Series qualifying report and notes

Long Beach

POWER WINS THIRD-STRAIGHT PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE AWARD

Will Power will take his third consecutive PEAK Performance Pole Award of the young IZOD IndyCar Series season and third in a row on the Long Beach street circuit into the 37th edition of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 17.

Will Power, Team Penske
Will Power, Team Penske

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia

The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car recorded a quick lap of 1 minute, 9.0649 seconds with 2:30 left in the Firestone Fast Six to bump Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2010 race winner, who set the fast time of 1:09.1409 a lap earlier in the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car.

"That was definitely a tough one," said Power, who's finished second and third the past two years in the 85-lap race. "I know how fast Hunter Reay is around here from the race last year. He's bloody hard to beat. It's going to be a tough race, but qualifying the way we did I think we put ourselves in the best possible position."

Seven different teams are represented in the first five rows, which will keep the pressure on Power from the green flag.

Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport teammate Mike Conway, driving the No. 27 Window World Cares car, will share Row 2 with Oriol Servia in the No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing car. It was the second Firestone Fast Six appearance this season for Conway, who started 16th at Long Beach last April, and Servia.

Also on April 16, Esteban Guerrieri in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car recorded a quick lap of 1:14.0537 late in the 60-minute session to earn the Sunoco Pole Award for the 45-lap Firestone Indy Lights race on the Long Beach street circuit.

Peter Dempsey, driving the No. 36 Pulse/02 Racing car, also will start on the front row. It was the second pole victory for Guerrieri.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

IZOD IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay was recently announced as the newest member of LIVESTRONG's Global Envoy program. As a LIVESTRONG Global Envoy, Hunter-Reay serves as a committed cancer advocate who connects with constituents and demonstrates extraordinary leadership in the global fight against cancer. Hunter-Reay gives a voice to the diagnosed who suffer in silence. He takes a stand against cultural stigma attached to cancer and helps to spur grassroots mobilization.

LIVESTRONG is the brand of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, created in 1997 by the cancer survivor and champion cyclist to serve people living with cancer and empower communities to take action. Hunter-Reay joins a distinguished ensemble of cancer crusaders who have been invited to participate in the LIVESTRONG Global Envoy program. His fellow Envoy's include: Lillian Dube, Ryan Dungey, Carly Fiorina, Evan Handler, Dhani Jones, Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired, Lorena Rojas, Eric Shanteau, Graham Tatters, Kenechi Udeze and Ethan Zohn

Ryan Hunter-Reay
Ryan Hunter-Reay

Photo by: Bob Heathcote

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "It is such an amazing honor to be selected as a Global Envoy for LIVESTRONG. My mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in 2008 and the horrifying fight she waged made a huge impact on my life in so many ways. I was there with her every moment I wasn't on the race track and the LIVESTRONG organization of counselors and cancer survivors were a constant guiding light, which gave us comfort in our darkest hours. It was during this time that I realized LIVESTRONG is so much more than a charity. My mother ultimately lost her fight against cancer in November of 2009 however her tenacity, compassion, and fight lives on through me and today I have an amazing opportunity to help make a difference in her honor. One of the cornerstones of my message as a Global Envoy for LIVESTRONG will be early detection and awareness. I have been a loyal supporter of LIVESTRONG for just over 7 years now, and wearing the iconic LIVESTRONG yellow band reminds me, and others, on a daily basis of the 28 million individuals fighting cancer. As an IndyCar driver my car number will be the No.# 28 in recognition of those 28 million people. I can't emphasize how proud I am to represent one of the greatest humanitarian and influential organizations in the world".

Driver Townsend Bell was in the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins pit Friday with a team headset on listening to the communications between the Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) team members and driver Alex Tagliani. Bell, who lives in nearby Santa Monica, Calif., will be Tagliani's SSM teammate in May for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race as driver of the No. 99 Herbalife Dallara/Honda/Firestone car in May. He will be in the Tagliani's pits today and race day.

TOWNSEND BELL: "I'm just getting a feel of faces and names and what the dynamics are for May. I'm also just trying to listen in a little bit to see what Alex' feedback is like with his engineer in hopes that gives us a little head start working together and understanding what their dealing with, although this (LBGP) is an entirely different type of track. It's interesting just to observe, and you're always trying to learn something."

