. I think relative to my competitors we are still strong. That is all we can really go for. It’s going to take more than that. We know that.”
You become the third Andretti to score a pole here at this track what is the significance to you?
“Yeah, it means a lot to me. This is the first place where I was able to, besides Milwaukee get a pole where they did. We have always run strong here as a family similar to Indianapolis. Tomorrow is the one we want. I think that would be just icing on the cake.”
There has been a lot of focus on Tony Kanaan winning the triple crown but if a driver wins two out of three they can win a $250,000 bonus what are your thoughts on that?
“My first goal is obviously to work on tomorrow. I really want to get this monkey off my back because I really feel the wins are going to start clicking off. I felt we gave a couple away in the last couple of races which is frustrating, but we still managed to except Milwaukee with the electronic issue we still managed to keep it somewhat up there. We definitely need to close the gap first and foremost on the points lead and hopefully we can take the $250,000 and the championship that would just be awesome.”
You have said over the last couple of days how much it would mean to you to get a win here. It’s almost been a perfect weekend here. Is there extra pressure now because you have got the pole and you have been the fastest in practices all weekend?
“Definitely because if you look at my worst finish I swept that weekend up until the race too. Tomorrow is the one that counts as they say. A lot is going to play out. It’s 400 miles and I think we are up to the task. It’s just that we need to execute.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, no. 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet – qualified second
“It does help. You know there is cooperation there for sure. It’s like ‘go ahead after you, no after you.’ So it will be a little bit of that, but that’s only for the first lap after that we get going and we get to racing. It’s definitely good this is Andretti’s backyard having Marco (Andretti) on pole. Andretti Autosport locking out the front row it’s pretty cool. Three-wide start here at Pocono will look pretty cool.”
There are a lot of points available over the next eight days. Just talk about how pivotal these next eight days are going to be in the championship run:
“Yeah, you are right absolutely. There are so many points. I mean you look at Toronto there is double points there. When you look at all the points on the table with pole, leading the most laps, laps led and then the three races we have coming up within a weeks’ time it’s a critical part of the racing season right now. We all know that. It’s tough you can only do what you can do. At Detroit for instance we finished second on race one. Then race two I was just cruising along having a good time and made a mistake by a couple of inches, clipped the right-front on a curbing that was sticking out and ended the day. We still salvaged some points, but it can happen that quickly especially on a street circuit. 400-miles here going into a double header at Toronto is probably I think the toughest week of the whole season.”
You guys share a whole lot of information when you are going through the practice thing. Now that you have qualified do you guys meet as a team to talk about the race at all or do you now go your own way from here on out?
“No, we meet as a team. Andretti Autosport is really open that way. We get together as a whole group of four cars. Each driver and engineer and we go over everything from every session and what we are going to do for the next session and what our big picture thinking is. What we need to do to win the race, what we need to do to challenge to win, what we need to do better in traffic, so we are constantly talking about as a group what we need to do better. Each driver likes different things in our race car. It’s like each person has a different character to them. You like things in a race car and that is where we go our own separate way a little bit. Usually it’s not by a whole lot.”
Two drivers crashed in turn one today what is happening down there? Is the car just getting loose?
“Yeah, it can be. (Alex) Tagliani crashed because he understeered up into the gray, hit the right-front and then hooked back in. (E.J.) Viso was for a different reason, he got loose early in the corner. So it was for two different reasons. This place is tricky in general. This place is tough it really is. It’s more thinking and you have to be so on top of the tools in the car, the weight jacker and the bars. We are running different settings in every different corner; it’s all over the place. As the wind shifts and changes and then you get into one car or two cars of traffic the place is just always changing. You really have to be on top of it. Turn one has a lot of banking and (turn) three has not much at all. You get two different feelings there.”
Are you shifting gears on the lap?
“Yeah, most of the time some guys qualify changing gears, some guys don’t. Yeah, when you are race running you are changing gears just because of the draft and everything and then back down in the corners to get the RMP’s coming out. It’s a busy lap around here. It’s definitely I think the busiest lap short of Milwaukee it’s the busiest lap that you have just because you are constantly moving everything around. Just trying to keep up with the changing balance of the car. Last week here we were really loose, we got the car figured out a little bit better now, but it’s still pretty loose.”
What are your thoughts on the upcoming schedule?
