POWER EARNS SECOND-STRAIGHT PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE AWARD AT BARBER
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Last April, Will Power earned the PEAK Performance Pole Award for the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series race at Barber Motorsports Park. He'll start in the same position for the April 10 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy.
Power posted a best lap of 1 minute, 11.4546 seconds on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn natural-terrain course in the Firestone Fast Six. Teammate Ryan Briscoe (1:11:7361) will join him on the front row for the 90-lap race.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon (1:11:8826) and Team Penske's Helio Castroneves (1:12:1247), the defending race winner, will occupy Row 2. Justin Wilson (1:12:3085), who is driving with an injured wrist, and Oriol Servia (1:12:4394), in his first start at Barber, will share Row 3.
Also at Barber Motorsports Park Victor Garcia grabbed the Sunoco Pole Award, his first in Firestone Indy Lights. He will share the front row with Esteban Guerrieri for Sunday's race.
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:
Wally Dallenbach was content to take a back seat to 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan for a few quick minutes at Barber Motorsports Park.
Kanaan was the chauffeur in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater around the 2.38-mile, 17-turn natural-terrain course to provide some "perspective" to the new VERSUS broadcaster. Dallenbach, who has competed in stock cars, sports cars and a handful of CART races, welcomed the opportunity and plans to incorporate a virtual lap segment into the broadcasts.
"I appreciate these things enough to know I need some seat time before I start wheeling around myself," he said.
Dallenbach joins Bob Jenkins and Jon Beekhuis in calling the action of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy. It's the first of 12 IZOD IndyCar Series races this year on VERSUS, which also will broadcast Indianapolis 500 qualifications and Miller Lite Carb Day activities. The race day window also includes live telecasts of Firestone Indy Lights races.
"To get a perspective from one of these great drivers in this car around this racetrack gives you a great feel of what they're going through," Dallenbach said. "It's a tight place, a busy racetrack and there are not a whole lot of passing zones, but the places you do you have you really have to suck it up and make it happen."
A.J. Foyt, who didn't attend the season opener March 27 because he underwent a heart procedure two days earlier, is receiving visitors at Barber Motorsports Park. Foyt, who recorded the first of his four Indianapolis 500 victories 50 years ago this May, said he feels considerably better after having a stent inserted.
He watched Vitor Meira finish eighth in the No. 14 ABC Supply car in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
"I was watching from the hospital bed and talked to him the morning before the race and threw out a couple of suggestions," Foyt said. "I don't know if they worked or not. But (the result) was real good."
Foyt has been named the grand marshal of the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona in January 2012. Foyt, the all-time Indy car winner (67), won race in 1983 and '85. Foyt holds the distinction of leading the first lap of the inaugural Daytona 24, known as the Daytona Continental in 1962, driving a Pontiac Tempest.
I was watching from the hospital bed and talked to him the morning before the race and threw out a couple of suggestions.
Sebastien Bourdais, who did not start the opener because of damage sustained to the car during the morning warm-up, will start 20th in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing. ... JR Hildebrand improved his starting position by nine over St. Petersburg. He'll start 15th in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car. ... Al Unser Jr. will drive two-seater -- the "Fastest Seat in Sports" -- that leads the field at the warm-up laps. Mario Andretti was unavailable this weekend.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
· This is Victor Garcia's first pole in Firestone Indy Lights. He qualified seventh in his series debut at St. Petersburg.
· Esteban Guerrieri qualified second. He has qualified on the front row for each of his two starts in Firestone Indy Lights.
· Stefan Wilson qualified third, his best start in Firestone Indy Lights since he qualified on the front row at Watkins Glen in 2010.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS QUOTES:
VICTOR GARCIA (No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling, Sunoco Pole Award winner): "Team Moore Racing did a really great job today. We had three sets today like we did yesterday when it was raining so we used a good strategy. At the end we had three minutes to go and knew the car was quick. We were able to get our best speed on the last lap. I am really happy and want to thank my crew and team. When my crew chief told me that I only had three minutes left I knew that we only two laps and I had to put it all out there."
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified second): "It was a tight qualifying today, especially with that full-course yellow flag that forced everyone to pit. Our pit box was in the back of pit lane so that wasn't good for us because I only got one full lap in after I went back out after the yellow and the lap was in traffic. The rest of the field was able to get two full laps after the yellow and that is where Victor Garcia got me, but the car is good and we are going to fight back in the race. The car is very smooth and it is nice to drive so I feel confident heading into the race tomorrow. We are in a good position sitting on the front row. The track still isn't as good as it was in the open test in March but it is getting better."