When the green flag falls on Sunday's Firestone Indy Lights race, there will be a very excited father standing in the pits. Derek Daly, from Noblesville, Ind., will be watching his son, Conor Daly, race for the first time during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. As a driver, Derek Daly raced at Long Beach both in Formula 1 and in IndyCar, from 1978 to 1984 and won the Toyota Pro Celebrity race in 2000.

"My love of America started with Long Beach in 1987 when I came to race in Formula One," said the elder Daly, a native of Ireland. "In 1984 it became an Indy Car race, and I started on the front row with Mario. The race poster the following year was me leading Mario Andretti into turn one on the final warm up lap. I always thought that Long Beach on race weekend is what the rest of the world imagines southern California to be every day - fun, sun and smiles. To see my son compete on the same streets with the same enthusiasm is a real kick for me."

Bryan Herta Autosport announces sponsor lineup for Indy: Car No. 98 has been in Victory Circle twice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - both times associated with the Agajanian family. Dan Wheldon, the 2005 Indianapolis 500 champion, hopes to make it three.

The No. 98 entry of Bryan Herta Autosport for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 was unveiled at the IZOD IndyCar Series Fan Village that's part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Globally-recognized fashion brand William Rast and record labels Curb and Big Machine will be the primary sponsors.

My love of America started with Long Beach in 1987 when I came to race in Formula One.

Derek Daly

"A couple of weeks ago we confirmed that Dan Wheldon - a good friend, former teammate and Indy 500 winner - would be driving our car at Indianapolis this year," said Herta, who formed BHA with race engineer Steve Newey in 2009. "We made that announcement in Dan's hometown of St. Petersburg, Fla., and here at my home race and William Rast's back yard we wanted to unveil our partnership lineup.

"We are obviously thrilled to have William Rast back with us at Indianapolis for the second year in a row, and we are excited about our new involvement with Curb/Big Machine - record labels for some of country music's biggest stars. We are equally excited about our new collaboration with Mike Curb, Cary Agajanian and Scott Borchetta, and to be associated with such highly respected names in and outside of racing."

The No. 98 car won the Indy 500 in 1952, when 22-year-old Troy Ruttman became the youngest winner of the race in the Agajanian Kuzma/Offy, and 1963 when Parnelli Jones triumphed in the Agajanian Willard Battery Watson/Offy (aka the "Ol' Calhoun" Watson roadster).

"Curb Agajanian is excited to join with Bryan Herta Autosport and Big Machine to be a part of Dan Wheldon's running for his second victory at the Indianapolis 500," said Curb, a former Lt. Governor of California. "It would be great to see the Agajanian name back in Victory Circle at the Brickyard and Dan is certainly capable of making that happen."

A replica of the No. 98 William Rast-Curb/Big Machine car will be on display from May 27-Oct. 23 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, Calif., as part of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration. Reagan was the track announcer at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines in the 1930s.

Fans can bid on Hunter-Reay's helmet: Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2010 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach winner, is wearing a LIVESTRONG design helmet this weekend that will be auctioned along with a limited-edition print by motorsports artist Randy Owens on eBay.

All proceeds go to LIVERSTRONG. Hunter-Reay, a former resident of Dana Point, Calif., is a LIVESTRONG Global Envoy.

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

. Esteban Guerrieri claimed his second Sunoco Pole Award of 2011. He also won the pole at St. Petersburg.

. Guerrieri has qualified on the front row in each of the his three starts in the series.

. Guerrieri's lap time of 1:13.6957 is a Firestone Indy Lights event qualifying record.

. Peter Dempsey qualified second. It is his best start in Firestone Indy Lights. His previous-best start was fifth at St. Petersburg.

. Josef Newgarden qualified third, matching his best start in Firestone Indy Lights.

. Anders Krohn qualified fifth, matching his best start in Firestone Indy Lights.

. Juan Pablo Garcia qualified ninth, his best start in Firestone Indy Lights.