“I really like it when we are going and we have a weekend off here and there. I like it that way. I wouldn’t mind two weekends off. I’m doing the whole going from here to New York for the Turbo premiere, then Toronto, then to Los Angeles, so I won’t be back until the weekend anyway. I’m going to have one weekend off. It will be the same kind of as we just had last week.”
“Yeah, well carrying momentum is another art within itself. You might have the momentum, but I don’t think it just goes away if you have a couple of weekends off or a weekend off. We had that last year and we were able to carry it. It is tough you are right. If you are going week in and week out hitting everything on the mark and you have two weeks off it can be tough to carry it on, but you have to do it. You just have to reach in and get it done. I think our team definitely has the capability of doing that.”
James Hinchcliffe, no. 27 GoDaddy Andretti Autosport Chevrolet – qualified third
“Well, we have been battling understeer in turn one all week long and all through testing and everything. I told my engineer if we have to lift for understeer we are going to be slow. I went into turn one on the first lap and got really loose. So, I had a big moment and had to crack the throttle a little bit and it took everything I am made of to keep my foot in it for the rest of the run. Just frantically working on the tools either under the track and trying to keep it all together all things considered thrilled to be on the front row. Andretti Autosport 1-2-3 it is just incredible. Obviously feel back for E.J. (Viso) he was right up there as well. That is exactly the same kind of thing that happened to me just got a little bit loose and I was luckier I guess. Pocono, Andretti on the pole, Andretti Autosport locking out the front row it’s tough to write a better story than that. It’s going to be a colorful picture I think it’s going to look Skittles front row or something. It was a good run a huge credit to the boys.”
How important is mechanical grip at this oval compared to most of the other big ovals we go to?
“Paramount. It’s just so different. This place is tricky. It’s earned that name. That is not a marketing ploy the ‘Tricky Triangle’ that is not to sell t-shirts that’s an earned reputation. I think when you look at how flat turn three is mechanical grip is at an absolute premium. Trying to balance that set-up between the high banks of turn one and the flat nature of turn three is incredibly challenging. Add into that being in dirty air and losing a bunch of the downforce that you have any way it really is what is going to make or break I think a race car tomorrow.”
Tony Kanaan NO. 11 Sunco “Turbo” KV Racing Technology Sh-Racing Chevrolet – qualified fifth
How it was out there?
“It was okay. I mean obviously our first time here. I’m excited I’m extremely impressed with the amount of people that came to watch us today. I’ve always heard good things about this place. I’m excited. They don’t call it the ‘Tricky Triangle’ for nothing. We are going to have a lot of work to do tomorrow. I’m excited.”
How was it going into turn one? You are wide open you are going for the pole:
“Yeah, I was and then it didn’t stick. It’s amazing when I came here last week and I did my first 20 laps around this place I said ‘there is no way we are going to go flat into turn one.’ It just doesn’t make any sense. All of a sudden we did. It’s exciting. Obviously three different corners around this track, it’s definitely tricky. You are not going to have a good car in all of them. We will see what is going to happen.”
Marco Andretti has obviously had a lot of success here the last couple of weeks what kind of effort will it take to beat him?
“It’s a 400 mile race. I think the Andretti guys were strong through the entire season. If you look at their Indy 500 effort I wasn’t expecting anything less than that. Today I don’t think I had it for him for the pole. Maybe it was going to be outside the front row, but what’s it going to take this race is a 400 mile race. I don’t think you can pick a favorite yet. It’s a very difficult race track, we haven’t been here so obviously they did a great job putting three cars in the top three, but it’s a long race. I don’t know what it’s going to take. It’s a long race.”
You are starting in the second row what do you think about the start tomorrow going back to a three-wide format? “I think it’s part of this ‘Triple Crown’ thing. We only do it once a year, so I think being in a 400 mile race hopefully we will respect each other like we do in Indy because it’s a long race. I don’t see a problem. This straightaway it’s longer than Indy. So, I don’t see why not doing it. It’s definitely going to be different.”
Some drivers say that the track going through turn one that is narrows exiting turn one. What do you think about the beginning of the race and as the race continues on?
“We can’t get greedy. I think in the beginning of the race in the first lap we all know that only one car is going to go through that corner at a time. We just got to respect each other that is definitely the situation there. I think we can squeeze two cars into that especially on the first lap with the speeds that we are going to be doing. We are not going to be as fast as when we are going flat out around here. It’s going to be difficult, but that is what my boss tells me all the time that is why I get paid the big bucks. We are going to have to make it through.”
Team Chevy Racing