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Archive for April 10th, 2017

Celebrities galore visit IndyCar’s Long Beach Grand Prix

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is the place to be today as the stars and cars of the Verizon IndyCar Series mix it up with the stars of Hollywood before the start of the 43rd running of the famed street race.

In addition to University of Southern California head football coach Clay Helton, who is serving as grand marshal, and two-time Super Bowl champion Julian Edelman (New England Patriots), who is riding in the Honda Fastest Seat in Sports with racing legend Mario Andretti, the following celebrities will be on hand as guests of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers:

Guests of Marco Andretti, driver of the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda for Andretti Autosport:
•    Nina Dobrev, “Vampire Diaries”
•    Comedian Nick Swardson
•    Comedian Jeff Ross
•    Bridget Marquardt, “The Girls Next Door”

Guests of Conor Daly, driver of the No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet:
•    Chloe Grace Moretz, “Carrie”; “Let Me In”
•    Tory Belleci, “Mythbusters”; “White Rabbit Project”
•    DJ MAKJ
•    YouTube personality iJustine
•    Kevin Ray, bassist for band Walk the Moon
•    Television presenter/producer/writer Andrea Feczko

Guests of James Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda:
•    Terra Jole, “Little Women: LA”; “Dancing with the Stars” (Season 23)
•    Pierson Fodé, “The Bold and the Beautiful”
•    Singer/songwriter Leona Lewis
•    LA Galaxy player Gyasi Zardes

Mickey Mouse, star of “Mickey and the Roadster Racers,” will wave the green flag to start the race.

Earlier in the weekend, “Dancing with the Stars” professional Sharna Burgess visited with Hinchcliffe, her dance partner for Season 23 of the ABC hit show. NFL analyst Rich Eisen took a two-seater ride with Mario Andretti on Friday.

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

NHL Morning Skate for Sunday, April 9, 2017: Joe Louis Arena Farewell; Rookie Auston Matthews gets 40th goal; Toronto clinches playoff spot; Bob Miller calls final home game

WHERE WE STAND
One playoff berth, five playoff positions and two First Round matchups were decided during Saturday’s games:

* The Maple Leafs overcame a third-period deficit to defeat the reigning Stanley Cup champion Penguins and clinch the final berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

* The Blues registered a shootout win to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Central Division and set up a First Round matchup with the Wild, who have home ice as the No. 2 seed. Minnesota won the only other postseason meeting between the Blues and Wild, a six-game series in the 2015 First Round.

* The Predators locked up the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference by virtue of their regulation loss and will face the Blackhawks, owners of the No. 1 seed, in the First Round. Chicago defeated Nashville in six games in the 2010 Conference Quarterfinals and 2015 First Round, their only other postseason meetings.

* The Senators clinched the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division by virtue of their win over the Rangers. Ottawa will face either the Maple Leafs or Bruins in the First Round.

* The Sharks clinched the No. 3 seed in the Pacific Division by virtue of Edmonton’s win. San Jose will face either the Ducks or Oilers in the opening round.

* The Flames clinched the No. 1 Wild Card spot by virtue of Nashville’s regulation loss. Calgary will start the opening round on the road against either the Ducks or Oilers.

Confirmed First Round Matchups
Western Conference
(No. 1 Central) Blackhawks vs. (No. 2 Wild Card) Predators
(No. 2 Central) Wild vs. (No. 3 Central) Blues

Eastern Conference
(No. 1 Atlantic) Canadiens vs. (No. 1 Wild Card) Rangers
(No. 2 Metropolitan) Penguins vs. (No. 3 Metropolitan) Blue Jackets

Potential First Round Matchups
Western Conference
(No. 1 Pacific) Ducks OR Oilers vs. (No. 1 Wild Card) Flames
(No. 2 Pacific) Ducks OR Oilers vs. (No. 3 Pacific) Sharks

