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‘Motor Sports’ Articles

Will Power for sixth straight year at Mid-Ohio starts in a spot he owns, the pole

Will Power IndyCar (2014 photo by SarahStierch via wikipedia commons)

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Saturday, July 29, 2017) – Will Power will start from the front row in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio for the sixth straight year on Sunday after claiming the Verizon P1 Award in Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power’s best lap of 1 minute, 4.1720 seconds (126.672 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six was enough to earn his third pole position at Mid-Ohio, his fifth pole this season and the 49th of his Indy car career – tying the 2014 series champion with Bobby Unser for fourth on the all-time list.

“The Verizon car was really hooked up,” Power said. “Before qualifying, we made a few changes and kind of got it in the window. Really happy for all the guys, especially here. You’ve got to start at the front here; it’s really, really difficult to pass, so (winning pole is) giving us the best chance to win tomorrow.”

HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO: Qualifying results

Power, who has yet to win a race at Mid-Ohio, was among three Team Penske drivers to advance to the Firestone Fast Six, the last of three knockout qualifying rounds. Joining the 36-year-old Australian on the front row in Sunday’s 90-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road course will be teammate Josef Newgarden, who qualified second in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.3067, 126.407 mph).

“I think we did a good job today,” Newgarden said. “The boys on the (No.) 2 car gave me everything I needed with a fast car. It’s been pretty good all weekend.

“It’s always tough to get pipped by your teammate by just a little bit, but ultimately it’s a good day for us on Team Penske. We have two cars up there on the front row.”

Takuma Sato, winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 in May, qualified third in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (1:04.6792, 125.679 mph). Graham Rahal, who was fastest in his group in each of the first two qualifying segments, finished fourth in the Firestone Fast Six with a lap of 1:04.7959 (125.452 mph) in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver won at his home Mid-Ohio track in 2015.

“A good qualifying session for us,” said Rahal, the Ohio native. “It was a shame that in (the Firestone Fast Six), I frankly just messed up. I didn’t have Power’s speed, but I kind of threw it away early in the lap and that was that. Disappointed, at the same time we showed we’ve got the pace. Hopefully tomorrow we can work from fourth.”

Helio Castroneves, a two-time Mid-Ohio winner (2000, 2001), qualified fifth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.8485, 125.351 mph). Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon extended his streak of reaching all seven Firestone Fast Six sessions this season and qualified sixth in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda (1:05.1927, 124.689 mph). Points leader Dixon takes a three-point edge over Castroneves into the race.

Defending Mid-Ohio race winner and 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud missed advancing to the Firestone Fast Six by less than five-hundredths of a second and will start seventh in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.

“I’m surprised that we didn’t get in (the Firestone Fast Six) because it felt like a good lap and I put everything I had in it,” Pagenaud said.

Conor Daly advanced past the first segment of knockout qualifying for the first time this season and will start 11th in the No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. Alongside Daly in Row 6 will be Esteban Gutierrez, whose 12th-place showing in the No. 18 UNIFIN Honda is his best qualifying effort in six races with Dale Coyne Racing.

Tony Kanaan originally advanced from Round 1, Group 1 but was penalized for causing a local yellow that impeded other drivers’ laps. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver spun sideways in Turn 2 on his final lap, forcing other drivers to slow as he corrected the car to continue on track. The automatic penalty levied by INDYCAR is loss of the driver’s fastest lap to that point, which prevented Kanaan from advancing.

A final 30-minute warmup practice is set for 11:15 a.m. ET Sunday and will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Live coverage of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, the 13th of 17 races on the 2017 schedule, starts at 3 p.m. on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. An encore presentation of the race airs at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.

Mazda Road to Indy recap

Santi Urrutia, who lost the 2016 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship by two points, notched his first win of the 2017 season in today’s first race of the Mid-Ohio weekend doubleheader. Starting from the pole, the Belardi Auto Racing driver beat Colton Herta (Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing) across the finish line by 0.4812 of a second. Urrutia is the seventh different driver to win a race this season in the top level of the Mazda Road to Indy development series.

Victor Franzoni (Juncos Racing) kept the intense battle for the Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires championship going by winning today’s second race of a weekend tripleheader at Mid-Ohio. Franzoni passed Anthony Martin (Cape Motorsports) with four laps to go and hung on to win by 0.4828 of a second. Franzoni takes a five-point lead over Martin into the third race on Sunday.

