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Pagenaud Sets Record In Mid-Ohio Qualifying

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2016
Simon Pagenaud edged Team Penske teammate Will Power in qualifying at Mid-Ohio on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Simon Pagenaud edged Team Penske teammate Will Power in qualifying at Mid-Ohio on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud will start Sunday’s race at the Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course in prime position to increase that points lead.

bugindycarThe Team Penske driver claimed the pole at Mid-Ohio with a lap at 127.271 mph on Saturday. That toppled the track record.

“I didn’t know about that,” the Frenchman said of the record. “That is good. The PPG Chevrolet has been really good this weekend. It was more on me really because I have been struggling a little bit with my really bad lower back. They did a lot work on me. We didn’t need to do too much on the car, more on me this weekend. We put those Firestone red tires on and again, the car was beautiful.”

The pole was the sixth of the season for Pagenaud, who has also won three races in 2016.

The fast lap was just a tick faster than the lap of teammate and hottest pursuer, Will Power. Power turned a lap in 127.135 mph and will start next to Pagenaud on the front row at the 2.258-mile track.
Mid-Ohio has been hit by on-and-off rain the last couple of days and that made preparing for qualifying a challenge on Saturday.

That was an interesting qualifying. The expectation of rain, no rain. There were some drops in Segment 2 that made it more difficult. And there at the end I think the strategy was perfect to start (the Fast Six segment). (A win) is exactly what we need to do for the championship. It is a long season, so if you can repeat wins like we were doing at the beginning of the season then it would be great to extend the gap. We’ve been just as competitive all year. It has been just an incredible year. A lot of fun for sure.”

Power, who is 47 points behind Pagenaud, said the weather, indeed, made things interesting.

“It was just like mayhem not knowing what tires to use,” Power said, “and everyone went out on reds so we went out and did one lap on blacks and came straight in for reds. It was just a mixed-up session, and it was tiring as hell because you had to run every single lap like — the Firestone Fast Six, I took a lap to take a breather. It was crazy.”

Fastest among non-Penske drivers Saturday was Josef Newgarden of Ed Carpenter Racing.

“It was really exciting, actually,” Newgarden said. “I was nervous in the second round. We were debating new or used reds in the second group, no one really knew it what it was going to do. It looked like it was going to rain, then it didn’t, then it kind of did. We ended up going out on scuffs and I struggled, I couldn’t really get a good lap time on them. We came in and put on new tires and it started raining in Turn 4. I thought ‘Well, we just shot ourselves in the foot.’ The next lap it dried up and I got a good time and got in the Firestone Fast Six.

“We did a pretty decent job and ended up third. I feel good about where we are starting. That’s a good spot for us. We should try and challenge the two Penske guys (Simon Pagenaud and Will Power) for the whole race. They’ll be tough to beat. They’re really, really good around here on their tires. I think that’s what it’s going to take. Kind of like Barber, you have to have good longevity on your tires. That’s where we got beat in Barber, so we have got to work on that tomorrow morning.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

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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. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:03.8700 (127.271)
2. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:03.9381 (127.135)
3. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:04.1200 (126.775)
4. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:04.3265 (126.368)
5. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 01:04.3644 (126.293)
6. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:04.4697 (126.087)
7. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:04.4300 (126.165)
8. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 01:04.5141 (126.000)
9. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:04.5796 (125.873)
10. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:04.6084 (125.816)
11. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 01:04.6554 (125.725)
12. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:04.8082 (125.429)
13. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 01:04.7752 (125.492)
14. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 01:04.5885 (125.855)
15. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 01:04.8621 (125.324)
16. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 01:04.5967 (125.839)
17. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 01:05.0196 (125.021)
18. (19) RC Enerson, Honda, 01:04.6576 (125.721)
19. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:05.1891 (124.696)
20. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:04.8354 (125.376)
21. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:05.1997 (124.675)
22. (18) Conor Daly, Honda, 01:05.1098 (124.848)

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2016
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