Eastern Conference
(No. 1 Metropolitan) Capitals vs. (No. 2 Wild Card) Bruins OR Maple Leafs
(No. 2 Atlantic) Senators vs. (No. 3 Atlantic) Bruins OR Maple Leafs

JOE LOUIS ARENA SET FOR FINAL NHL GAME
Henrik Zetterberg will skate in his 1,000th regular-season game when the Red Wings host the Devils in the final NHL game at Joe Louis Arena. The 36-year-old Red Wings captain, who has spent his entire career with Detroit, leads the club with 16-50—66 in 81 games this season. Current players and alumni will walk a red carpet to enter The Joe during a pre-game event, with the celebration for the “Farewell Weekend at The Joe” culminating with an hour-long “Farewell to the Joe Ceremony” immediately following the game.

SATURDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
OTTAWA 3, NY Rangers 1
PHILADELPHIA 4, Columbus 2
Washington 3, BOSTON 1
LOS ANGELES 3, Chicago 2 (OT)
NY Islanders 4, NEW JERSEY 2
WINNIPEG 2, Nashville 1
TORONTO 5, Pittsburgh 3
Montreal 3, DETROIT 2 (OT)
FLORIDA 3, Buffalo 0
St. Louis 5, CAROLINA 4 (SO)
DALLAS 4, Colorado 3 (SO)
Minnesota 3, ARIZONA 1
Edmonton 3, VANCOUVER 2
SAN JOSE 3, Calgary 1

MATTHEWS NETS 40TH GOAL AS MAPLE LEAFS CLINCH FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT
Rookies Kasperi KapanenConnor Brown and Auston Matthews each scored in the final 5:30 of regulation to help the Maple Leafs erase a 3-2 deficit and clinch the final berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 66th postseason appearance in franchise history.

* Matthews (1-1—2) scored his 40th goal of the season to move into a share of second in the NHL, four back of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (44). He is just the second Maple Leafs player to reach the 40-goal mark over the past 22 seasons, joining former captain Mats Sundin who scored 41 goals in 1996-97 and 2001-02 (82 GP in both).

* Matthews, 19, leads all rookies with 40-29—69 this season (81 GP). Elias notes that Matthews became the fourth rookie in NHL history to score 40 goals in a season before celebrating his 20th birthday, following Dale Hawerchuk (45 G in 1981-82), Sylvain Turgeon (40 G in 1983-84) and Mario Lemieux (43 G in 1984-85).

* Kapanen tied the game with his first NHL goal (16 GP), while Brown became the third Maple Leafs rookie to reach the 20-goal mark this season.

McDAVID, OILERS CONTINUE PURSUIT OF SCORING AND DIVISION TITLES
Connor McDavid notched an assist in the third period to extend his point streak to 13 games (7-16—23) and move the Oilers (46-26-9, 101 points) to within two points of the idle Ducks (45-23-13, 103 points) for first place in the Pacific Division.

* Edmonton has won 11 of its past 13 games to hit the 100-point mark for the seventh time in franchise history and first since 1986-87 (50-24-6, 106 points).

* Elias notes that McDavid is the first Oilers player to record points in at least 13 consecutive games since Esa Tikkanen had an equal run from Feb. 17 – March 15, 1989 (7-14—21). His point streak is the longest by an NHL player since Shayne Gostisbehere had 15-game run from Jan. 19 – Feb. 20, 2016 (5-13—18).

* McDavid (30-68—98 in 81 GP) leads the NHL in assists and holds a nine-point lead over Patrick Kane (34-55-89 in 82 GP) and Sidney Crosby (44-45—89 in 75 GP) in the race for the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s top point-getter. Only one Oilers player has reached the 100-point mark over the past 26 seasons: Doug Weight in 1995-96 (25-79—104 in 82 GP).

NEW FACES GUIDE PLAYOFF-BOUND CLUBS
The Capitals, Wild and Senators received winning goals from players added before or during the 2016-17 regular season:

Kevin Shattenkirk lifted the Capitals to an 11-1-1 record in their past 13 games as Washington became the second team in NHL history to register at least 55 wins in consecutive seasons. At 55-18-8 (118 points), the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals sit one victory shy of matching a single-season franchise record set in 2015-16 (56-18-8, 120 points).