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Sunoco Pole Award): "I am really enjoying being on the pole here at Long Beach considering what happened at Barber. I couldn't finish the race there, so turning around and getting the pole is a great accomplishment. Our car is very quick this weekend. I like this track and I feel comfortable on it. We were a bit slow in the beginning because we started to pick up understeer and I thought if I pushed harder that it would eliminate that, but it just made the understeer worse. The team put on the second set of Firestone tires and we made some slight changes to the car. I was able to go back out and in the heat of the moment get my fastest lap and claim the pole. It was a huge team effort today and I think we have a good chance to win from the pole tomorrow."

I like this track and I feel comfortable on it.

Esteban Guerrieri

PETER DEMPSEY (No. 36 Pulse/O2 Racing, qualified second): "I thought it went really well today. We knew we were going to use a set of new tires before the session started today so we decided to sit out a little bit. The session was longer this weekend so we sat in pit lane and then went out and got a good base run on my old tires. We put on a new set of Firestone tires and then had a quick lap and were placed on the pole. Josef Newgarden caught me in the middle of the session so I went back out on my last set of Firestones and held the pole for the most of the remaining session. Esteban Guerrieri took over the pole at the very end. My team did a great job and I am very pleased with qualifying on the front row for the first time this year. Having the #36 Pulse/O2 Racing car on the front row is a great accomplishment for the team and this will help us on the race start tomorrow."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 11 RoboPong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified third): "That second set (of tires), we just got three laps in a row, and it just bit us. I just got overzealous on the last set. I couldn't get the time out of the last set. With the nature of this track, it's very difficult to set a quick lap. I mean you really have to be on it. In doing that, you put yourself at risk every lap. It's a shame we didn't get the pole again today, but one of these days we're going to get it."

CONOR DALY (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM, qualified fourth): "The track is not slippery, it's people just aren't thinking out there. It's tough to find a lap on a street course, and when other competitors blatantly just slow down in front of you and then goes, it's the most annoying thing in qualifying. Unfortunately, there were a lot of people out there doing that. At the end, again, we were at the wrong place at the wrong time. I have to figure out something to put me in the right place. The car is fast, we just can't seem to find the gaps in qualifying."

ANDERS KROHN (No. 9 Liberty Engineering Racing Special, qualified fifth): " I have to be pleased. Every session we make quantum leaps, getting better and better. We knew we didn't have the speed today for the extra tenths, but starting P5 is a great position for the race. So I'm good with this, the effort of the crew, the preparation on the car....I love that we keep getting stronger. I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow. This is an incredible field of drivers. We are all so close, I'm sure it will be a great show for the fans."

STEFAN WILSON (No. 5 Andretti Autosport, qualified sixth): "It was pretty hectic out there. I ended up in P6, but that's not where we deserved to be. We were quick enough in practice and through qualifying, but we found ourselves in traffic. The time evaporated and we didn't have time to get a quick lap in. It's just a shame for the Andretti Autosport guys. Tomorrow's cooler, overcast weather should help us a bit. We'll work hard overnight and see how we do tomorrow."

JAMES WINSLOW (No. 26 Andretti Autosport, qualified 10th): "We were running really well. I was hearing 'P2, P3' on the radio and I hadn't got a quick lap in yet. The grip level was coming up on the track so quickly. I tried taking a high gear for one of the corners, and I didn't estimate how much under steer I was going to get. I drifted a bit, hit some marbles then hit the wall; very unfortunate. The car's good. We had potential for the front row. It's disappointing, but we'll have to make up for it tomorrow."

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

. Will Power claimed his third pole of 2011 and the 18th pole of his Indy car career. It is his third consecutive pole to start the season after he claimed the PEAK Performance Pole Award at St. Petersburg and Barber

. This is Will Power's third consecutive pole at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

. Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified second. He also qualified second in 2010, when he won the race.

. Mike Conway qualified third, it is his best start at Long Beach. His previous best start was 16th.

You know, it's going to be a tough day tomorrow, but qualifying today I think we put ourselves in the best possible position.

Will Power

. James Hinchcliffe was the highest qualified Sunoco Rookie of the Year Candidate qualifying 11th.

. Neither car from Target Chip Ganassi Racing made the Firestone Fast Six as Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon qualified seventh and eighth. The last time neither car qualified for Firestone Fast Six was here in Long Beach in 2010.

