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Red Hot Pagenaud On Pole In Indy

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, May 13 2016
Simon Pagenaud is on pole for Indy's road race.

Simon Pagenaud is on pole for Indy’s road race.

RacinToday.com

IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud drove to the pole for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield road course on Friday.

The Team Penske driver, who has won the last two series events, won his second straight pole of 2016 and fourth of his career with a lap of 1 minute, 8.6868 seconds (127.832 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six – the last of three rounds of knockout qualifying.

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in racing,” said the 31-year-old Pagenaud.

“I’m driving the best I’ve driven, ever. Little by little, you get confidence with success. Team Penske, they give me the best car. If I drive it well, you should expect to be up there. To be up there so often is certainly the best feeling in the world.”

Charlie Kimball, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet, will start next to Pagenaud’s No. 22 Chevrolet on Row 1 following a career-best qualifying effort. Kimball’s lap in the Firestone Fast Six was 1:08.9816 (127.286 mph).

“We made the race car better and better and we didn’t focus too much on qualifying, so I think we have a good pace for tomorrow,” Kimball said. “Having finished fifth here the last two years, I’m looking forward to the race. It’s neat to be on the front row.

“Congrats to Simon for getting the pole. I think we would have had to have the perfect lap to be able to match his lap time.”

Pagenaud won races last month on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., and the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Ala., leading up to this epic month of May at Indianapolis that includes the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 29. He is the only driver to qualify for the Firestone Fast Six in all four road/street-course events this season.

“It’s not that simple, it’s a lot of work in the background,” said Pagenaud, who won the first Angie’s List Grand Prix in 2014 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.” I just want to take my hat off to my engineer, Ben Bretzman, for giving me a monster car every time. It’s a lot of fun for me right now, the whole team is functioning so well. The decision process from (strategist) Kyle Moyer to do one lap each segment was all him. It’s really a team sport.”

Will Power, Pagenaud’s teammate at Team Penske, set the track record in Segment 1 of qualifying with a lap of 1:08.6746. It broke Power’s own record set last year by more than eight-tenths of a second, but the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske failed to advance from Segment 2 to the Firestone Fast Six and will start the race in the 12th spot.

“We were great in practice and I messed up in qualifying (brushing the wall), again” said Power, who won the 2015 race from the pole. “It seems like it’s every week now. It’s getting pretty frustrating. It’s difficult to race from the back in these races, but that’s what we’ll do tomorrow in our Verizon Chevy.”

Row 2 is filled by Graham Rahal in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda (1:09.1816, 126.918 mph) and James Hinchcliffe in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (a season-best start with a time of 1:09.2260, 126.837 mph).

Josef Newgarden, in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Chevy (1:09.4316, 126.461 mph), and Jack Hawksworth, in the No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda (1:09.5141, 126.311 mph) make up the third row. The first six starting positions are split evenly between manufacturers Honda and Chevrolet.

Scott Dixon, who trails Pagenaud by 48 points for the championship lead, will start ninth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

The 82-lap race, fifth event of the 2016 schedule, will start at 3:50 p.m. (ET) Saturday. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

INDIANAPOLIS – Qualifying Friday for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:08.6868 (127.832)
2. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 01:08.9816 (127.286)
3. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:09.2260 (126.837)
4. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 01:09.5141 (126.311)
5. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 01:09.2511 (126.791)
6. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 01:09.2645 (126.766)
7. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 01:09.4010 (126.517)
8. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 01:09.4436 (126.439)
9. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:09.6771 (126.016)
10. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:09.9297 (125.560)
11. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 01:09.3289 (126.648)
12. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:09.1475 (126.981)
13. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:09.4947 (126.346)
14. (61) Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, 01:09.2944 (126.712)
15. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:09.5276 (126.287)
16. (6) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 01:09.4377 (126.450)
17. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 01:09.6457 (126.072)
18. (16) Spencer Pigot, Honda, 01:09.4591 (126.411)
19. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:09.7478 (125.888)
20. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:09.4659 (126.399)
21. (35) Alex Tagliani, Honda, 01:10.4109 (124.702)
22. (18) Conor Daly, Honda, 01:09.4795 (126.374)
23. (19) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 01:09.7720 (125.844)
24. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, No time
25. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, No time

Note: Times for Rahal and Newgarden were disallowed for violating Rule 14.3.1.1 (Minimum car weight)

 

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, May 13 2016
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