In the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport) led wire to wire to capture his third win in the past four races, in the conclusion of the series’ weekend doubleheader. Rinus VeeKay finished second for Pabst Racing, which clinched the team championship for the Wisconsin-based outfit. Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports) finished fourth and saw his points lead dwindle to 13 over VeeKay with one race remaining at Watkins Glen International on Sept. 3.

 

PRACTICE RECAP WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

Quotes from Saturday’s IndyCar practice at Mid-Ohio

“What They’re Saying” from Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio qualifying

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “Honestly, I’m a little surprised we didn’t make the (Firestone) Fast Six. It felt like a good lap in the Menards Chevy, but we came up a little short. I put everything I had in it. That’s racing. That’s INDYCAR racing. We’re all fighting for hundredths of a second. I think we have a good car for the race. We’ll line up tomorrow and see what happens.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet):“Starting second tomorrow is awesome. The No. 2 PPG Chevrolet is really strong for tomorrow’s race at Mid-Ohio. The team has been really working hard this weekend and it’s paying off. We can’t wait for tomorrow’s race to put on a great show for the crowd here.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “That was a lot of fun. Everything was so close. INDYCAR racing is down to the centimeters now. We calculated about three laps would be perfect. But because of those 15 seconds that we stayed in the pits, it basically cost us a third lap on the second set of tires, so we didn’t have enough time to complete that. And I got caught in (Turns) 4, 5 and 6, which is a fast area. We lost a bunch of lap time. Regardless of that, thought the Hitachi Chevy was really strong. Congrats to Will (Power). We’ll just keep digging.”

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Obviously it’s really good for us. I think it’s just a nice thing after the year that we’ve had, it’s nice to have a good qualifying session. The car has been improving, you know. We haven’t had the results to show it yet, but I think this is at least a good step forward for us. We need a race like this where we just sit in the top 10, top 11, top 12, whatever, the whole time so hopefully we can fight from there tomorrow and make up some ground.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “A bit of a disappointing day to be honest. The Arrow car has been top six pretty much every single session when you put all the pieces together, and the challenge here in qualifying is getting that lap and putting all the pieces together. Unfortunately we ran into some guys that were gapping pretty disrespectfully and not giving everybody the room that was needed; when there are only 12 cars on track, it’s pretty crazy that we can’t all find a gap. We got caught out by that today. It happens, it’s part of racing. No doubt we had the speed to be in the Firestone Fast Six. Hopefully that bodes well for tomorrow, and we can move up and put the Arrow Electronics car in victory lane.”

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda):
“Qualifying last was definitely not what we were expecting. I think part of it is me getting back into my rhythm after missing the last race weekend in Toronto. Of course it would be nice to qualify at the top, but the most important thing is to finish the race. We all know what can happen here at Mid-Ohio. The people who have seen last year’s race will know what I mean. We just need to continue to push forward and do well, and I’m pretty sure we are going to have a competitive race car for tomorrow.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “Practice session one was really good for the Gallagher team, but we started chasing the setup like a wild goose after that for some reason. I think we’re struggling as a team a bit too. Three of us didn’t get through, and Scott (Dixon) wasn’t exactly blistering out there, but he did make it. It’s strange because this is my kind of track. I hope we can sort something out or it’s going to be a bit of a long day tomorrow.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): “It wasn’t the best day for us. We’ve been chasing the same issue since the test here last week. The car is really loose on entry and really has understeer. Hopefully we can figure out what’s going on. It was a good day for Honda overall with the qualifying results.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “I was overcompensating for the grip we don’t have and pushing it too hard out there. We need to do a better job of setting the car up – it just wasn’t there today. I shouldn’t be pushing the car to the max to make up for what’s not there in the setup. It’s going to be really difficult starting in the back here with how hard it is to pass, but we’re going to do everything we can to get up to the front.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet):
“I’m really excited for this pole. The No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet crew has really been on it all weekend here at Mid-Ohio. I’m ready for tomorrow’s race with what we feel is a really strong car.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was a tough one. On the blacks (Firestone primary tires) we were looking pretty strong, but then on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) we didn’t gain where we should gain on the red tires. It was hard to qualify in the top 12 for my group. I think my group was quite tough. It is what it is. Tomorrow I think we have to go strategy-wise really aggressive. Here at this track it’s hard to pass. We have to go aggressive on the strategy and see if it pays off. Last year, I did an aggressive strategy and it paid off, so we will see this year.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda)
: “To have the Steak ‘n Shake Honda be the fastest overall in qualifying is special, but we would have liked to be on pole. I messed up on my best lap in Segment 3, and obviously the two rounds before I put it all together, but when it counted we lost a lot in the last turn, in Turn 12, on the very start of the final lap. I don’t know if we had enough on used reds (Firestone alternate tires). Power was on used reds too, but I don’t think I had that sort of time in me. But we were definitely better than fourth, so I’m a little disappointed in fourth place. I lost four-tenths in one corner alone, and then on the last lap I almost lost it. It’s great for our team and program to be up front once again. We’ve got a good starting spot and hopefully can battle from there. Last year you saw with the three-stopper that a lot of guys were on reds, even if they were used, they were preferred. This year it’s a new tire, so we haven’t run them a full stint yet. We’re in a really good spot in terms of tires. We didn’t use any new blacks (Firestone primary tires), and Helio (Castroneves) used two sets in qualifying. So I thinking tomorrow morning we can use a set and then we can have a heyday in the race and run whatever we want.”

ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): “It was very exciting to try to explore and to keep experimenting with the car. Obviously, this is a new track for me. It was challenging to find the right set up. We’ve been working hard as a team to find the sweet spot. I think we managed a good balance until we got to the last run when the track changed. The track is evolving very quickly and you need to keep up with that balance. It was the first time we were in that session, so we missed something to anticipate and to keep up with the balance, but I think it was a good experience. It’s my first time into the fast 12 and it was very interesting. The team did a good job and it’s our best qualifying so far, so we’re making progress and that makes me happy.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda):
“It was a tough qualifying session overall. We got slowed down a bit by a car in front of us on my last laps, and then the car just got loose and I wasn’t able to improve my lap time at the end to move up the charts.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet):
“We knew going into qualifying that we were in a really hard group. There’s so many good guys up and down pit lane. I feel like it was a pretty good lap on my part, we just ended up missing a little bit in the end. We closed the gap to the fastest cars yet again, but there were just a bunch of people super close as usual. We’ve been looking for a bit more front grip all weekend. We’ve been getting better and better, but that’s one thing that if we can fix it, it will raise our speeds quite a bit. The Fuzzy’s Vodka car is really good though, especially on the longer runs, so we’re looking forward to racing tomorrow.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet):
“The Fuzzy’s Vodka guys are doing a good job. The car doesn’t feel that bad to drive, we just don’t seem to have a lot of speed in it. It’s frustrating because this is a track I really like and the team’s been good here in the past. We just can’t manage to get much better lap times out of it. It’s disappointing, but we’ll continue plugging away at it for the rest of the weekend.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “[Qualifying was] very good. The team work extremely well with the four cars and we were very competitive for all the practice sessions. I’m extremely happy with the performance of the Ruoff Home Mortgage car. I think the team has reached a good setup. I think a P3 is very happy place for us and a good position for the race tomorrow.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): “(Group 2) was definitely a tough group, but we needed to beat everybody anyway – that was the goal. The car just didn’t turn enough for us to get there. We basically qualified our race car, I think, and were a bit too conservative (for qualifying). We started the weekend really good – within a couple hundredths of the quick time in Practice 1, but we’ve gone back a bit which is obviously not the goal.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We just lost some grip in the car this afternoon. Things were obviously promising after yesterday’s session and leading the way, but coming into today and the morning session we had promise in the DHL car. We lost a little bit of where we were and tried to retrace our steps. In the end, we had an imbalance in the car and just missed it a bit. We didn’t quite have what I needed to get into the (Firestone) Fast Six. Here in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it all adds up. If you’re off just a little bit in the car it can make a big difference.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “Pretty disappointed honestly. We made some big improvements this morning and then we seemed to lose our way a little bit this afternoon. We were within like three-hundredths of transferring through to the top 12, which would’ve given us another shot to make the car better. I know there’s more in it for tomorrow, but we missed it a little bit, I missed it a little bit. The nice thing is that we have two sets of Firestone alternates (tires), sticker alternates, plus the scrubbed set from qualifying to use tomorrow. We just need a little bit of strategy and I think we have every opportunity to finish up front.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda): “I’m pretty disappointed to miss the (Firestone) Fast Six after running so well this morning. We just went the wrong direction with a change in session and it hurt us in the end. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we have a fast race car so we’ll work to get up front tomorrow.”