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, PEAK Performance Pole Award): "That was definitely a tough one. I think Ryan (Hunter-Reay) had me there right until the end. He had a left going that was pretty quick. I think he might have blown the last sector. But we worked very hard for that. I know how fast Hunter‑Reay is around here from the race last year. He's bloody hard to beat. You know, it's going to be a tough day tomorrow, but qualifying today I think we put ourselves in the best possible position."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda, qualified second): "It's good to be back in Long Beach. Obviously, I like this place. Pretty disappointed about the session with Will getting by by eight hundredths of a second. Kind of seems to tip his way lately. He's the man right now. But the best thing is it's a repeat of last year; we're starting second, and we won from there last year, so hopefully we can repeat. The guys can a great job preparing the cars. We've come with a little bit different of a car this year, developed it, and it's worked for us. It's been really good, and happy to see Mike up here, too. So things are heading in the right direction."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Window World Cares, qualified third): "I'm pretty happy, considering the last couple days have been difficult trying to get the car dialed in. It just seemed to come together in qualifying and pretty happy to be in the top three. Kind of wasn't expected coming into it, but it was a good job by the team over the last couple of days keeping their heads up and pushing hard all the time."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo/Newman Haas Racing, qualified fourth): "Everybody is pushing really hard. It's great, because I'm coming back stronger than ever and the team is in the same place. We're just pushing really hard, and every weekend you see how competitive it is out there. You blink one session, you're 15th. Briscoe himself, he was kind of the man to beat all weekend, and he's 12th. It just shows you have to keep pushing, and this morning that's what I was doing in practice, and I touched the wall, and quite hard, and the mechanics just were able to fix the car just like ‑‑ I left walking towards qualifying and they were still working on the car fixing it but I had no doubt that the car was going to be perfect. They're just great. They've been great at it for 20 years, and the car was perfect. Third row last weekend, second row this weekend, and just very happy that we keep moving forward."

Oriol Servia, Newman/Haas Racing
Oriol Servia, Newman/Haas Racing

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, qualified fifth): "It was a very close qualifying session. I knew on my quickest lap I gave up some time in the turns so if I could fix that we would be right there and unfortunately I wasn't able to pull off the pole position. I want to thank my team and engineers because we made some changes before the second session that really helped me. Hopefully we can make a few more changes tonight and have a good race tomorrow. I was loose in the last qualifying group so if we can work that out, I can make it closer to P1 tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA of Southern California, qualified sixth): "It's been incredible. I have to say if you were to tell me today I would be here, I'd say, tell me another joke. It was certainly very tough. I have to thank my ‑‑ well, first of all, the AAA car has been actually difficult. We last raced in Barber where we were hitting from all over the place. But today to be in the top six is very nice. My engineer did an incredible job. That guy, I told him, go have the rest of the afternoon off, just have a piqa colada, relax in the hot tub, because whatever you did, the second qualifying to put me in the top six, I don't know, but it worked."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified seventh): "We actually made the Target car a lot better today. It was a little too oversteery and I only got about 95 percent out of it. It was a little bit me and a little bit the car today as to why we didn't qualify better so hopefully we can make up for that tomorrow."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified eighth): "I was on my fastest lap and Power had already done his time and slowed down in front of me. We were going to be around two tenths up on our previous best time so its really unfortunate for the Target team today."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified ninth): "The track is good. Obviously, the Firestone reds are quite grippy, so the lap times jumped up a bunch. The Bowers & Wilkins car is good. We were in the hunt pretty much all weekend long. We just had a little balance issue going on the second reds and not even a tenth would have put us in the Fast 6. It's a bummer. I think we have a car to compete tomorrow and to try and get on the podium. We'll just have to execute everything, stay out of trouble in Turn 1, and survive all the attrition and we should be in greats shape."

