Sato Wins Pole In St. Pete

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 29 2014

Takuma Sato of A.J. Foyt Racing will start the 2014 season from the pole. (File photo courtesy of the Verizon IndyCar Series)

Takuma Sato, back for a second year with A.J. Foyt Racing, won the pole for Sunday’s IndyCar Series season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Saturday.

Sato, a native of Japan, had the fastest lap in the Fast Six porton of qualifying to earn the Verizon P1 Award.

Driving the Honda-powered No. 14 ABC Supply car, Sato earned his second career pole in the series. His pole-winning lap was at 1 minute, 1.8686 seconds on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course.

“Over the course of the winter, we did really extensive winter test program,” said Sato, who started second and finished eighth at St. Pete last year. “Everything worked out really well. We had a strong package last year here, but obviously there are quite a few changes on the car: tires, twin turbo engine. To come this weekend, qualifying, very dramatic weather change as well. Very pleased the league and promoters make possible for the qualifying session this evening because otherwise I would have to start middle of the pack (based on final 2013 entrant points).”

Tony Kanaan will open his first season at Chip Ganassi Racing by starting on the outside of the front row at St. Pete. He had a second-fastest lap that was .2951 of a second back behind Sato.

Kanaan will be in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car – the car which had been driven by Dario Franchitti in recent years.

“I think it has been like three years since I have been in the top six,” said Kanaan, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner. “It feels really good. I can’t thank the Target Chip Ganassi Racing guys enough. A lot of people made a lot of comments over the years because we struggled so much in qualifying on street and road courses and nobody was counting on that. I like to be the element of surprise. Nobody was talking about us at Indy last year and nobody was talking about this weekend.”

Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, had earned the pole the previous four years. He’ll start fourth alongside Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Reigning champion Scott Dixon will start fifth and Marco Andretti will start sixth. He has started sixth or seventh in the past five years at St. Pete.

Qualifying Saturday for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.8-mile(s) St Petersburg Street Circuit, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.8686 (104.738)

2. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 01:02.1637 (104.241)

3. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 01:02.2167 (104.152)

4. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 01:02.3955 (103.854)

5. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 01:02.4454 (103.771)

6. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 01:02.9595 (102.923)

7. (34) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 01:03.3955 (102.215)

8. (98) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 01:03.5738 (101.929)

9. (8) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 01:03.6206 (101.854)

10. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 01:03.6635 (101.785)

11. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 01:03.8374 (101.508)

12. (20) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 01:03.9618 (101.310)

13. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 01:15.8337 (85.450)

14. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 01:12.3741 (89.535)

15. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 01:15.9111 (85.363)

16. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 01:12.5890 (89.270)

17. (18) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 01:16.8105 (84.363)

18. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 01:12.6994 (89.134)

19. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 02:34.4862 (41.945)

20. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 01:13.0048 (88.761)

21. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, No Time (No Speed)

22. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 01:13.1170 (88.625)

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 29 2014
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