• Manufacturers, teams receive sufficient time to test new universal aero kit • Open tests scheduled for Phoenix Raceway, Barber Motorsports Park, Indianapolis Motor Speedway INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017) – INDYCAR is providing ample time for manufacturers and teams to learn the new universal aero kit during offseason testing, with the sanctioning body for…
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GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma
Click HERE to view and download the official box score from the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
SONOMA, California – Results Sunday of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (3) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
3. (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
4. (6) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
5. (4) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
6. (9) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
7. (11) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
8. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
9. (10) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 85, Running
10. (13) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 85, Running
11. (15) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 85, Running
12. (14) Max Chilton, Honda, 85, Running
13. (17) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 84, Running
14. (20) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 84, Running
15. (22) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 84, Running
16. (12) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 84, Running
17. (21) Zachary Claman DeMelo, Honda, 84, Running
18. (19) Jack Harvey, Honda, 84, Running
19. (18) Ed Jones, Honda, 69, Off Course
20. (5) Takuma Sato, Honda, 62, Off Course
21. (8) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 60, Running
22. (16) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 52, Electrical
Winner’s average speed: 104.968 mph
Time of Race: 1:55:52.6840
Margin of victory: 1.0986 seconds
Lead changes: 6 among 3 drivers
Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 642, Pagenaud 629, Dixon 621, Castroneves 598, Power 562, Rahal 522, Rossi 494, Sato 441, Hunter-Reay 421, Kanaan 403.
Perfect Penske day ends with Pagenaud race win, Newgarden championship
SONOMA, California (Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017) – For Team Penske, it was the perfect day at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Simon Pagenaud won the race to conclude the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Teammate Josef Newgarden finished second to wrap up the championship.
Pagenaud, the 2016 champion driving the No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet, beat Newgarden to the finish line by 1.0986 seconds to win the 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway. It was the Frenchman’s 11th career victory and second straight on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn permanent road course. A year ago, Pagenaud won from the pole position at Sonoma to sew up his first championship.
GOPRO GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA: Box score
This year, it was Newgarden who clinched his first title and the $1 million champion’s prize by finishing second in the race. The 26-year-old Tennessean held off Pagenaud by 13 points in the final standings to become the first American driver to win the championship since Ryan Hunter-Reay five years ago.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Newgarden, the driver of the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who made his 100th career start today. “It was all year and it took a lot to make it happen. Thank you to my teammates. They were giving me a lot of help to make sure we got this done. It’s a huge team effort at Team Penske.
“To finally get it done is a dream come true.”
The championship is the 15th for Team Penske, the most decorated team in Indy car history. Newgarden joins the likes of Tom Sneva, Rick Mears, Al Unser, Danny Sullivan, Al Unser Jr., Gil de Ferran, Sam Hornish Jr., Will Power and Pagenaud as Team Penske drivers to win an Indy car title.
“I’ve had so many great drivers, and as I said, I don’t have a favorite,” team owner Roger Penske said. “I can’t compare (Newgarden) to anyone exactly. He’s an American, which is special in this sport because many of the other drivers have come from overseas and different parts of the world. To see Josef kind of take this route and be at the top right now is pretty exciting.”
The race ran caution-free for the first time in Sonoma Raceway history, which now spans 14 Indy car events. Newgarden and Pagenaud each led 41 laps. Pagenaud opted for a four-stop strategy to Newgarden’s three pit stops, but the Frenchman made up the extra time in pit lane by turning faster laps on an open track.
The decisive race moment came when Pagenaud made his final stop from the lead for fuel and tires on Lap 64. He returned to the track just ahead of the charging Newgarden and held on to first place as the teammates battled around the track. From there, Pagenaud kept Newgarden in his mirrors to the finish.
Pagenaud completed all 2,331 laps this season, becoming just the second driver to finish every lap in a season. Tony Kanaan was the first, when he completed all 3,305 laps when he won the 2004 championship.
“We did what we had to do,” Pagenaud said. “We tried. We won the race; it wasn’t enough. It’s a whole championship. You’ve got to be strong in every race and I guess Josef was a little stronger this year, so we’ll come back. Thirteen points. Next year we’ll come back and give him a hell of a competition again.”
Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, gave Team Penske a race podium sweep by placing third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske. Scott Dixon finished fourth in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing to clinch third in the standings, 23 points behind Newgarden. It is the 11th time in his 17-year career that Dixon, a four-time champion, has finished in the top three in points.
Helio Castroneves wrapped up fourth in the standings by finishing fifth in the race driving the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Completing his 20th year racing Indy cars, the 42-year-old Brazilian is still in search of his first series championship.
By finishing third in the race, Power – the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion – earned fifth place in the standings.
