Castroneves’ lap (1:07.1246seconds) earned him his second consecutive pole at the Southern California street circuit and second consecutive pole this season after Arie Luyendyk’s longstanding IndyCar track record at Phoenix.
He’ll start alongside Scott Dixon, who turned in a lap at 1:07.4455. Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya round out the top five.
“They say it’s better to be lucky than good and we planned very well,” said Castroneves, who won his 47th career pole. “Will [Power] was definitely in a league of his own and he seems to be putting out phenomenal laps, but in the end putting on red tires, you saw [Scott] Dixon up there, you saw (Tony) Kanaan up there and Juan Pablo [Montoya] and Simon [Pagenaud], so it was a mix. But, I’ll take it.”
Will Power brought out the red flag with just under three minutes left in the Fast Six when he tapped the tire barrier and wound up in the run-off area.
The Fast Six session was delayed several minutes after timing and scoring suffered a malfunction at the start/finish line at the tail end of the previous knockout session, leaving several teams in limbo while they waited to see if they had advanced. IndyCar ultimately moved to use the timing line on the backstretch entering Turn 9.
“We didn’t qualify as high as we hoped for,” said Josef Newgarden, who dropped from sixth to ninth after timing and scoring was adjusted. “We’ve been fast on old tires and in the mix all weekend. We just can’t get that last little bit. It was a weird session. I didn’t have any timing and scoring or split times, which makes it a little bit harder. At the end of day, we just didn’t have enough.”
Five Hondas advances past the first round – James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay from the first group and Carlos Munoz and Luca Filippi in the second. Hinchcliffe will be the highest-starting Honda in seventh.
“If you look back at Phoenix, it’s not bad to start at seven. … Inside’s a good place to be for Turn 1 here. There’s a lot of positives to take out of it, for sure.”
Max Chilton showed speed early on in qualifying but failed to advance past the first round.
“We’ve been chasing the setup all weekend as a team but some are doing better with more experience,” Chilton lamented. “I definitely had the best car I’ve had all weekend but on my last ‘push’ lap, I had three missed shifts on the exits of the main straights. I’m not saying I would have made it through [to the Fast 12], but we would have been right on the cusp. It’s frustrating.”
Pagenaud, who is starting third, offered a strategy on how to move to the front.
“It’s a track where passing is possible because it’s such a long, straight line,” he said. “It definitely should be easier than St. Petersburg. It’s always a game of downforce levels, so we’ll see who does what. Pit sequence is also super important as we see the most passes because going out on cold tires there’s always something interesting happening on the out lap, and I think there’s going to be some action tomorrow.”
There are just two races left before IndyCar rolls into the Brickyard for the 100th Indy 500, Long Beach and The Grand Prix of Alabama.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!