Eric Staal (GWG) helped the Wild (49-25-8, 106 points) finish 2016-17 with four straight wins and franchise records for wins and points in a season. Martin Hanzal, who was acquired from the Coyotes on Feb. 26, scored against his former club to reach the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career.

Derick Brassard scored the winning goal against his former club – with assists to fellow Senators newcomers Viktor Stalberg and Alexandre Burrows – as Ottawa clinched the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division.

KINGS MOUNT COMEBACK WIN IN FINAL HOME GAME CALLED BY BOB MILLER
With play-by-play announcer Bob Miller back in the broadcast booth for the penultimate game of his Hall of Fame career, Dustin Brown tied the score with 55 seconds left in the third period and Drew Doughty tallied 27 seconds into overtime to help the Kings win their final home game of the season.

* The voice of the Kings for the last 44 years, Miller was honored with a pregame Fan Fest, on-ice logos and special warmup jerseys. Click here to watch him make his final call at STAPLES Center.

PLAYERS, CLUBS MATCH AND SET RECORDS IN SEASON FINALES
* Forward Alex Galchenyuk scored in overtime to lift the Canadiens to victory in their regular-season finale and last visit to Joe Louis Arena. Galchenyuk tied an NHL record with his fifth overtime goal of the season, equaling a mark set by Steven Stamkos in 2011-12 and matched by Jonathan Toews in 2015-16.

* Captain Blake Wheeler scored the go-ahead goal with 44.6 seconds left in regulation to help Winnipeg end the season on a seven-game win streak, establishing a new Jets/Thrashers franchise record. Wheeler capped the season with points in eight straight games (4-7—11).

* San Jose’s Brent Burns (0-1—1) recorded his 76th point of the season (29-47—76) to lead the Sharks to victory and establish a single-season franchise record for points by a defenseman.

LOOSE PUCKS
Jeff Skinner (2-0—2) scored for the 14th time in his past 13 games (14-3—17). He ranks sixth in the NHL with a career-high 37 goals this season, the most by a Hurricanes player since Eric Staal scored 40 goals in 2008-09 . . . Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel (1-1—2) scored for a fifth consecutive game (5-3—8) . . . Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr (0-2—2) reached the 30-assist mark for the 22nd time in 23 NHL seasons . . . Seth Jones scored his 12th goal of 2016-17 to match a single-season Blue Jackets franchise record for goals by a defenseman . . . Members of the Hurricanes organization surprised Bryan Bickell by participating in the 2017 MS Walk outside PNC Arena. Bickell announced on Saturday that he will retire from the NHL after Carolina’s final game . . . Kraft Hockeyville USA announced the top 10 finalists . . . Former Devils forward Patrik Elias, who announced his retirement last week, skated one last lap at Prudential Center.

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PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHL MORNING SKATE

Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville proves beneficial for Chad Finley

