Mid-Ohio: Series qualifying report

POWER TAKES POLE FOR HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO LEXINGTON, Ohio - Will Power overcame a crash in the morning practice session to earn the PEAK Performance Pole Award for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Power, who has participated in all eight...

POWER TAKES POLE FOR HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO

LEXINGTON, Ohio - Will Power overcame a crash in the morning practice session to earn the PEAK Performance Pole Award for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Power, who has participated in all eight Firestone Fast Six sessions this season, claimed the top spot for the 85-lap race with a best lap of 1 minute, 7.1997 seconds (120.965 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car during the 10-minute shootout. It is his seventh of the season, tying teammate Helio Castroneves' IZOD IndyCar Series record.

In the 60-minute practice session, Power's car clipped the curb at the apex of the corner, ran wide into the wet grass and spun trying to point it back onto the track. It backed hard into the tires at the end of the Turn 1 runoff.

"Bad mistake on my behalf this morning," said Power, who got out of the car without assistance, though the Indy Racing League medical staff reported he has a thigh bruise. "The guys had to put together the spare car in a two-hour space. I can't thank them enough."

Four different teams entered the Firestone Fast Six, and seven different teams are represented on the first six rows. Dario Franchitti (1:07.2846), who advanced to the Firestone Fast Six the past four races (all with podium finishes), will start on the outside of the front row.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

Honda Performance Development is the first engine manufacturer to commit to the next generation of IZOD IndyCar Series car.

HPD president Erik Berkman announced before qualifications at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course that the racing arm of American Honda Motor Company is extending participation beyond expiration of its current supply agreement at the conclusion of the 2011 season.

HPD will continue to provide the Honda Indy V-8 engine to all competitors during the 2011 season, after which a 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 power plant, designed by HPD, will debut when new engine specifications take effect in the series in 2012.

The cost of a season-long lease for the 2012 Honda IndyCar engine will be reduced by up to 40 percent from current pricing. This follows a number of other significant cost reductions, which Honda has implemented since taking on the challenge of supplying the entire field of entrants in 2006. HPD has provided engines to the series since 2003.

"Through both robust and trying times, our commitment to open-wheel racing in America has never wavered," Berkman said. "With today's announcement, we are pleased to reaffirm that commitment, and extend it deep into the current decade.

"With a passionate and energetic new title sponsor in IZOD, dynamic new management at its helm, and plans to significantly reshape its on-track product in the near future, the IZOD IndyCar Series is poised for significant growth. We are delighted to take a role in that promising future."

On June 2, IZOD IndyCar Series officials announced that its 2012 engine platform will allow manufacturers to produce engines with a maximum of six cylinders as well as maximum displacement of 2.4 cubic liters. The ethanol-fueled engines will produce between 550 and 700 horsepower to suit the diverse set of tracks on which the IZOD IndyCar Series competes and will be turbocharged to allow for flexibility in power.

Other manufacturers are welcome to join Honda in supplying engines.

"The ICONIC Advisory Committee has researched future engine platforms with manufacturers, teams, drivers and fans, and they felt this strategy best highlights key attributes of the sport - speed, competition and diversity," IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard said. "We feel this open and all-inclusive platform will make our sport an attractive option to engine manufacturers, while allowing development of a relevant and innovative platform to the current and future automotive industry by highlighting efficiency, performance, durability, quality, environmental responsibility and safety."

Founded in 1993 and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for American Honda high-performance racing cars and engines.

"By Honda extending its participation, I think it says a lot of what the IndyCar Series is now and where it's going," said Gil de Ferran, managing partner of de Ferran Dragon Racing and former sporting director for Honda's F1 program. "Manufacturers aren't forced to participate in motorsports, and they're not forced to participate in any one series per say. They do so because they choose to and because they can see the benefits that motorsports can bring to the business of selling road cars. Honda, as people like to say, is a racing company that happens to sell road cars."

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

- Four different teams are represented in the Firestone Fast Six

- Team Penske, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti Autosport and KV Racing Technology. Seven different teams are represented in the top 12 qualifiers.