 

Saturday’s IndyCar practice results from Mid-Ohio: Power, Newgarden and Sato on top

 

Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio qualifying results

Click HERE to view and download the official qualifying results of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Qualifying Saturday for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:04.1720 (126.672)
2. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:04.3067 (126.407)
3. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:04.6792 (125.679)
4. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:04.7959 (125.452)
5. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:04.8485 (125.351)
6. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:05.1927 (124.689)
7. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:04.3008 (126.418)
8. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:04.3784 (126.266)
9. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:04.4906 (126.046)
10. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:04.4928 (126.042)
11. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:04.8745 (125.300)
12. (18) Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 01:05.0368 (124.988)
13. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 01:04.9930 (125.072)
14. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:04.5929 (125.847)
15. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 01:05.0337 (124.994)
16. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:04.6186 (125.797)
17. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 01:05.3200 (124.446)
18. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 01:04.8603 (125.328)
19. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 01:05.3382 (124.411)
20. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 01:04.9440 (125.166)
21. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:05.2441 (124.591)

 

PRACTICE RESULTS WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

IndyCar’s Ryan Hunter-Reay continues recent hot streak by leading Friday practice at Mid-Ohio

Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Friday, July 28, 2017) – Ryan Hunter-Reay continued his recent surge, setting the pace on the first day of practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The Andretti Autosport driver was fastest in the second of two 45-minute sessions on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a lap of 1 minute, 4.2961 seconds (126.428 mph) in the No. 28 DHL Honda. Hunter-Reay is hopeful it bodes well for a strong showing in Sunday’s race.

“Today, it was a good run. Car was good,” said the 36-year-old Floridian, whose best finish in 11 previous races at Mid-Ohio was third place on two occasions, including 2003 when he logged the first of what are now 37 career podium finishes.

HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO: Practice 1Practice 2 Combined practice results

“We just made some improvements on it, made the right steps through the session, some (changes) session to session,” said Hunter-Reay, who has finished third (Iowa Speedway) and sixth (streets of Toronto) in the past two races. “We didn’t test here a week ago, so it’s nice to see we have the pace from last year, that we were able to roll in and improve from last year.”

Three Verizon IndyCar Series championship contenders trailed Hunter-Reay on the day’s time sheet. Josef Newgarden was second at 1:04.4375 (126.150 mph) in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing was third in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda (1:04.4910, 126.045 mph) and Simon Pagenaud fourth in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.5625, 125.906 mph).

Dixon leads the standings after 12 of 17 races. The four-time series champion is three points ahead of Helio Castroneves, 19 in front of reigning series champion and 2016 Mid-Ohio winner Pagenaud and 23 up on Newgarden.

“I think it’s a good start for the No. 9 NTT Data car,” Dixon said. “Finishing P3 overall today isn’t bad, but you always want to be at the top at the end of the day. I love racing here, I love Mid-Ohio and all its challenges. I hope we can continue to improve tomorrow and put on a good show Sunday.”

Both practice sessions ran issue-free other than light rain that brought all cars to pit lane for 15 minutes in the afternoon practice. A final pre-qualifying practice is scheduled for 9:55 a.m. ET Saturday (live stream on RaceControl.IndyCar.com), ahead of Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying to determine the pole winner at 2 p.m. (live on NBCSN).

Sunday’s race will be the 33rd for Indy cars on the scenic, undulating permanent road course since 1980. Live coverage begins at 3 p.m. on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with an encore re-air at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.

Sato named recipient of prestigious Prime Minister’s Award in Japan

The honors keep coming for Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato.

Today in his native Japan, the Andretti Autosport driver was named the recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for his groundbreaking victory May 28 in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500, outlasting three-time winner Helio Castroneves in a thrilling battle to the finish. The 40-year-old will return home to officially be presented with the award by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Aug. 4.

“It means a lot personally but I think it’s great for the sport,” Sato said. “I really appreciate the support I am getting and this award is certainly an absolute honor to have it. I just couldn’t be happier.”

Sato is just the 33rd recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award, an appropriate number since 33 cars traditionally compete in the Indianapolis 500.

Season champion to be honored in NBCSN prime-time telecast

INDYCAR is helping its loyal fans share in the celebration crowning the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion with an hour-long program airing in prime time Sept. 28 on NBCSN.

The show will honor the driver and team who win this year’s title, as well as other award winners, and include a recap of this riveting season that has already seen nine different drivers win in the first 12 races. It is part of an extensive INDYCAR plan to properly fete the 2017 champion.

INDYCAR and NBCSN are also increasing promotion of the championship battle – which currently sees the top four drivers in the standings separated by a mere 23 points – in the races leading to the season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 18.