Chad Finley earns career-first ARCA win at Nashville
NASHVILLE (April 8, 2017) — Kyle Weatherman had the best car all night long, almost…up until four fresher General Tires got in the way. Despite a dominating performance from Weatherman, in the end, Chad Finley stepped up to earn his career-first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards victory Saturday night at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Finley, who got a lap down early on, wasn’t a factor most of the way, pitting out of sequence from the leaders for four General Tires on lap 156. The rest of the lead lap cars had already taken their final four tires just past the halfway point of the 200-lap race.
Then Finley just drove underneath Weatherman on a green-white-checker finish to win the 26th running of the Music City 200 presented by Azure Foundation.
“We weren’t our best today, but somehow we kept our heads in it, kept tuning on it and finally got the job done,” said Finley in Victory Lane. “We struggled all day. We finally got four fresh tires for the end and that made the difference.”
Finley drives for his family-owned team in the No. 51 Auto Value-Air Lift Company Chevrolet…his dad Jeff Finley the car owner and a former ARCA winner.
“This is a really big deal. We’ve been trying for so long. My dad puts his heart and soul into this. That’s all I can think about…what it means to him. That’s the best part.”
Finley was out of sequence all night, pitting four times while most of the front-runners pitted just twice. The DeWitt, Michigan driver pitted the first time for adjustments only, took two tires on the second stop and adjustments only on the third, before getting four tires on his final stop.
Weatherman, in Mason Mitchell’s No. 78 St. Charles Glass-Turn One Condos Chevrolet, dominated the night, leading 134 laps before giving it up in the end.
“I gave it everything I’ve got…it’s hard to beat four fresh General Tires,” said Weatherman. ”It’s unfortunate how this unfolded but that’s okay. I can’t thank my guys enough…they were on it all day. Congratulations to Chad. We’ll take what we got and move onto Salem.”
Christian Eckes was a factor all night, finishing a career-best third in the New York Bus Sales Toyota, but had to fight from the back after a miscue on pit road cost his team an extra pit stop.
“It was really chaotic racing out there,” said Eckes. “We had a really good car in the beginning. We had a little problem on pit road but we bounced back. Thanks to my Venturini Motorsports team…they brought a really fast car. I’m excited to go to Salem after such a good showing here.”
Austin Theriault finished fourth in the No. 52 Music City Auto Auction of Nashville Ford for Ken Schrader Racing.
“Overall, it was disappointing,” said Theriault. “We want to win and we were close tonight. We just didn’t have the grip on the bottom. Between adjustments and tires being so crucial my guys worked really hard. Tempers got a bit hot out there…we leaned on some guys and they leaned on us. All those cautions didn’t help.”
Indeed tempers flared out on the track as 11 cautions slowed the race for 95 laps. There were also a few minor skirmishes on pit road between crew members before the dust settled.
Weatherman put on a show all night, continually out-racing his immediate challengers over several double-file restarts throughout the race but couldn’t hold back Finley when it mattered most.
Local Brentwood, Tennessee favorite Mason Mingus finished a solid fifth in the No. 33 Win-Tron Racing Toyota.
“We did okay for going a lap down,” said Mingus. “Any chance I get to run an ARCA race I’m going to take it. The guys at Win-Tron never stopped working on it. I’m proud of our effort tonight.”
Sheldon Creed finished sixth in the AM Ortega Construction-United Rentals Toyota for MDM Motorsports. Newcomers Riley Herbst (NOS Energy-Terrible Herbst Toyota) and Tony Mrakovich (Ken Schrader Racing Toyota) finished seventh and eighth in their career-first ARCA starts. Dalton Sargeant was ninth in the Big Tine Ford. Zane Smith finished 10th in the Icon Vehicle Dynamics-LaPaz Toyota.
The next event for the ARCA Racing Series is the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway April 30.
Click for Race Results

 

 

RACE RECAP WRITTEN BY Don Radebaugh; COURTESY ARCA COMMUNICATIONS

3GT Racing team has productive race at BUBBA Burger Grand Prix at Long Beach

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

3GT Racing team earns best finish yet at Long Beach race


LONG BEACH, CA (April 8, 2017) – The 3GT Racing crew was busy into the night and early morning of race day for the BUBBA Burger Grand Prix at Long Beach, as they repaired the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 after a glance at the wall, early in the second practice on Friday, left the car unable to take part in qualifying.

And when the green flag fell on the 100-minute race, part of the 3-day, 43rd annual Toyota Grand Prix at Luong Beach, both Lexus RC F GT3s, No. 14 and No. 15 were at the starting line driven by Scott Pruett and Jack Hawksworth, respectively. Hawksworth had earned the second position in qualifying and because the No. 14 car had missed qualifying, Pruett started at the last, in 14th position.

