Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates start 10th, 11th at Alabama

Pagenaud's fastest lap was 1 minute, 8.8682 seconds,120.230 mph. Aleshin's was 1 minute, 8.8682 seconds,120.230 mph.

Simon Pagenaud posted the fastest lap of any driver during Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama qualifying Saturday, but unfortunately the Frenchman's blistering lap came in the first round of qualifying instead of the last round and he will start 10th.

His rookie teammate, Mikhail Aleshin, advanced out of the initial round of Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying for the first time in his career, and will start 11th at Barber Motorsports Park.

"Our qualifying result was not what we expected today," Pagenaud said. "The No. 77 car was very fast in practice and the first round of qualifying, and then we lost grip in the second round. You can only drive to the limit of what you have, and we just didn't have the lap time when we needed it today."

During round two, Pagenaud's fastest lap in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car was 1 minute, 8.8682 seconds,120.230 mph.

"When you start within the top-10 at Barber, it's always possible to win," Pagenaud said. "It will make the strategy a little bit difficult, but we have a strong race car. We'll move forward tomorrow and try our hardest to keep scoring big points."

In what was his third qualifying session in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Aleshin saw marked improvement in his performance on the Firestone red tires on the 15-turn, 2.38-mile road course. His best overall lap was 1:09.1708, 119.704 mph.

"After qualifying today, I'm happy to say that we're improving," Aleshin said. "I'm certainly feeling more comfortable on the Firestone red tires. One of my biggest challenges as a rookie has been learning how these tires respond because you really only get to practice on them during the qualifying sessions when pressure is high."

Prior to the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Aleshin had not made a rolling start since his days in karts as a teenager. He will make his second rolling start of the Verizon IndyCar Series season in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

"I wasn't ready for the rolling start in St. Petersburg, so my focus will be on not losing positions during the start," Aleshin said. "I'll need to be aggressive during the race to make sure we maximize our result tomorrow."

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Qualifying report
Tags alabama, mikhail aleshin, schmidt peterson motorsports, simon pagenaud