Long Beach: Series qualifying report

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Saturday, April 17, 2010) - In Firestone Indy Lights qualifying, James Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car, earned his second pole start of the three-race season with a quick lap of 1:14.6261. The top...

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Saturday, April 17, 2010) - In Firestone Indy Lights qualifying, James Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car, earned his second pole start of the three-race season with a quick lap of 1:14.6261.

The top seven cars were separated by .9681 of a second after the 60-minute qualifying round for the 45-lap Grand Prix of Long Beach on the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit, and the gap between Hinchcliffe and 10th-place starter Junior Strous was 1.2969 seconds.

J.K. Vernay is positioned to make it three consecutive victories as he'll start on the outside of the front row in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. He produced a quick lap of 1:14.7829.

Charlie Kimball (1:14.9094) in the No. 26 Levemir FlexPen car for AFS Racing Andretti Autosport will share Row 2 with Sebastian Saavedra (1:14.9761), driving the No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport entry. Martin Plowman (1:15.4126) in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing car for AFS Racing Andretti Autosport and Philip Major (1:15.4126), driving the No. 49 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car will be on Row 3.

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS QUALIFYING NOTES:

* This is the second career Firestone Indy Lights pole for James Hinchcliffe. He opened this season by winning the pole for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

* James Hinchcliffe has started in the top five in each of the three races this season. He won the pole at St. Petersburg and started fifth at Barber.

* Series points leader J.K. Vernay qualified second. He has started on the front row of each of the three races this season. He started second at St. Petersburg and from the pole at Barber. He won both races.

* Charlie Kimball qualified third, his second consecutive top-three start. Kimball qualified second at Barber.

* Rookie Philip Major qualified a career-best sixth. His previous best was ninth at St. Petersburg.

* Tonis Kasemets qualified seventh for his first career Firestone Indy Lights start.

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 TMR - Xtreme Coil Drilling, pole): "The lap was pretty good. We sort of had to take to make a compromise with the way our fuel strategy played out to be done a little bit earlier. We had to use that second set of tires a bit sooner than the other guys. We knew the track was going to be a bit better at the end, but our hands were tied. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life, just standing there. J.K. (Vernay) did put in a quicker lap, but it was under yellow. Congrats to him, but a bit of a tough break for him. But we've had some luck against us, so it's nice for us to have something go our way a bit. Really happy to be on pole."

J.K. VERNAY (No. 7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, second): "It's OK. I have to judge the limit to where I was in the test. Now I'm qualifying, I know what I can do with the car. It's a good thing for tomorrow. It's a good thing for the start, to be in the first row."

(About losing fast lap to caution period): "I'm really disappointed because we were really fast today. We had like five or six yellow flags. It was crazy, but a driver into the wall. And each time we came on track with new tires, and there was a yellow. I did only two laps with each set of tires, and it's not enough to do a good lap time. The last lap time, when I did a .4, it was my third lap. It was pretty good. The lap after would have been even better."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 26 Levemir FlexPen, third): "It was pretty busy to start with. A lot of people were trying to be aggressive early. We kind of played our game with tire strategy. We were waiting for the end to really bang the time in. We were quick on the first set and then quick again on the second set. I think we did a quick lap there that was P1 for a minute. Hinch put a second set on a little earlier, gambled that it would be clean and then there would be yellows at the end, and it paid off. When I was going for the big one on the end, right on the last lap, I caught a yellow, and it kind of messed up the flow. This morning on race-distance tires we were P4 against guys on fresh tires. Come race day tomorrow, we're in good shape."

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SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8-8:15 a.. Firestone Indy Lights warm-up (all cars)
10:40 a.m. Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Long Beach (45 laps)

-source: irl

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Bryan Herta , Sam Schmidt , Charlie Kimball , Tonis Kasemets , Junior Strous , James Hinchcliffe , Phillip Major , Sebastian Saavedra , Martin Plowman
Teams Andretti Autosport , Bryan Herta Autosport