Final results found the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 in sixth position in the GTD class (18th overall) and the No. 15 finished 11th in the team’s third race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“A little mistake when you’re trying hard can be costly and that’s what happened to us yesterday,” Pruett said about the incident that kept the No. 15 car from taking part in the qualifying round. “We didn’t make qualifying, we didn’t make second practice, but the guys worked all night to get the car together and here we come to finish 6. It really was a great recovery, I’m proud of the guys and proud of Lexus and this is a great program, it’s still new but we’ll just keep on building. Every race is a big learning experience.”

Pruett’s driving teammate, Sage Karam brought the No. 14 into the finish and declared the last few laps some of the most exciting of his career. Karam turned the fastest lap in the No. 14 with a time of 1:21:037 in the 26th lap.

“The most important thing is that the team worked their tails off to get the car ready to race, and we scored crucial points,” Karam said. “We got 6th place, which is our best finish yet, I couldn’t be prouder of the crew. They showed the dedication to the program by staying and getting this car repaired and ready for today. Really happy with this weekend.”

Jack Hawksworth in the No. 15, ran a strong race, including holding the lead for 5 laps. Co-pilot Robert Alon was driving the No. 15 when, in the final lap of the 1.968-mile and 11-turn street course, he found there was an incident at Turn 11.

“We always hate to be involved in any accident,” Paul Gentilozzi, 3GT Racing managing partner said. “It was a really tough race. Our guys were racing hard. We led laps and made progression with the car. We’re not, perhaps, as fast as the Mercedes, but we’re sneaking up on it. And I thought it was a very exciting race. Now we go home and lick our wounds and fix our many dents and get ready for Texas.”

Next IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race is the Advance Auto Parts Sports Car Showdown at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on Saturday, May 6.

About 3GT Racin
3GT Racing was formed to race the Lexus RC F GT3. Owned and operated by five-time Trans-Am Series Champion, Paul Gentilozzi and his longtime partners, Tony and John Gentilozzi, the East Lansing, Michigan-based team principals have been involved in motorsports for more than 46 years and they have claimed more than 75 victories and 15 manufacturer and driver championships.
RACE RECAP WRITTEN BY Brenda Brissette-Mata; COURTESY 3GT-Racing.com

 

Quotes from Saturday’s practice session at IndyCar’s Long Beach Grand Prix

“What They’re Saying” from Qualifying at Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was just one of those unfortunate things. I understand the penalty because I interfered with (Helio) Castroneves’ lap. I backed up a little to set up a second lap on the (alternate tires) and Helio was right there. I was boxed in; there was nothing I could do. The Menards Chevy was fantastic. We’ll start from the back. St. Petersburg was won from the back and we’ll try to do that, too.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Hum by Verizon Chevrolet was good enough to transfer, but we just couldn’t make it happen. It’s nothing to spend a lot of time thinking about. We just need to move on to Sunday and get to the front. The car is plenty fast. We’ll see what we can do strategy-wise and see how the cautions fall and make some decisions from there.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet): “This competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it’s so incredible. It’s ridiculous, plus every time you go into a session, it’s something different. The track changes, the tires change, traffic… It is absolutely very difficult. The crucial time when it comes, you see everybody hundredths of a second separated from each other. My car felt pretty good. Especially with the reds (Firestone alternate tires), my car came alive from this morning, so the AAA Chevy is working really hard. Today is extra special because Long Beach is a great place. I remember winning here from the pole in 2001 and, the last two years, we were right there. We’re not going to let this escape again.”

