Team Chevy drivers claim top-four spots in Sonoma Fast Six

Sonoma, Calif. – For the fourth time this season, Will Power will lead the field for an IZOD IndyCar Series race to the green flag. Piloting his familiar No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power set a new qualifying record with a lap of 1:17.2709 at 111.116 m.p.h. today at Sonoma Raceway for Sunday’s running of the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. This is Power’s third consecutive pole at Sonoma.

Helio Castroneves, Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet

Photo by: Jeff Davidson

Power, who came to Sonoma leading the Series’ driver’s standings, gained one valuable championship point for winning the pole.

Team Chevy drivers claimed the top-four positions in the final qualifying order of the Firestone Fast Six at the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course. Second fastest was Ryan Briscoe, No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Sebastien Bourdais, No. 7 TrueCar/McAfee Dragon Racing Chevrolet was third fastest followed by Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet in fourth position.

A total of 15 Chevrolet IndyCar V6 drivers qualified for race 13 of the 15-race IndyCar season. Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Andretti Autosport Chevrolet was seventh fastest to give Team Chevy five of the top-10 fastest qualifiers.

Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti completed the top-six qualifiers.

The 85-lap GoPro Indy Grand Prix at Sonoma is scheduled to start on Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. ET with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.

Team Chevy post qualifying driver quotes:

Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, pole winner: “I had a feeling between Briscoe and myself, it was going to be a good battle. He was really quick. But ultimately he was ‑‑ if he hadn't made that mistake on the last corner he probably would have been on pole. But I think it's been a good track for us. Ultimately, I would say, it's been a good track for Penske.

I think that we have consistent cars here, and I can see the race is going to be pretty wide open with the way the windows work out, extending the race by ten laps. So there will probably be more passing, too. So expect a lot of action. Hopefully not with me.”

With the track changes, is this going to change the strategy that you have before all you had to do was worry about keeping someone behind you and there was a premium on qualifying? “Yeah, I think on re‑starts in (Turn) 7 there's no question it's going to be mixed up going into there. It's definitely a wider entry and more tempting for someone to make a move.

But you're allowed to block now. So that kind of helps the guy in front. We'll see, we've been to tracks where we thought that there would be no passing, and there's been heated passing. So if the car's been good and I expect there will be tomorrow.”

Ryan Briscoe, No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 2nd fastest qualifier: “We definitely unloaded strong, the car’s been good since practice yesterday and you just sort of adjust for the wind really because it has the biggest impact on the balance around this place and it’s pretty tough.

It was solid, I didn’t quite get enough out of the first lap in Q3, it’s tough when you’re on used tires to know exactly where the grip is going to by, so I was able to push a little bit harder on the second lap and repeat the time again, but the tires were still old. I’m really proud of the whole team, they prepare so well and Chevrolet as well. I’ve got a fresh engine this weekend and we’ll be ready for the race tomorrow.”

With respect to the recent track changes, what two or three things would you tell the fans to watch for tomorrow? “I think the changes, I think it's probably going to open up a bit more passing opportunities mostly in Turn 7 mostly. (Turn) 11 is risky. It's very narrow down into there. It could be tempting at times but it's still difficult to be right on someone's tail getting down there. But who knows, later in the race, but definitely (Turn) 7 I think is going to be an exciting place to watch the race from.”

Ryan, you're starting in the front row and you've got two contenders for the championship with will and Helio. So in the past there hasn't been any team orders, but what's your strategy for tomorrow? “Well, we'll try not to crash into each other, that's for sure. But how much ‑‑ how much? No. We'll race smart out there. And certainly it's a long race. I want to win the race as much as anybody. And it means a lot to me as well. So we'll see how it plays out.”

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 7 Truecar/Mcafee Dragon Racing Chevrolet, 3rd fastest qualifier: “We came a long ways, obviously, from the start of the season with all the struggles we had to go through. So the last few events you see have been getting better and better and the team has done a great job, and we definitely feel that we have a much better idea of what we need on the car and where we are at. We tested twice here, and it's definitely helped us quite a bit.

We never can find any revelations on the car, but we keep chipping away and finding little stuff. And one after the other, you get closer to these guys. It's not easy. I think everybody, most everybody in the field feels like the guys at Penske have got it all figured out, and they've been dominating all weekend so far. And I don't know what it's going to take. But we've done a pretty good lap. Hats off to the guys at Dragon. And that TrueCar/MacAfee Chevy was really good today. So hopefully we can make it stick tomorrow.”

On being with one of the smallest teams yet the past few rounds you've been rather effective in terms of speed with minimal testing? “No, it's just very proud. Obviously really happy to finally get our stuff together and be able to challenge the top guys. That's the reason why we race. And it took us more time than we would have liked to get it figured out. But better late than never. We hope to build on the momentum and hopefully we'll have another good weekend in Baltimore.”

Helio Castroneves, 3 No. Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet, 4th fastest qualifier: “This place is awesome. This up and down elevation is really fun. Certainly Team Penske knows the way around here. I think in the past, with three cars, we really trained a lot. Yesterday unfortunately we found something in the car that was really different, and I felt we did not have the performance that we had in the test a week ago. And today was just continuing a little bit of that.

But I'm happy. The conditions, the way the car, my car was running, my Penske Truck Rental car was running, it was a little bit uneasy. Especially through the crest of the hills, it was very, very difficult. So fourth actually I felt really good. We think we can win the race from there. And we just got to keep consistent out there when we go in tomorrow for the race.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 Team Dhl/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, 7th fastest qualifier: “Two of our wins came when we qualified seventh, so we know we can do it from there, but it's still frustrating to miss the (Firestone) Fast Six. We had five laps of fuel in the car, but we had trouble with the starter on pit lane, so that meant we only had time for four laps in that session.

