Chevrolet V-6 Power Shows Strength in Long Beach Qualifying as Ryan Briscoe Wins the Pole
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 14, 2012) – Chevrolet teams and drivers proved the strength of their resolve by putting five Chevrolet V-6-powered cars in the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy and claiming the third consecutive pole for the Bowtie in as many races.
For the first time this season, it was Ryan Briscoe taking the pole behind the wheel of his No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Briscoe set an IZOD IndyCar Series track record with a stellar lap time of 1:08:6089 around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course. It was also the third consecutive pole for Team Penske.
Will Power qualified second with Ryan Hunter-Reay landing the third spot in the final qualifying order. E.J. Viso claimed the fifth position at the checkered flag of the Fast Six session and James Hinchcliffe was the sixth fastest qualifier.
However, final starting positions will not be determined until tomorrow following the morning warm-up when a penalty will be assessed to all the Chevrolet powered cars as well as some of the cars with competing manufacturers’ engines. Per the provisions set forth by the IndyCar rule book a penalty of 10 gird positions will be levied against all cars that changed-out an engine that had not reached its minimum mileage threshold prior to the Long Beach race.
"We are proud of the great effort from our Chevrolet Indy V-6 teams in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Long Beach,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet IZOD IndyCar Series Program Manager. “Having five Chevy-powered cars in the Fast Six shows the strength of the combined Chevrolet Team. They rose to the challenge of the engine change as well as limited practice due to the weather issues on Friday.
"The decision to change all 11 engines was based on what we learned earlier this week and we felt obligated to act on it. We were not certain something would happen during the race, but we wanted to preserve the show, and decided it was in the best interest of all our Chevy teams, and the Long Beach Grand Prix to swap the engines out beforehand, knowing the grid penalty will be difficult to overcome in the race. "Congratulations to Ryan Briscoe on winning the pole. We support the engine change-out rules that are in place in the IZOD IndyCar Series and look forward to watching our Chevrolet drivers put on a great race for the fans on Sunday afternoon as they work their way through the field."
Other Chevrolet qualifiers were: Helio Castroneves, 8th; Tony Kanaan, 10th; JR Hildebrand, 16th; Marco Andretti, 18th; Ruben Barrichello, 19th and Ed Carpenter, 20th.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy is scheduled to start Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 12:15 p.m. PT (3:15 p.m. ET) with live television coverage on NBC Sports Network. Live radio coverage will be on XM Radio Channel 94 and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 212. In addition, IndyCar live timing and scoring with the radio broadcast can be found at www.indy.car.com.
CHEVROLET V-6 DRIVER POST QUALIFYING QUOTES:
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 2 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, POLE WINNER: ON HOW GOOD IT FEELS TO WIN POLE: "It feels good. Thank you. It was just a trouble-free run. No mistakes. I felt like the car was just really nice. As I did more laps on the used reds, I felt like the balance was improving for me. Actually I just kept improving the lap time. Just proud of my guys. We've been working on the car. We haven't had much practice this weekend. So, when we unload and we've got fast cars, it shows the preparation that happens back home. I am proud of Team Penske. Proud for Hitachi. We've got a lot of guests here this weekend as well. I want to thank everyone there."
HOW MUCH DOES IT BITE THAT YOU WIN THE POLE AND YOU HAVE TO START 11TH? "Yea it bites. (LAUGHS) But, we just have to go with it. You have to trust Chevrolets judgement in this decision. The important thing is, we know we've got fast cars. It is a tough track to pass on, but the first step is having a fast car. The other fact is, the decision was made to make sure that we have reliable engines. I 100% support them in it. I guess we are doing the best of a situation. We've just got to see what we can make of it tomorrow in the race."
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 2ND: ON HIS QUALIFYING: "It was a good battle in the Fast Six for sure. That was everything I had. So Ryan (Briscoe) laid down a mega lap. Qualifying was important because we didn't want to end up like 15th or 16th. As everyone said, we have to make the best of the situation and see where we can end up. Tomorrow will be really important for the championship; just to get as many points as possible. Not finishing...we just have to focus hard on the strategy and get the most out of the race."
ARE WE GOING TO SEE YOU GUYS ATTEMPTING TO PASS IN PLACES ON THIS TRACK WE HAVEN’T REALLY SEEN BEFORE? “No, I think you will see a lot of crashing if that is the case. (LAUGHS) It is tough to pass. There might be a lot of that, who knows.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD: ON HIS QUALIFYING: "It was okay. I expected a little bit more grip out there today. But, with only one session and two laps at a time here and there, it was tough to really know what we wanted from the car. It was the same for everybody there. Tired of being that couple of hundreths off to those Penske guys (SMILES). It has been three years in a row now. Definitely wanted the pole despite the penalty that we are going to take. Thought today was as good of a chance as I have ever had. We're going to start 13th I believe, not sure. So, it was a good day. We wanted a lot more today, we're pretty bummed about that."
WITH SUCH LIMITED PRACTICE, HOW DIFFICULT WAS QUALIFYING? “You couldn’t get too greedy with the car for qualifying. You didn’t really know how you aggressive you could get with the setup. I think everybody played it a little bit safe that first round. What a strange weekend so far and it is going to get even stranger tomorrow with the penalties.”