“The battle for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship has been decided in the final laps of the season for the past 11 years running, and we expect that to be the case again in 2017,” said C.J. O’Donnell, chief marketing officer for INDYCAR. “We have a comprehensive promotional plan that will heighten the excitement and anticipation in the remaining few races. Our broadcast and communications strategy provides a solid platform to champion our heroes and thrill our fans.”

The Astor Cup, the century-old trophy that has been presented to the Verizon IndyCar Series champion annually since 2011, will travel to the three races before the finale – the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 20, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline at Gateway Motorsports Park on Aug. 26, and the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on Sept. 3. The Astor Cup will be on display at those events for fans to see and to serve as an inspiration for the contending drivers.

The 2017 champion will also embark on a national media tour at the conclusion of the season. The INDYCAR community will honor this year’s champion driver and team in a March 2018 event at St. Petersburg, Florida, that will serve to commemorate the 2017 award winners while at the same time ringing in the beginning of the exciting new season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Mazda Road to Indy recap

Oliver Askew led every lap to win the first of two Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda races this weekend at Mid-Ohio and extend his points lead. Askew, driving for Cape Motorsports, won by 1.3282 seconds over Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport) and 1.9339 seconds over Rinus VeeKay (Pabst Racing). Askew leads VeeKay by 29 points with two races remaining this season.

Anthony Martin grabbed the lead on the opening lap and drove on to victory in the first of three Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires races this weekend. Martin (Cape Motorsports) edged Victor Franzoni (Juncos Racing) by 0.3847 of a second at the finish, moving five points ahead of Franzoni for the championship lead in the procress.

Santi Urrutia (Belardi Auto Racing) won the pole position for the first of two Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races this weekend with a lap of 1:11.3694 (113.898 mph). Colton Herta (Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing) qualified second for Saturday morning’s race (1:12.0283).

 

PRACTICE RECAP WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

Quotes from Friday’s IndyCar practice at Mid-Ohio

“What They’re Saying” from Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio practice

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Menards Chevy was good today. We were able to fine tune a few things throughout the day. We had good speed in the car, but it’s a matter of getting the balance right. Our knowledge base is good for the track. We had good success a year ago. It’s nice for me to feel better physically this year. I had a little tweak of my back here last year that made it a pretty difficult weekend, but this year all is well. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. It’s such a chess match here and that’s a fun challenge.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think we had a pretty good session. It’s fun driving the PPG car. It’s my first time driving it. Simon (Pagenaud) had a lot of good luck in it last year. I think he won three races in this car. I’m excited to drive it – looks good, feels fast. We were quick in the first session, too. We ended up seventh. But this track is such a game of when you run, you know, where in the tire life you are at what stage of the session. The track just keeps getting quicker and quicker as you run. You got to be the last man standing here almost. I think that’s going to be the case tomorrow in qualifying. You got to try and time everything as best you can, be the last person across the line. For us, I think we’ve had some good success this year on road courses. We probably could have had even more success at a couple other places that didn’t fully materialize. But I think we’re there, thereabouts. I think the whole group at Team Penske is fast. We have to make sure to stay on top of it as always and not let something good slip away. We have good cars this weekend. We have to try to capitalize on that.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet):
“We accomplished a lot today with the Hitachi Chevy – lots of good data to help us make the car even better. It’s important in this series to keep working at it. If you don’t, then you get passed by. I feel good about how the car was today and how it will be tomorrow. Qualifying is extremely important here, so we’ll have to be on top of our game.”