STEFAN WILSON (No. 5 Andretti Autosport, qualified third): "I'm really pleased to qualify third. I knew when I was on a quick lap; I was really pleased with how car felt. I felt like we were really close to having it on the last lap, but unfortunately I made a tiny mistake. With the field as competitive as it is, you can't afford to make little mistakes. I feel bad for the guys because I almost gave them their first pole of the season. We just have to look toward to tomorrow and see what we can do to make the car even quicker for the race. We'll try and move forward from there."
CONOR DALY (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified fourth): "It was unfortunate that we were this far back in the pit lineup. That was kind of unfortunate. It was just a struggle for us to find a bit of clear track. My teammates all around me, it was just hard to judge when to go. Josef got the best of us because he got to go out before us. It was my fault a bit in trying to get the gap. I just got it a bit wrong. We'll see how the race goes. The car is good. The speed is there. We were first or second the whole session. It was just unfortunate there at the end."
ANDERS KROHN (No. 9 Liberty Engineering Racing Special, qualified fifth): "In our first practice, the car was not great. The second session the car was better still, and today, again better yet. But in now our second event, there is still so much that we can do to the car so that I can push even harder and to be two tenths (of a second) from the pole is great. We're happy about that. We're all competitors and yeah, we would rather be on the pole, but this is still very good for the team. Looking forward to the race."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 11 Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified seventh): "I'm just disappointed for the guys. We had high expectations for this track. This is one of my favorites, too. I love this track, and I was hoping to do a great job for them out there and I feel like I let them down a bit. That's OK. It's just qualifying. The big show's on Sunday. We'll regroup and try and put a good racecar together and try and attack for the highest position we can get in the race. Anything can happen. It's a long race. We'll see what we can make happen."
PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
· Will Power claimed second first pole of 2011 and the 17th pole of his Indy car career. It is his second consecutive pole to start the season after he claimed the PEAK Performance Pole Award at St. Petersburg.
· Ryan Briscoe qualified second, his best start at Barber Motorsports Park.
· Helio Castroneves, the defending race winning, qualified fourth.
· James Hinchcliffe was the highest qualified Sunoco Rookie of the Year Candidate qualifying 8th for his debut race.
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST QUALIFYING QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): It was very tiring but we saved it until the end and put a good lap together. I'm happy to have the the No. 12 Verizon car up front again. It's really important to start from the front at this track. I feel we should have won the race last year with the speed we had, so we're pretty focused on the strategy.
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental, qualified second): "Well, at least I was beaten by the guy who no one seems to be able to beat in qualifying. The car is feeling great this weekend; we really unloaded strong and we've been right up there in every practice session. Wish we could have gotten the pole, but we got the front row. It's going to be a long race and I'm looking forward to it because I need to get some points back from St. Petersburg."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified third): "At the end of the (Firestone Fast Six) on the second run tires the car was so loose I couldn't get into the corner. The weather conditions can play havoc on the way the car handles, which we saw yesterday after the rain, so we'll have to keep an eye on that and hopefully have good balance."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske, qualified fourth): "We were in between sixth and seventh position in practice because we were having some difficulty with the balance. Last night we were able to make several changes for qualifying. Ron Ruzewski, my engineer, and I kept working on making the car better for today. It wasn't the ultimate result but I can't complain because we are starting in fourth position here. Last year, we were able to win from third position so I hope to repeat that tomorrow. I am quite happy with the AAA Insurance Team Penske car especially after the first race in St. Pete. It is great to be here and in Long Beach with these colors. I looked up at the monitor and thought to myself that there was a good looking car on the track and then I realized it was me. It was different to see new colors, but it is great to have a new partnership and I can't wait to put the AAA Insurance car in victory circle."
JUSTIN WILSON: (No. 22 Charter Media/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, qualified fifth): "I think we had a pretty good day. We started the morning out in eleventh and twelfth position and then the Dreyer & Reinbold team did a great job with qualifying set up. The car felt pretty good this morning and then we made a few adjustments for qualifying and it was great to get into the Firestone Fast Six. I am hoping to have a good day tomorrow in the Charter Media car. I know that the competition will be tight and we will have Oriol Servia right behind us so it will make for a good race. My wrist is feeling uncomfortable, but I know that I have to fight through it."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing, qualified sixth): "It feels great to be here in the Firestone Fast Six. It was frustrating in St. Petersburg when I was knocked out after the first round and I felt like I had only started. It feels great to have the opportunity to go for the pole at the end. We don't quite have what it takes to make the Team Penske guys nervous yet, but we are working our way there. I am very happy for Newman/Haas Racing and all the hard work they have put in this week. Now we have a great teammate with James Hinchcliffe and a wonderful sponsor with Telemundo so I am looking forward to the rest of the season."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Clorox, qualified seventh): "Very disappointed. I talked about this before the session. We gave up a tenth in the hairpin. We thought we'd have another lap but we had a little miscommunication and we didn't get another run at it. We need to figure out a way to get up to the front from seventh, but if anyone can do it its the Target team."