E.J. VISO, NO. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 5TH : ON HIS QUALIFYING: "Coming from a pretty good performance wise start of the season, we definitely have this ball rolling. We are very proud to be part of the Chevy hard work they have been doing with the team. Since St. Petersburg, we've been pretty strong as a team. Alabama didn't go great, but here we are. We've been very strong since the first practice session, even if it was a little bit damp. Qualifying went great. Pretty much everything that we planned happened. Unfortunately maybe it was my side, maybe I had a little of time that could have put me closer to the front, if not on pole. The last corner, just left it out there. Here we are; it is a very long race. Unfortunately, we are not going to be starting in the position that I qualified. We needed to change the engines. Me and all the Chevy guys, but this is how it is. This is a team work. We win as a team and we lose as a team. Looking forward to this race very much."
DID YOU CHANGE YOUR QUALIFYING STRATEGY AT ALL KNOWING YOU WEREN’T GOING TO START THERE? “I sometimes you think of what’s better; starting in the top-six or wasting an extra set of tires and taking you farther in qualifying or keeping them for the race. I was going to go to the Q-2 (qualifying session two) with an old set of tires. But, we decided that track position is always good to find, so we went for the second set. Each race has its strategy, and obviously due to the circumstances, that is what we went for.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 TEAM GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 6TH, (ONLY DRIVER THIS SEASON TO APPEAR IN ALL 3 FIRESTONE FAST SIX SESSIONS): ON HIS QUALIFYING: "This is a nice bounce-back from this morning. We had an issue on lap two (of morning practice), brain-fade, driver error. Didn't get a whole lot of useful running out of practice. We went into qualifying not quite sure what to expect. Big thanks to the GoDaddy boys, because we were there literally bolting the thing back together as we were rolling out for qualifying. Q-1(qualifying session one) was pretty start forward. Q-2 was a lap that would have put us comfortably into the Fast Six. Then had a little gremlin that cost us some time and caught some traffic. I sort of went for it on my last lap, and had a pretty phenomenal smoke show in turn one when both fronts (tires) locked up. Still managed to finish the lap and sneak into the Fast Six, but unfortunately because of the tires we need for the race, had to run those again in the Fast Six and they had flat spots. I was a little bit handicapped going in. We did what we could. Still a good bounce-back. Happy to be in the Fast-Six again. Obviously as E.J. (Viso) eluded to, we aren't going to be starting there, but I think it is going to be an interesting afternoon and hopefully me and all the Chevy guys can get back up to the front by the time the checkered flag falls."
DID YOU CHANGE YOUR QUALIFYING STRATEGY AT ALL KNOWING YOU WEREN’T GOING TO START THERE? “I think track position is so big here, I think we all decided to push for it. The kind of wild card is going to be Marco (Andretti). He was the guy that sort of rolled the dice there and he qualified on blacks. He is starting a bit further back, but he has a bunch of tired now to play with tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see how that one sort of works out for him.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 AUTO CLUB TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 8TH: "We overcame what happened with the incident this morning in the No. 3 Auto Club machine with a lot of hard work. Right now, sitting eighth after qualifying plus the penalty, gives us plenty of room for strategy tomorrow. Hopefully my great Team Penske crew will make things happen and we can make up some spots on the track for a win."
TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 MOUSER ELECTRONICS | GEICO – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 10TH: "The crash this morning didn't help with trying to get track time. It was a very competitive qualifying session and we were just a little bit behind. I missed making the Firestone Fast Six by a tenth of a second and when you think of it like that, it could have gone my way just like it had done at Barber a few weeks ago or not. We just need to work on car tonight so we are ready for the race tomorrow."
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 16TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING: "I kind of screwed that up in qualifying, I hit the wall on the first lap in qualifying and then hit it again in the same place on the last lap. So I added insult to injury. On the first lap that I hit the wall on I had been three-and-a-half or four tenths up on that lap, so that was a major drag. We’ve made some improvements already this weekend and we were able to get through the field pretty well here last year and the National Guard Chevy is definitely working a lot better for us this year. The Panther guys have been working hard and we’ll be looking forward to powering our way up through the field tomorrow.”
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 TEAM RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 18TH: ON THE TEAM’S CHOICE TO QUALIFY ON BLACK TIRES: "It's pretty clear that we have a really fast car. We were fast in the wet yesterday and we were fast (fifth quickest) in the morning session. But, with the 10-spot grid penalty (due to the engine change before the event), we were prepared to give up positions in qualifying to save all of our tires for the race. This gives us the maximum number of options tomorrow. With so many cars getting penalties, the race winner might not be the fastest, but the one that's the smartest with their tires and pit strategy."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO, NO. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 19TH: “"I have only managed to run around 41 laps this weekend and then trying to qualify on a different tire, I ended up just a little bit off the advancing group in the first round. I really need more track time and as the race progresses I will start to get a better feel. We can't be happy with where I am starting, but I think if I had known the track a little more, I would of done better, so hopefully tomorrow will be a good race."
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 23RD: “It was a tough day, similar to Barber. It rained on Friday there too and we had fog on Saturday morning there. Here, it rained Friday and we had a lot of yellow flags this morning. That is a little frustrating. But we made the car better for qualifying. We went out early in the first qualifying session to get a clean lap. With the track getting better with each run, it might have hurt our lap time a bit by going early. We made good changes and improvements through qualifying. We just wanted to get as many laps as we could in qualifying since we didn’t get many laps in practice. I was happy with our time considering the lack of track time this weekend. We need to make a few more changes for Sunday and get on a proper strategy for the race. It felt good to see the sun today. It’s much more like a Long Beach day.”