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Chevrolet): “We made big steps forward from St. Pete which is nice. We’re starting several positions higher than we did then which is good. But I’m just disappointed a little bit in myself because I went a little bit wide and just got a little bit of the marbles from the race previously on my tires off the exit of Turn 9, so lost a bit of time. I don’t know if it would have been enough to make it into the top 12. We’re still fighting a little bit of oversteer in the car so hopefully we can continue to build on what we’re doing and just have a good race tomorrow.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “Our weekend has been pretty solid. We rolled off the truck with a pretty decent car. In these weekends when it’s so tight, the track time is so limited, that’s huge. Yesterday afternoon, we had a little bit of problems. This morning we had a couple problems but we didn’t panic. Huge credit to Schmidt Peterson Motorsport. Two Firestone Fast Six appearances for two, which is great. It’s just so tight. I think that’s been the topic of the weekend, for sure, is how competitive it is. You got to be, I think, in the top six to have a shot at this thing. There’s a lot of great cars up there. Going to be perfect execution tomorrow, in the pits, on the racetrack. Hopefully, we can get the Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda to the front.”

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “Well obviously, qualifying ended early for us. Unfortunately, I think that’s all we had today. I hope that we are going to have a good car for tomorrow and a good warm up in the morning. The race is obviously the most important, so that’s what we’ll focus on and hope for good results.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “It’s been a challenging weekend so far. I know the past doesn’t predict the future, but we had a bad first practice and I said ‘Guys the street circuits, it’s always very hard once you’ve lost that momentum to get it back – you are always one step behind.’ I feel like I can drive well around here. We weren’t happy with the car after second practice so we changed a lot overnight and third practice was better. For qualifying, I was actually fairly happy with the car until I knew where I qualified and in my opinion, something wasn’t right. I felt like the job I did was on the limit without overdriving it and I was basically last. We’ve been good recently – we were P2 at Barber and P6 in Sonoma, so it doesn’t really add up to me and I think we have a bit of work to do there. Tomorrow this race is known for changing up a bit and now that they have added five laps there is a lot of fuel saving happening. If people save fuel we can just do the opposite of what the others are doing. As you saw last week, Bourdais started last in St Pete and won because he took a different strategy.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): “Yeah, bit of a bummer there but congrats to Helio. It was a hell of a lap I think he put together there. The NTT Data car actually had a lot more grip than I expected and kind of caught me off guard I think. Once I felt it I tried to go beyond it a couple of times and just made too many mistakes I think on the qualifying run. I struggled a little bit this weekend on the red tires just with straight-out speed. Unfortunately, I think we are going to be running a lot of reds tomorrow but that’s the way it will work out. But I’m definitely confident in the fact we have a great race car here, all four Ganassi cars have been strong this weekend and hopefully we will see how it plays out.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “It’s been a frustrating weekend for the NTT Data team. We had some electrical issues before the first practice session this morning that only allowed us five laps on track before qualifying. The guys worked really hard to get the car on track to maximize the little time we had left. Starting 11th is going to be a challenge with it being so difficult to pass but we will work on getting the car in the right race set up in tomorrow’s warm up session and be sure we have the best strategy to get back up front.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s a little disappointing, to be honest. We just couldn’t put together a solid lap. I’m not exactly sure what happened behind me on the thing with Simon (Pagenaud) and Helio (Castroneves). I was gearing up for a fast lap and trying to gauge the traffic in front. We came up a little short overall, and we’ll just hit the track tomorrow ready to go. The Verizon Chevy team gave me a great car and it will be awesome again tomorrow.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “We made a lot of progress from Practice 3 to qualifying, we were a little bit more competitive. We knew our qualifying group was really tough, and we barely missed it. I lost all the time in the last corner (Turn 9). I made a big mistake, we should have been in the top 12, that was our goal. But I’m positive we’ll make some changes. The car is not what I need it to be. We have to make some overnight changes. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 PennGrade Motor Oil Honda): “To be able to fight through the things we did as a single car team makes me proud because we tried some big changes overnight and they worked out.  