- Will Power won the PEAK Performance Pole Award, his seventh pole this season. Power has only qualified outside the top-five once this season (Kansas).

- Dario Franchitti will start second, his third front row start this season.

- Both Power and Franchitti extended their streaks of top-five starts this season to seven.

- Takuma Sato qualified third, his best starting position this season. His previous best start was fifth at Watkins Glen. This was Sato's third appearance this season in the Firestone Fast Six.

- Scott Dixon qualified fifth, extending his streak of top-10 starts to 43.

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): "It was a gradual process during my run, but the laps weren't perfect. My last two laps were similar, but not mistake free. I am very happy for the Verizon team and I can't thank the crew enough. I made it hard for them after my practice and they had to do a lot of work. I hope we can win this one this weekend. We had a disappointing result in Edmonton, but we are coming back here. "

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified second): "The Target car was good today. We had a long day yesterday and we stayed late last night going through all the data to look where we could improve the car. We had it all together today and I just came up a tenth short. I had consistent laps. I knew it was a big gamble to not use the Firestone reds in qualifying, but if I wouldn't have made the Fast Six, Chip would have had some interesting conversations with me. That was my strategy today."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus - KV Racing Technology, qualified third): "I'm very pleased with the result today. I was able to improve each session. We tested here last week which helped me and my engineers a lot. We spent both practice sessions working on improving the car and each change we made led to more positive results. Qualifying was tough as everyone was so close in times so I am pleased we made it to the Firestone Fast Six again. For us to do it here, we needed a very balanced car and I am thankful to all my crew and hope to give them a good result tomorrow

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, qualified fourth): "That wasn't a bad result. I knew we were a top-five car, but I was hoping we were a top-three car. We barely missed it -- by less than a hundredth of a second. But, fourth is good. The competition is great in the IZOD IndyCar Series - the best it's ever been - and I'm really enjoying it."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified fifth): "The session was ok but we struggled with understeer. We dialed the car in better for the Fast Six, but we couldn't make the most of it. We seemed to be losing quite a bit to Dario on the straights, so we definitely look at that tonight to see if there is something going on with the brakes. Obviously we would have liked to have done better, improve a tenth or two and move up a couple of spots. But overall being in the Fast Six isn't too bad. The car has had some good runnings here so I am looking forward to tomorrow's race.

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified sixth): "It's great for Team Penske having Will earn the pole, which certainly shows that we have fast cars. Unfortunately for the No. 3 car, we tried everything that we could, but we came up a little short. We will look at the data tonight and I feel good about our race set-up. Tomorrow, I know that my guys will give me fast pit stops and TC (Tim Cindric) will call a great race. I am looking forward to it."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, qualified seventh): "It's a bit of a frustrating qualifying result because we know we have a quick car here and I was hoping to fight for the pole. After our spin, we had to hustle to try and get one more lap to try and make the Fast Six. After I came out of the pits, there was a car that went off in front of me, so I was watching him and being a little cautious. I didn't expect (Justin Wilson) to be driving so aggressively with the car in the grass and we just got together. It's really too bad for both of us as we were both trying to make it into the final round of qualifying. We'll be starting seventh tomorrow and I know we have a fast car and we'll have a good game plan heading into the race, so we're still looking for a strong result."

E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA -- KV Racing Technology, qualified eighth): "Our PDVSA car felt good in the session. But the grid is so tight that you can't make a little mistake. I was pushing the car so hard. I was fast enough on my final lap (in the second qualifying round to advance to the Firestone Fast Six) but I slid wide under braking at the end of the back straightaway and missed the apex. I couldn't get it back in time to get a good lap. So we'll start eighth in the race."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Meijer, qualified ninth): "I think again we were fighting too much understeer with the Meijer car. I felt like we were a little too conservative. We didn't have time to make the changes that I think would have made the difference for us today. It was nice to get into the top 12 and we'll make the best out of tomorrow's race."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic, qualified 12th): "I used up two sets of the red Firestone tires in the first round and that's why I couldn't go any fastest in Round 2 where we put on used reds for the first run and a set of primary tires for the second run. The car was sliding at the beginning and we made some changes during qualifying that made it better and I was able to get in the top-six in the first round. In the second stage, I think we made the wrong decision. We probably should have gone out with used reds again because I think they had more grip. Qualifying wasn't great but also not too bad. I think we can have a good race."

DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, qualified 13th): "I think Marco (Andretti) was slowing down to get a good lap and on that last set of tires after we pitted I just didn't get a good run. It's so close out there that if you miss it by a little bit it makes a big difference. The Panther guys have worked hard and the National Guard car seems pretty close, I just felt that we could have made that top six. It's a little unfortunate, but we'll all move together to the next phase. We've definitely improved the car over the weekend and we'll continue to do that for the race tomorrow."

BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 36 Conquest Racing RACB, qualified 15th): "I was expecting a little bit more in qualifying. The car was different with the red Firestone tires compared to the balance we had on the black tires. But still, 15th is not too bad, it's one of our better qualifying sessions this year, so that is always encouraging. We should have a good car for the race tomorrow so I'm looking forward to it."

ADAM CARROLL (No. 27 Team AFS, qualified 17th): "I can't remember the last time I qualified that low in the field. I really have nothing to blame other than myself. I still feel like I need to be in the car more. Looking at the data, I just lost it in the corners. It's just been frustrating. I have to get out there tomorrow and make up some places."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing, qualified 19th): It was really a disappointing session. We had high expectations after being very competitive during this morning's practice session. We made some big changes and unfortunately, they did not work. The car had a lot of understeer and I just couldn't improve my times, even on the red tires. Now we will just concentrate on having a good race tomorrow.

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, qualified 20th): "I don't really know what to say, but I know I'm not happy. We just don't have what we need right now. We have a lot of work to do before tomorrow and need to find some answers."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com, qualified 22nd ): "I wish we were starting further toward the front, but we just didn't have the last bit of speed we needed to move up. The GoDaddy car feels pretty good, but the field is so close that just a tenth of a second makes all the difference."

FRANCESCO DRACONE (No. 34 Conquest Racing, qualified 23rd): "As expected, it was a learning experience. I missed some of the practice this morning and that didn't help because I need as much time as I can in the car. The new aspect for me in qualifying was using the red Firestone tires. It was the first time I was driving on them so I didn't know what to expect. There's a lot to learn and I need to learn quickly. My approach for the race tomorrow will be to stay calm and consistent. I think that is key for these races. I'm very excited to be starting in my first IZOD IndyCar Series race tomorrow. I can't wait."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co/A.J. Foyt Racing, qualified 24th): "We're faster than 13th and starting 24th cause of who was in our qualifying group. We made a lot of improvements for qualifying but it wasn't enough for our group. The race is long and a lot of people fall out of the seat so there'll be opportunities to take advantage of situations."

GRAHAM RAHAL ( No. 02 National Tires & Battery): "We definitely struggled in qualifying. It wasn't any one thing. The front of the car had a ton of understeer and the rear wasn't good either. I cannot attack; I can't go faster. Then when we put red tires on it made both of those things worse. Other teams improved since Friday but we went backwards due to some decisions with the setup that didn't work. Its going to be a tough race but we're going to see if we can play with the strategy and move the National Tire & Battery car forward."

MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): "After practice this morning, we were fourth. I thought we would be in good position for the second qualifying round. But I made a slight mistake on my fast lap and we missed the second round by just a tenth or so. We have come from behind on the road courses this year to finish well. I think we can do it again on Sunday here."

***

The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 8 with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. 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. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Mid-Ohio 100 on Aug. 8 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

-source: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Takuma Sato , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Chip Ganassi , Will Power , A.J. Foyt
Teams Andretti Autosport , Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology , Dragon Racing , Conquest Racing