Andersen Racing's Grenier Wins Pole And Finishes Second in Star Mazda Race At O'Reilly Raceway Park; Krohn Finishes Fifth and Vautier Sixth INDIANAPOLIS, May 29 - Andersen Racing's Mikael Grenier of Stoneham, Quebec earned his first pole...
Andersen Racing's Grenier Wins Pole And Finishes Second in Star Mazda Race At O'Reilly Raceway Park; Krohn Finishes Fifth and Vautier Sixth
INDIANAPOLIS, May 29 - Andersen Racing's Mikael Grenier of Stoneham, Quebec earned his first pole position of the year with an automatic new track record and then posted his second podium finish of the week when he finished second in the Star Mazda portion of the NOS Energy Drink "Night Before the 500" show presented by Comfort Suites of Brownsburg at O'Reilly Raceway Park Saturday night.
After placing third last Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Grenier improved that finish by one position when he took the checkered under yellow in second position in his No. 17, which is sponsored by Slow Cow relaxation drink, April Super Flow, NAPA Auto Parts, HS Telecom and Desharnais.
Grenier wisely tried to save his Goodyear tires throughout the 45-minute event, which was scheduled for 125 laps but ended under yellow after 122 circuits of the 0.686-mile oval when a competitor stopped on the backstretch.
Conor Daly, who qualified second, passed Grenier on the outside of Turn 2 on the first lap and led the whole way.
Carlos Linares hit the wall between Turns 3 and 4 with 25 laps down to bring out a yellow, but Daly got a good jump on the restart and remained in first place. With no other restarts the field got very strung out and Grenier had no real chance to catch the hometown hero.
Grenier's teammates, Anders Krohn of Stavenger, Norway and Tristan Vautier of Corenc, France, finished fifth and sixth, respectively. They posted the fourth- and fifth-fastest times in time trials, but they started 10th and 11th after receiving penalties for stepping away from their cars for a moment while they waited in line to be weighed after qualifications.
Both worked hard to overcome the penalties. Krohn felt his No. 47, which is sponsored by Trallfa Industries, Colosseum Dental and Norse Cutting & Abandonment, was capable of achieving a podium finish for sure if he'd been able to start in his original position.
Vautier got off to a fabulous start, advancing from 11th to seventh by the end of lap one. Krohn moved up a bit more slowly, but they were running together in seventh and eighth by lap 15. They both moved up one spot when Linares crashed. Vautier passed Joao Horto for fifth on the restart, but Horto got him back a couple laps later.
The teammates exchanged positions with 45 laps down. Krohn got fifth on lap 85 by passing Connor De Phillippi, and remained in that spot until the end. Vautier stayed in seventh until he got by De Phillippi too in Turn 4 on lap 95. Vautier's car developed handling problems and trouble with its right-rear tire at the end, so he felt lucky to finish and at least earn some points for his sponsors, Moulin T.P., Cecibon, Circuit du Laquis and Fontanel Promotion.
The next race is on the 0.875-mile trioval at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa on June 20.
Mikael Grenier: "It was pretty hard. I think we had the car to win. I backed off to save my tires, and I think that was the right strategy to do. If we would have had a late restart I wanted to have the tires to attack.
"It was good for the team. We know we can win.
"This was my first real oval race, so I'm really happy with what the team did. The team believes in me, and that gives me some energy. I had some things happen in Canada that made it hard to focus this week, so second in this race is good.
"I think my fitness is good, but this was a little harder than a street course. There was no time to relax.
"I played with my bars when I was lapping traffic.
"We had a really fast car, but I just couldn't pass him. But I still think we did the right strategy.
"I'm not sure but maybe I'm second in the points now. For sure I moved forward."
Anders Krohn: "I think it's a shame that a small miscommunication resulted in such a big penalty after qualifying. I qualified fourth but I had to start 10th because I was penalized for not being in line in the post-qualifying tech when they weigh the cars. It seems like a very harsh penalty to me; it was not like either the team or I were trying to do anything wrong. It seemed like they were looking for an excuse to give us a penalty.
"We had a podium car for sure. But in the race we had to forget all that and focus on one car and one lap at a time. Tenth to fifth was the maximum we could have done today.
"I'm so proud of the Andersen Racing team. All of us are working well together. It was a shame we couldn't capitalize on the effort we produced here. We have the team and the speed. The wins will come."
Tristan Vautier: "I was penalized after qualifying because I arrived 1 minute after they wanted me to be there. I went back to the trailer for a minute. I came right back to the line, but they were looking for a mistake by us. It is very upsetting. When you consider the investment it takes to be P5 in qualifying, to be penalized for something like that is very difficult. It wasn't like we were trying to do something wrong.
"I asked for my car to be quite free in the race, but the track changed a lot and we had a lot of oversteer to deal with. I was always on the edge. At the end the car was really hard to drive. The right-rear tire had a wear mark that was about the size of a saucer. That explains the problem.
"I had a good restart, except I got sixth gear by mistake when I should have been in fifth.
"We scored some points, but we could have done much better here with the cars Andersen Racing gave us."