We missed sixth by a few hundreths (of a second), so that fuel level would have made the difference in the lap time. Historically this has not been one of our best tracks, and considering how we struggled yesterday, we shouldn't be bummed by seventh. We have a lot of sponsors here with us here this weekend for Andretti Autosport, and we really want to do a good job for DHL and Sun Drop and all of the sponsors that make a difference for us."

James Hinchcliffe, No. 27 Team Godaddy.Com Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, 11th fastest qualifier: "I have to thank my guys - these guys have been slaving away trying to make this buggy quicker. We struggled in the test and we've struggled here all weekend. The gap to the front guys is just mystifying - even to be in the top 10 and be a second off the pace is just so weird. For us, given the weekend that we've had, a starting position inside the top 10 I guess is not terrible, but you know you're never happy with that.

We looked at the data and there was just something so silly in there that cost us about three-tenths of a second that would have put us behind Ryan (Hunter-Reay), up a couple more spots, and on a track where it's so hard to pass, every spot counts. We'll see how tomorrow plays out, strategy will come into it. It's a pretty good three (pit) stop race now so we'll see how these Go Daddy guys call the race for us."

Rubens Barrichello, No. 8 Bmc/Embrase Kv Racing Technology Chevrolet, 12th fastest qualifier: "I was happy that we made it through to the second round of qualifying. We made an adjustment after the first round, but the car was still on the limit. Hopefully, with a good strategy tomorrow I will be looking at a top-five finish."

Sebastian Saavedra, No 17 Afs Racing Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, 13th fastest qualifier: We have been able to do a great job so far. I thank the whole No. 17 AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport crew. It is really nice to be back in an Indy car. I am surrounded by a great team and have great teammates that I'm able to work with. We missed the Round Two window by a very close margin. We were really pushing to get in that qualifying session. It is also unfortunate that we will have the ten-position grid penalty tomorrow. However, we will keep focused during the race and see what plays out."

Marco Andretti, No. 26 Team Rc Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, 14th fastest qualifier: " We had a good lap going, but I got blocked in the last turn. We just had a drivers meeting where they said the driver would be penalized for doing something like that, but it didn't happen. We've had top-ten pace all weekend, so I think we can move forward in the race. The positive thing about missing the second qualifying session is that we have an extra set of (Firestone) Reds for the race, which could be a big advantage. The race is 10 laps longer this year, so that means three (pit) stops, and we can be more strategic about the race tomorrow."

Jr Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet, 17th fastest qualifier: “The guys did a great job to make some changes from practice, we were definitely struggling with a few things when practice ended. I think we did a good job making some incremental improvements and adjusting for the red tire. I think I probably over drove my lap a little bit and that probably cost us a couple of tenths.

Obviously for me being here at my home track is definitely frustrating, but we’ve made some improvements and we have a clear direction what we need to continue to improve to make the car good in the race. We’ve seen throughout practice that tire ware is a big factor and we’ll be heading into the race with an extra set of sticker reds than a lot of the cars in front of us, so that a little bit of silver lining.

“I think tomorrow’s race is going to be tough. We haven’t seen quite as many cars go soaring off the track here as we normally do during practice, but that’s still not out of the equation. The tires that Firestone has given us here have a significant peak right at the beginning of the runs. Even the black tire, the primary tire, goes off pretty significantly as we go through.

I think that could create a lot of marbles off line, and this place is easy to make mistakes on especially since tomorrow’s race will be in the heat of the day. It’s going to be about being as mistake free as possible and taking care of the tires. Pretty much everyone is going to be on a three stop strategy so that takes the strategy out the equation a little, so we’re going to have to get creative. We’ve made some improvements to the car and if we can continue doing that we should be in good shape.”

Tony Kanaan, No. 11 Mouser Electronis/Geico Kv Racing Technology Chevrolet, 18th fastest qualifier: “I had a solid first timed lap and the car felt good. On my next lap I was running three tenths of a second faster, but I got blocked going into turn four. That pretty much ended any chance of getting into the second round of qualifying. We will just have to see what we can make happen in the race tomorrow.”

E.J. Viso, No. 5 Citgo/PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, 19th fastest qualifier: “Coming to this race track, which I really like, this is not the way I expected qualifying to go. I believe today’s result happened because of the issues we had in both the practice sessions prior to qualifying. In yesterday’s practice we had a mechanical problem that affected the fuel pressure and this morning we had a non-team related software problem that affected the clutch.

Since we did not test here last week, did not get any productive practice laps and never even ran on new tires, we went into qualifying with a car we did not know. It was an extreme and difficult situation however I have a lot of faith that we can still have a good race.”

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Premium Ultra Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, 27th in practice: “It’s funny. There are some things we weren’t happy with the car and other things that felt better. We were in the second group which seemed to be a stronger bunch in the first round of qualifying.

We were faster than a few cars in the first group but we’ll have to start behind them due to the starting grid rules. It’s encouraging that we closed the gap with the leaders each session. So I think we are improving the car here. We have been more competitive here than other tracks, but it stinks that we have to start behind some cars that are slower. We’ll wait and see how the lineup fares after the Sunday warm-up and engine changes.

Source: Team Chevy

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Rubens Barrichello , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Will Power , James Hinchcliffe , Sebastian Saavedra , Ed Carpenter
Teams Andretti Autosport , Panther Racing , Team Penske , KV Racing Technology , Dragon Racing
Article type Qualifying report
Tags barrichello, bourdais, briscoe, castroneves, chevrolet, chevy, firestone, hinchicliffe, hunter-reay, indycar, kanaan, power, saavedra