Team Chevy St. Pete qualifying report

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Team Chevy Racing press release

Will Power Wins Pole for Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Chevy-Powered Teams Sweep Top 5 Positions, Take 7 of Top 9 in Return to IndyCar

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 24, 2012) – Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, won the pole for the IZOD IndyCar Series season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday as Team Chevy swept the first five starting positions. Power set a track qualifying record with a lap of 1:01.3721 during the Firestone Fast Six.

Will Power, Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

“The Chevy was obviously the strongest engine,” said Power, following his third consecutive pole at St. Petersburg. “We made a couple of adjustments for the Fast Six, and the car was really good.”

Power won at 1.8-mile street course in 2010.

Completing Chevrolet’s 1-2-3-4-5 qualifying sweep were Ryan Briscoe (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet, second); Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, third); James Hinchcliffe (No. 27 GoDaddy.com Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, fourth); and Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Shell V Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet, fifth).

“This is a very good start to the weekend,” said Mark Kent, Director of Chevrolet Racing. “Everyone on Team Chevy put in a lot of hard work and we’ve waited a long time to get here, and all of that effort and patience paid off today.”

This weekend’s event marks the first in IndyCar racing for Chevrolet since 2005.

“It’s been a great effort to get the season started with this kind of speed,” said Briscoe, who finished 0.1636 seconds off the pace, and won at St. Pete in 2009. “We’ve been really busy testing this year, with the new DW-12, the new Chevy engine. It’s just been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work as well getting it to this point.”

“We’re happy, really proud of Chevy for being in the top five, absolutely,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s a good way to start the season.”

Marco Andretti (No. 26 RC Cola Chevrolet, eighth) and Tony Kanaan (No. 11 GEICO/Mouser Electronics Chevrolet, ninth) also qualified in the top 10 for Team Chevy.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled to start Sunday March 25 at 1:00 p.m. ET with live coverage of the 100-lap event on ABC TV. The IMS Radio Network brings the action live to fans. Both the radio broadcast and live timing and scoring can be found on www.indycar.com.

CHEVROLET DRIVER POST QUALIFYING DRIVER QUOTES:

WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, POLE WINNER: ‘Yeah, I was actually surprised at the lap time on used car tires. The Chevy was obviously the strongest engine. We made a couple adjustments for the Fast Six and the car was really good. I was able to get pole.”

RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 2ND: “It's a great effort to get the season started with this kind of speed. We've been really busy testing this year, with the new DW-12 (Dallara chassis), the new Chevy engine. It's just been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work as well getting it to this point. I'm absolutely loving it. Obviously, first time coming to the streets of St. Pete with this package, and it's performing well, with a new track record today. I'm sure we'll see many more of those this year. Really good effort to start on the front row with my teammate (Will Power). We've been pushing each other hard, as we always do. Not the smoothest of runs at Team Penske today with Helio's (Castroneves) crew having to fix the suspension and I had a battery voltage go low, had to come in the pits and change battery. We were lucky to get out there in the Fast Six and get the laps in that we did. Pretty happy. Made a couple of small mistakes. I feel like I could have been a little bit faster. For used tires in the Fast Six, it was a good job. Looking forward to the race tomorrow. I think it will be very exciting. Just want to thank Chevrolet as well. Doing a great job, working hard with us. Every single session we've got that support that we need. Any kind of glitches we might have, someone from Chevy is right there helping us out. Five in the top six, so great job by Chevrolet."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 28 DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD: It's certainly fun with all the energy in the air with these new cars, the manufacturers going head-to-head. St. Pete always puts on a great show. We're happy to be here.

It was a good day for the DHL Sun Drop car. We had to go to work on it this morning. We weren't really happy with it. To see where we ended up in the end is not only a testament to the crew, the team, but also the teamwork, the drivers sharing information. I got to thank James (Hinchcliffe) and Marco (Andretti) also for all their input, which helped make quick cars today. We're happy, really proud of Chevy being in the top five absolutely. It's a good way to start the season. This is the beginning to a long trek. Certainly the right way to start off. Yeah, we're looking forward. Tomorrow is the only day that counts, so we really have to make it happen tomorrow. Nobody really knows what to expect. Should be exciting for the fans.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 4TH: “It's a pretty good result for us. The goal was to get into the Fast Six. If you told us we would have made that, I would have been pretty happy. The funny part, after being quickest in Q2, you're almost disappointed with fourth. It's a great effort by Andretti Autosport. To have Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and I in the Fast Six, taking over the second row, it's great. Congrats to Will (Power) and Ryan (Briscoe) on the front row. For us, it was a fairly straightforward session. Obviously, everybody's first time on the reds. For Q1, weren't quite sure what to expect. Maybe not quite as big of a jump in lap times as we expected. We made a change on the Go Daddy car for Q2, the thing really came alive on the second set of Firestone reds. It was a big lap. We knew it was going to be tough to back that up with another used set of tires for Q3. We made a little change to find a little more speed. I made a little bit of a mistake on my quickest lap. Maybe a tiny bit left in there. At the end of the day, for my first start here, first start of the season, a big way to kick it off. So just big thanks to everybody at Andretti and Go Daddy. It's great to be on the sharp end of the grid heading into that famous first turn. What's been impressive with this Chevy team, every session there's an improvement, every session they are plugging into that car and they're finding gains. So for us it's awesome because you know every single time they plug in, it's been better. They plug in after every session. They say “This time we're going to have this, this time we're going to have this”. Just the improvement not only just testing, but this weekend has been phenomenal. It is certainly opening my eyes as to how this whole manufacturer war is going to play out. It's just awesome to see the work that the Chevy guys have been doing."

HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 SHELL V POWER/PENNZOIL TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 5TH: “Definitely the Shell V-Power boys did an incredible job fixing my car for qualifying three. Unfortunately I was having radio communication problems. I couldn't understand on the back straight, any straight at all. I kept asking them, ‘What position, what's going on, do I slow down, not slow down?’ Nobody was giving any information at all. I could see they were trying to communicate, but the radio unfortunately wasn't working. Obviously just start pushing and pushing as hard as you can. Okay, nobody is saying anything. Unfortunately I went over the limit of the car, ended up hitting turn six I think - turn nine, thank you. I'm never good with the numbers anyway (laughter). I thought it was over. We weren't able to qualify for segment three, I thought it was over. Getting out of the car, the guys became fully concentrated and focused to fix the rear suspension. I would say in seven minutes they were able to switch the entire suspension and we were able to go back out there. Certainly I didn't have much. Well, everybody was on the same 10th. But certainly happy for Team Penske having three cars in the top five, and Chevy as well. A great testament to hard work for everyone. I know Honda is going to be tough tomorrow. But we keep working as a team and certainly we're going to get the result that we want.

I think there was a last-minute change on the rules. Got caught a little bit of surprise with the Chevy guys. But through yesterday's two sessions and this morning, they stepped up the game. Like I said, it's a testament to have only one Honda here to show that the Chevy is very competitive. Although it's a lot of things. You see the times are extremely close. It will be like that in the race, as well.”

MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 TEAM RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 8TH: "We can win from there (eighth starting position), for sure. I think we'll be right up front with both of my teammates. The tires drop off a lot after just one lap, but it's going to be the same for everyone, so it should be a good race. The field is so close together (on lap times) so it should be exciting for the fans."

TONY KANAAN – NO. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY W/SH CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 9TH: “I am extremely happy about the whole team. We were a tenth from all three cars making the top-12 and I was less than a tenth from making it to the Firestone Fast Six. It’s a pretty good start. We are not making excuses, but it is still a new team for all of us. I gathered some people from old times, but we are still trying to get a handle on everything. I don’t think I have room to be upset. We missed making the Firestone Fast Six by less than a tenth of a second. It is awesome.

E.J. VISO – NO. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 13TH: “It was a good qualifying result. We ended up 13th and possibly 12th. It was one of those qualifying sessions where you finish up and you know that you have a better car than the results showed. I think we really have a top-seven or even a top-six car. We did not expect the wind to affect the car as much as it did. It really upset the balance on what would have been my fastest lap and I ended up missing the second round by just a tenth of a second. It’s okay. We have been working well as a team and we know we have potential. Tomorrow is going to be a big day and I am very excited.”

RUBENS BARRICHELLO – NO. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 14TH: "I think my first qualifying session went well. I am playing catch up all the time. We unfortunately lost the morning session yesterday and I am still learning the circuit while the rest of the field is going flat out. I am pleased though, I improved this morning and today was the first time I have ever used the red (alternate) tires. I can never be pleased with 13th or 14th, but we have to set targets and my targets are high. I have done less than 50 laps on this track so far, so I have to be happy-ish with that. I am excited for tomorrow though and starting my first IndyCar race."

JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 18TH: “Our pace all weekend has been quite good, I think maybe we got caught out a little bit maybe expecting too much from the (Firestone Alternate) red tires. We were obviously just a couple tenths away from transferring to the next round there. It’s frustrating because one of our main goals this year is to improve our road and street qualifying program and we felt like we were doing that here, but as I said, we’ve practiced really well and should have a good National Guard Chevy for tomorrow.”

ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S VODKA CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 24TH: “It’s hard to see improvement sometimes when you are near the back of the field. But we can see some with our qualifying run. We are closing the gap each session. We were on the red Firestones (tires) in practice against the fast guys on the blacks. Then, in qualifying, we were all on reds and we closed the gap. So I can see us getting better each time we run. We are taking the positive out of this and continue learning as much as possible right now. We know we are behind on track time, but we are making gains. The whole group (Ed Carpenter Racing) is working better together every day. This is a fun group to work with and I’m very proud of the effort the team is giving me. I haven’t run at St. Pete since 2009 and the track really hasn’t changed that much. There is definitely something different about this new car and I am learning about it with every session. You need a new driving style with this car and engine. And as a group, we are still learning. It’s a little bit of trial and error right now for us due to the lacking of testing time. I would be more frustrated if we weren’t improving, but that isn’t the case. We are making gains each time out.”

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Series INDYCAR
Tags andretti, briscoe, chevrolet, hunter-reay, penske, power