For me it was just a matter of getting used to the red Firestone alternate tires.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing, qualified eighth): "It's one of those things where you say, 'Man, I'm only a tenth (of a second) out of the fast six. I could have been there.' But then you say 'It's my first race and I'm only a tenth out of the fast six.' We are super-happy with how the session went for the Sprott team and we are really happy that Oriol made it into the Firestone Fast Six. It's one of those things that says a lot about the cars that Newman/Haas Racing brought here. We didn't unload great and we have done a lot of work and the cars have gotten really good so the team deserves a lot of credit. For me it was just a matter of getting used to the red Firestone alternate tires. It's a big difference and that is the first time I have ever had a chance to drive on them. I was really lucky that we got out of that first group and got a second change to give it a go in Round 2. I'm very happy that the Sprott car is starting in the top-10 for the race tomorrow."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, qualified ninth): "We got what we could get from the car and that is where it put us today. We have to be better than that tomorrow if we want to make anything happen. We're off where we need to be right now and we've got to find it pretty quick."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central, qualified 10th): "We're happy with a top-10 qualifying run for the No. 38 Service Central car. The car is great. Coming out of practice in p4, we thought we'd have a better qualifying run but we'll just have to work on our race strategy and pass some cars tomorrow."
TAKUMA SATO (No. KV RACING Technology - Lotus, qualified 11th): "It was a disappointing qualifying. We tried to improve the car and indeed we were improving, but looking at the field we didn't have enough speed. It is a real shame we could not achieve what we wanted. I tried everything I could, but we struggled a lot. We are going to have to work really hard to get everything together for the race tomorrow."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified 12th): "We had a pretty good session this morning on the blacks (Firestone tire). We are fighting a lot of entry oversteer in the car. We put on the reds (Firestone tire) thinking there would be a lot of understeer. The car was quite loose at the beginning of the qualifying session, so we were not able to get a good lap out of it. I'm disappointed about that. We tried to make up a bunch by changing the car during the break, and we didn't improve it. We stayed where we were, and it was not enough to move up. We'll just try to fight our way through again in the race and try to finish in the top 6 and keep scoring points for the championship."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM Racing, qualified 13th): "Qualifying was a little bit disappointing because our group was pretty tough, but I think we were really good. It was definitely close, but we got caught a little bit in traffic on our good laps. That seems to be the case almost every time. But I think we'll be alright starting 13th, and I'm sure that we're going to have a consistent race car and a good race tomorrow."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, qualified 18th): "It's been a tough couple of days for the team, but we have lots of faith that we will have a good race tomorrow. The crew, once again, did a great job preparing the car for the qualifying, but we needed another 1.9 tenths of a second to make it into the second round of qualifying. This is a challenging track with a mix of fast and slow corners and a lot of quick changes in direction so finding the right setup is a compromise. You have to give up some speed in some places to gain it in others.
We're just trying to find speed and haven't gotten there yet.
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog Flex Pen): "I learned a lot in this qualifying session. Still learning on reds and trying to maximize tires as much as possible. It's very competitive, we're all really tight; you have to be on it at all times. Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing will have a good car for the race tomorrow."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Window World Cares): "We're just trying to find speed and haven't gotten there yet. We never got the car how we wanted it. I'm disappointed, really. We all seem to be struggling. Marco showed a bit more speed, so we'll see what we can learn from him and go from there.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "We're just not getting the grip out of the 'red' tires that we need, that everyone else is getting. We need to look at our overall balance and setup is. Now, we're going to be going into Sunday changing everything and that's not ideal for us at all. We came here trying some pretty radical stuff that didn't work for us and now we're playing catch-up because of it. But, we're up as a team and down as a team, and tomorrow is the only day that counts this weekend. We've got every expectation to still get a good result tomorrow."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): "Today's qualifying run wasn't the result we were looking for. We'll have to play it smart and work our way through the field to have a successful race for the GoDaddy.com car. Hopefully there will be some opportunities for us to make some advances in the field. We'll just have to play it safe and work hard tomorrow."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "Qualifying didn't go as we expected after the test days we had here--and I'm just comparing to ourselves, not the others. We tried to improve but it didn't go the way we wanted but that's going to happen during the year. It's not the first time and it won't be the last. What counts is that we learn from it and improve and we did improve the ABC Supply car from the last practice to qualifying—just not enough. We'll be okay race day; I hope there's a lot of 'changes' on the starts and on strategy so we can take advantage of those."
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series continues with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3 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 10 at Barber Motorsports Park with the Barber 100. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Noon. (ET) by VERSUS.