Honda first, Castroneves' Chevrolet is second
In a qualifying session that saw several surprises, one driver rose above them all. Simon Pagenaud (in photo) drove his Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Honda around the 1.634-mile NRG Park Stadium Circuit with a fastest lap of 59.3716 seconds, nipping fellow front-row starter Helio Castroneves. Third was Scott Dixon.
Series returnee Luca Filippi returns to the scene of his last IndyCar race with a fourth place effort in qualifying while hometown team hero Takuma Sato, driving for AJ Foyt qualified sixth.
The major surprise of qualifying was Will Power. After setting one of the fastest times in practice yesterday, Power’s team missed the setup and he ended up 18th on the grid, not even advancing from the first round of qualifying.
The first round of qualifying was notable in that only one rookie advanced from it. Mikhail Aleshin managed to wheel his car to a 10th place qualifying run.
Pagenaud was high on his teammate for how well they have shared information.
“Mikhail has been a great addition to the team with his engineer and on my team we’ve been together for three years and it’s important to share information like this when you have a good driver like Mikhail. I feel we are very complete as a team,” Pagenaud said.
Castroneves was pragmatic about his result.
“This is the kind of place that you want to start in the front because it’s a very tough track to pass on, but you still have to finish. We’ve got to move on, [it was a] good result, but [we] only have a few seconds to enjoy this front row and think about in a few hours we’re going to start racing,” Castroneves said.
This was Pagenaud’s first ever Verizon P1 award.
Chevrolet-powered cars took second, third and ninth -- the rest of the top 10 were Hondas. Twenty-two of the 23 starters will begin the race on alternate tires -- the exception is Sabastian Saavedra, who starts from 20th on the primary tire.
Verizon IndyCar Series
Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by Greater Houston Honda Dealers Race 1
HOUSTON - Qualifying Saturday for the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.634-mile(s) MD Anderson Cancer Center Speedway at NRG Park, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:
1. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 59.3716 (99.078)
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 59.4463 (98.953)
3. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 59.5034 (98.858)
4. (16) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Honda, 59.5523 (98.777)
5. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 59.6528 (98.611)
6. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 01:00.4037 (97.385)
7. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 59.4245 (98.989)
8. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 59.5107 (98.846)
9. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 59.6126 (98.677)
10. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 59.7003 (98.532)
11. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 59.9649 (98.097)
12. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 01:00.0312 (97.989)
13. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.1291 (97.830)
14. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 01:00.2491 (97.635)
15. (8) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.2124 (97.694)
16. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 01:00.3295 (97.505)
17. (20) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.2358 (97.656)
18. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.3670 (97.444)
19. (18) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 01:00.3106 (97.535)
20. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.4224 (97.355)
21. (98) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 01:00.4203 (97.358)
22. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.6919 (96.922)
23. (34) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 01:00.4734 (97.273)