TONY KANAAN (No. No. 82 GEICO - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, qualified 10th:

"It is a very tight field, so it was a very exciting qualifying. We got held up on our fastest lap so that cost a tenth which would have put us in the top-eight. From tenth to eighth is really not a big deal. I am excited for the race. I think it is going to be a great race. It is also nice to see all the fans showing up as usually here in Long Beach. Let's see what is going to happen tomorrow.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "Maybe we spoiled ourselves a little last week by getting inside top top-10. When I think of the fact that it's my first time in an Indy car on a street course and the troubles we had yesterday, I guess we can be too upset but I think we had more in the Sprott car. We set a really good time in Round 1 and tried to make a change to make the car better in Round 2 and it made it a little worse and still had the same lap time so I think if we had the same balance with the second set of red Firestone and found more time in myself, the car was quite good as Oriol proved. Congrats to him on a second row start; I think that's great. We did a reasonable job and being the top rookie in qualifying is nothing to frown upon but we definitely would have liked to be in the top-10. The speed was there and we just didn't put it together today. If you get a little bit of traffic from guys just trying to find a gap, it throws off the rhythm a bit. It's a long race tomorrow and we just have to get through those restarts and be there at the end."

E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "I am frustrated about our qualifying session. I believe the team made good progress through the weekend so I expected to be in the top-12. I think the way we worked this weekend was the start of something positive. It is the first time we have worked this way as a team and I think it is the right way. Long Beach is always an unpredictable race. I believe we will have a good pace in the race. The key will be to stay on track, stay clean and the race will come to you."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It was a tough qualifying session because we could not find the speed we needed. The alternate tire upset the balance and I simply could not go fast enough. I am disappointed. The last race we improved the car in the warm up on race day, so tonight we will review all the data we collected today and work hard to improve the car for tomorrow's race."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "It's the most aggressive qualifying run I've made in my life. We were in a very tough group, so I'm satisfied with the position we qualified. Of course I want to improve even more. But from the progress we've made since practice one to where we are now, we've done a great job. We'll continue working and looking towards the race."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing): "We did much better than last year but our objective was to advance to the second round of qualifying but it is so hard. Our car is good and I felt I put a good lap in but I guess everybody else did too. I'm really proud of the work everybody did here -the car was good, we improved a lot. And like in the past, we're better in the race, we'll get them in the race."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "The Venom car was good today and I'm confident that it had a lot more potential. I was on pace for a lap that would have locked up P6 when I brushed the wall and bent the suspension. I owe all the guys an apology because the car was capable of the Firestone Fast Six. Turn one is going to be crazy tomorrow so if we get through there we can put our heads down and go to work."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): "Obviously I'd like to be starting closer to the front tomorrow but it just didn't work out for us today. The frustrating part is that the GoDaddy.com car is better than our starting positions shows. Track position and strategy is going to be important during tomorrow's race and we'll do our best to make our way up through the field."

It was a little bit me and a little bit the car today as to why we didn't qualify better so hopefully we can make up for that tomorrow.

Dario Franchitti

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental): "The Penske Truck Rental car has been fast all weekend so it's tough to not make the Fast Six and fight for the pole. We just didn't get a clean lap. A bunch of guys came out (of the pits) in front of me and we just missed the peak of the tires. The (Firestone alternate) reds went off quickly and we just missed it. It's so competitive out there, it doesn't take much. We've got some work ahead of us for the race tomorrow but we're feeling really confident with the car and we know we have the speed. We just need to get through the start and go from there."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "It's pretty frustrating to get blocked like in qualifying, especially on a lap that truthfully I don't know if it would get in or not, but it was going to be a 69.8 or 68.9 and I think that would have got us through. To get blocked like that, so late in the lap. These guys are pros. They know what they are doing. They said they didn't see us, but as far as I'm concerned there's no excuse at this level. It's pretty disappointing because we've been working really hard on the Service Central car and we've been improving and didn't cut it, I guess."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and Novolog FlexPen): "I think that's my best qualifying performance of the year in terms of what I did behind the wheel, but it's not my best starting position. I think that's a testament to how close the competition is in the IZOD IndyCar Series. I know the Levemir and Novolog FlexPen car is quick for the race. If we can stay out of trouble and run all 85 laps, we'll be in good shape when the checkered flag flies."

The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series continues with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 17 on the Streets of Long Beach, Calif. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 17 on the Streets of Long Beach, Calif. with the Long Beach 100. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 2 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS.

-source: indycar

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS
Tags indycar, izod, will power