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Qualifying Report: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. April 16, 2016—Two different directions and two different results can sometimes be the bane of a two-car team. It was the case for the ABC Supply team today in qualifying. However, they found out definitively what worked and what didn’t.

Takuma Sato’s team made the right calls as the 2013 Long Beach winner made the biggest gain from morning practice where he was 16th to qualify eighth. Sato was the second quickest Honda, being eclipsed by seventh starting James Hinchcliffe by just seven hundredths of a second. The session was made more difficult as the timing and scoring data wasn’t available to the teams during the session due to a malfunctioning timing beacon. Teams had to wait until officials sorted through the data to figure out positions five minutes after the session had ended.

“I think we should be happy with the result under the circumstances,” said Sato, who posted a quick time of 1 minute, 7.22 seconds. “We had difficulty in this morning’s practice but in qualifying we caught up to the quickest Hondas. It was a shame it was a couple tenths down from the top six especially because we had a little confusion in the second segment when we didn’t have any lap times for reference. So I needed to keep pushing and I feel I lost a little bit cause I caught up to the car ahead of me and had to lift on my final lap which was my fastest lap. But I think the ABC Supply team and engineering did a great job to make the car faster. After practice we went through all the data and came up with a different philosophy on the setup. I’m very proud of them. We’ll aim to have a clean and strong race tomorrow.”

Hawksworth’s team, in an attempt to better their performance which had been 11th or better during the weekend, made some changes that didn’t work as well as intended.  Hawksworth posted a lap time of 1 minute, 7.99 seconds, and said, “It was a disappointing qualifying for us. We struggled for grip and didn’t really have any bite. Obviously we were more competitive in practice so we have to figure out what went on and come back and recover tomorrow.” 

The Firestone Fast Six was comprised of Chevrolet-powered teams with Helio Castroneves winning the pole with a lap time of 1 minute, 7.12 seconds. Second through fifth were Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan, and Juan Pablo Montoya. Teammate Will Power lost his two fastest laps (which would have put him on pole) when he brought out a red flag and will start sixth.

There will be a morning warmup for teams to finalize their race setups. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network starting at 4 p.m. ET.