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I think we found a few things that we need, but we also weren’t able to take advantage of our (Firestone alternate) red tires as well as we would have liked. I think the car’s balance is a little bit different on the reds than on the (Firestone primary) blacks, so hopefully we can try and sort that out. But I think it’s a positive day for us. It’s close, it’s very, very close. We need two-tenths to be in the top 10, so that’s very typical of Mid-Ohio, so hopefully, we can get some of that out of it.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “Typical day in INDYCAR today really for the team. We were right up there today in the first practice this morning after unloading fast, and then made some changes and weren’t up there in the afternoon. That’s how close the racing is here. One change can send you back. I do like this track as it’s very challenging. The Gallagher team will be up for qualifying tomorrow.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda):
“I think it’s a good start for the No. 9 NTT Data car. Finishing P3 overall today isn’t bad, but you always want to be at the top at the end of the day. I love racing here. I love Mid-Ohio and all its challenges. I hope we can continue to improve tomorrow and put on a good show Sunday.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “Honestly, we didn’t have near as bad of a day as it looks in the practice results. We still have some work to do with the No. 10 NTT Data Honda on (Firestone alternate) red tires, but on the (Firestone primary) blacks we were as fast as the leaders. We just couldn’t ever get a clean, fast lap on black tires to show the No. 10 NTT Data Honda’s real speed.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good day for the Verizon Chevrolet team. We felt like we’re in a good place in terms of spend and balance. Mid-Ohio is a track that is on my list. I’ve not gotten a win here and I really want to change that. We’ve been on the pole here, been up front and led laps, but haven’t gotten the win. We’ll see what qualifying brings tomorrow, but you don’t want to be too far back here or it becomes very difficult to get into position to win.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
“The second session was a little bit of a mess. I think we did just one run because we had some electrical issues in the car, so the first part of the session we were just figuring out what happened there. Then we put (Firestone alternate) red tires on and it started raining, and then the last few laps, the tires weren’t the same. So we have to look to tomorrow to still improve.” (About his overall day): “It’s hard to judge. When the session didn’t go nice and smooth, the thing is we’re still missing a little bit to be in the top 10.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda) : “We are lacking some performance. Even this morning that was the case.” (About setting the second fastest lap time in Practice 1): “We ran new tires at the very end of the session and certain guys didn’t. While we were up there on the lap times, perhaps we were putting a Band-Aid on the situation a little bit. With that being said, I don’t think we are far off. I have got to somehow figure out how to get the rear of the car under control. It’s been biting us on a lot of road courses. We just can’t seem to figure it out. We have to work hard tonight and improve the Steak ‘n Shake car for tomorrow.”

ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): “It was a bit tricky in Practice 1 this morning. We struggled to find some speed. We then made some changes for Practice 2 and that was a positive change. We did a pretty fast time on the primary tires, but then on the Firestone red (alternate) tires, I got traffic on the optimum lap so we couldn’t really put the lap together there. I think we have a good baseline and we’ll work tonight to try and find some more speed for tomorrow.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “It was a bit frustrating. I think there’s a lot more potential than our result on the time charts today. We tried a few things and they didn’t go the way we wanted. There was also some traffic and the bit of rain that delayed the session that didn’t help. I think we need to make some changes to the car for tomorrow, and if we get things right, we can be right up in the top 10.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “We definitely made some changes that were positive and had a solid morning practice session. We also tried some things that just didn’t work out as well as we hoped, especially on the (Firestone alternate) red tires in the afternoon. I didn’t get quite the feel of the car I was looking for, so we’ll see if we can revert back to what we had and get back into the top 10. I’m excited to see what the rest of the weekend brings.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet):
“We definitely didn’t have the speed we were looking for today, so it was a bit frustrating. We understand where we need to improve and we’ve got a lot of data to look through. We’ll put our heads together tonight to figure out how to make as much use out of the practice session tomorrow morning before we qualify.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “I think it was a productive day. As typical at Mid-Ohio, we started off around five seconds off the pace, and then through the session it dramatically improved for the track evolution. We need to understand the balances better, but I think we made some good progress today for the Ruoff Home Mortgage team. Hopefully, we carry on this momentum and have a good day tomorrow.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): “Today was a good start for the No. 27 team, but we need to make some fine adjustments if we want to qualify in the (Firestone) Fast Six tomorrow. Overall, the whole team showed good pace, so I think we are on the right track.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Today, it was a good run. Car was good. We just made some improvements on it, made the right steps through the session, some session-to-session. We didn’t test here a week ago, so it’s nice to see we have the pace from last year, that we were able to roll in and improve from last year. All in all, pretty good day. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow. We know everybody else is going to be improving. It’s amazing if you look at the Practice 1 session times, just how close everything is. There’s no margin for error. So it’s going to be that way again tomorrow. Just happy to have a nice, productive day. Look forward to another one of those tomorrow hopefully.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “Overall it wasn’t a good day at all for the No. 83 car. We missed the setup a little bit and we missed the timing. We really could’ve used that little bit of track time we lost this afternoon with the rain to get the car a little better. The nice thing is that the No. 9 car is quick, so we’ll have their data to learn from. I’m really encouraged by the stops in pit stop practice – the guys really crushed it today. We’ll carry that momentum forward to figure out what we need to do to qualify well tomorrow and finish up front on Sunday.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda):
“It was a good day today. I think we made a pretty good step forward each session in terms of car setup. I’m missing a little bit of speed compared to Ryan (Hunter-Reay), but I think we know where that is. Overall, I think it was a pretty positive day for the whole team and we will have a strong showing tomorrow for qualifying.”

 

PRACTICE QUOTES WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

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