We took ourselves from a place where we were average in terms of being competitive to a place where we were third fast overall in Round 2 of qualifying and ended up qualifying sixth based on our time in Round 3. We had an issue in Round 3 which was disappointing but based on where we were on Friday, I’m happy to have made the Firestone Fast Six. I’m pleased with the car, pleased with where we stand against the competition.  Now we just have to work on a couple of little things to improve for the race and try to get the PennGrade Honda in Victory Lane.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Trench Shoring Honda): “Qualifying was OK in Round 1 and then Round 2, we ran out of juice I guess. I thought it was a decent lap but we came out two-tenths short of making the Firestone Fast Six and not only that but when you finish 12th in Round 2 you think to yourself, we should have kept the tires! It’s obviously not the way we want to go so I’m disappointed for the group and to end up there. It’s so close, two-tenths and you’re in or you’re out. I made a small mistake and that was enough. It’s not a fun race from mid-pack and a lot of bad things can come your way. If it’s an incident-free race like last year it’s tough to make stuff happen. We’ll keep digging and see what happens.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “It’s been great work by the team. I struggled a bit this weekend but we worked hard overnight to improve the car from yesterday. The changes proved that we went in the right direction. It was a very good qualifying for me, so close to the top 12. It’s a bit frustrating, but thanks to the team for giving me the car to do that. I’m really confident for the race. I have great memories here from racing in Indy Lights two years ago, so I hope I can add to those memories tomorrow.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Throughout the weekend, I’ve just been trying to get better. Both with improving the car and also improving some things that I have been working on. It is a tough track. We made some progress in the practice this morning, but when we put the red tires on in qualifying it just wasn’t there for us. We will go back and look at everything and focus on getting quicker for tomorrow.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): “The car is actually pretty good. This morning, we ended up running a little longer on tires than other guys and were still able to maintain our lap times. I feel like the car will be solid in the race tomorrow and hopefully we can take advantage of the right opportunities along the way. We’re not that far off from being able to pick able to pick off a few guys for a single-digit finish. That is definitely in play for us, so that’s what we’re going to shoot for.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It was a disappointing qualifying today after having a good session in practice. We didn’t have a good lap – it’s just that kind of day, it’s a shame. But, I think we have a good car, so hopefully we can recover tomorrow.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): “We lucked out on transferring into Round 2 – I had a huge moment there and were lucky to not come back on the hook. So, we were lucky to transfer and missed the Firestone Fast Six by half-a-tenth (of a second). To qualify the UFD car 10th and miss Round 3 by half a tenth, it shows you what Indy car racing is all about – it’s super tight. Every hundreth (of a second) counts and it’s going to make for a great race tomorrow.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Certainly much better than last year (at Long Beach). This team has worked so hard over the offseason and we’ve all worked together – that’s the important thing – a lot of testing and we’ve definitely found a good direction now. It’s great to have this yellow and red DHL Honda back up where it belongs, back up in the sharp end of the grid, especially here at Long Beach. It’s been such a special track for me both personally and professionally. To be starting up front like this is definitely a nice surprise, it’s a nice break over what we experienced on the street courses. So far, we’re checking off the boxes. It’s a long way to go and we have a lot of work to do, tomorrow is going to be a tough race. But, the weather is beautiful here in Southern California, the fans are great, the crowd is unbelievable for a Saturday and we’ve got everybody here from DHL. Big thanks to the Andretti guys for such hard work and hopefully we can make them all proud tomorrow.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “Obviously after yesterday I am really pleased to qualify seventh today. I think we made the car a lot better overnight which showed this morning. We were able to make some more improvements for qualifying, so pretty happy with that being within a hundredth of making the Firestone Fast Six is a new version of frustrating. I’m obviously pleased I think tomorrow we should have a good car, put together clean stops a clean race through the first couple laps, and settle into a rhythm. I know my guys will get the job done really well in pit lane we just have to put the laps together and get the fuel mileage we need and see where we end up at the end of the day.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): “It was a really good day. It was the NAPA Racing team’s first (Firestone) Fast Six appearance, which is a huge turn around for Andretti Autosport and Honda from last year. I don’t think we maximized all our practice potential, so it was nice to put it out there today in qualifying. The NAPA Auto Parts car has been strong all weekend and now we can look forward to tomorrow.”

 

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