An hour-long special documenting the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season and Newgarden’s championship will air at 7 p.m. ET Sept. 28 on NBCSN.
“What They’re Saying” from GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “I want to thank everybody on the DXC Technology Chevrolet team today. It was a phenomenal performance, I think, all weekend. I want to congratulate Josef (Newgarden), of course, and Team Penske. I think our team this weekend and the whole season showed how strong everybody is at Team Penske. Back-to-back champions. It’s phenomenal. Great testament to a great team spirit and I’m very happy for him. He deserves it. We did what we had to do. We tried. We won the race; it wasn’t enough. It’s a whole championship. You’ve got to be strong on every race and I guess Josef was a little stronger this year so we’ll come back. Thirteen points (behind). Next year we’ll come back and give him a hell of a competition again.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m so proud of these guys. I don’t even know what to say. It was all year. It took a lot to make this happen. Thank you to my teammates. They were giving me a lot of help today in making sure that we got this done. It’s a huge team effort at Team Penske. So, it’s cool to do this with Verizon. Verizon does so much for the IndyCar Series. They’ve given fans such great access over the years. I’m happy to have this car for the championship. It’s super fitting; and all the other partners we’ve had at Team Penske. It’s just been phenomenal working with Team Chevy. We’ve had so many great partners on this car. And to finally get it done is a dream come true. It’s too awesome. It was hard. I was using my natural instincts. I was trying to get (Simon) Pagenaud there because that’s what I normally do. I try to win the race whenever possible. They were telling me to be patient and not do something stupid. I tried to get him, but I also tried not to do anything dumb for the team. Like I said, this has been a team effort. So, I’m happy for Pagenaud. He had the pace to win today, for sure; he’s very deserving. This entire group makes this happen. I’m so thankful and happy with everything that Team Penske has done. Congrats to everyone at the factory. This is an amazing amount of work that goes into this.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m always going to focus on the positive thing. I’m not going to focus on Texas when we had a problem, or other races that I missed strategy or made mistakes. You’ve got to think about, again, it was another season that we pushed as hard as we could and another top four. And again, sometimes it’s funny because you see the statistics, finished second – I finished second four times. But it was more times – the P4 is not what it represents because we were in a battle a lot more years than that. And that’s what I look at. I look because each year that’s what kept me motivated to come back and push hard, and that for me was hard. Sometimes it’s – well, I try, but to get one – it’s easy to follow from that position, but to keep up like I’ve been doing all these years, I think it’s the hardest thing to do. But it doesn’t just happen. It comes with a great team. It comes with great dedication from your guys, great trust, and obviously, myself to keep motivated, finding ways to keep pushing and having teammates like I have today, no question, helped me to become a better driver. The Hitachi Chevrolet team was great all season and I can’t thank them enough for their hard work dedication.”
CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I have to thank the boys for keeping faith in the strategy. It was a bold move to make the three-stop call. We were able to make the numbers but we got stuck behind (Jack) Harvey in the third part of that stint which was really frustrating. I think it impeded us from doing a little bit better. In the end, another top-10 which is really positive from where we started this weekend. It was a good consistent race. It was tough – there were a lot of moments of flying through the air and banging wheels with people. It was wild, so I’m just happy to come back in one piece and have another consistent finish to end the year. I’m happy to finally finish a double points race, I’ve never done that, so that was nice.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda):“Obviously not the ending to the race or to the year that we wanted. This weekend has been tough from rolling off the trailer on Thursday, but this team never gives up and we kept fighting. Really had high hopes for the race with some big changes overnight and we were going to go off-strategy to try and make some moves. After a good start, we made up a couple spots and then I was trying to set up someone going through Turn 3, and I guess Spencer (Pigot) just went for a gap that was closing and hit us, spun us out and put us to the back of the field and did some damage to the car. From there on it was tough just hanging on to the No. 5 Arrow Electronics machine. Like I said, we don’t give up, and we kept digging, trying to make up whatever spots we could, but ultimately some damage was done to the electronics on the car and the gearbox electronics stopped working so I was stuck in gear. Very unfortunate, but still a lot to be proud of this season. A lot of bad luck came our way when we were running well, didn’t get the results we wanted, but we already have our eyes on 2018. Looking forward to the new car and going into next season stronger. Thank you to everyone on this SPM team, Arrow and all of our supporters. Big congrats to Josef (Newgarden) on clinching the championship.”
JACK HARVEY (No. 7 AutoNation Honda): “The highlight of our weekend was coming home to the checkered flag (laughs). It was nice to get to the end of the two races that we were able to do with SPM and bring home the AutoNation Sirius XM car in one piece. Although we weren’t very quick today, I’m glad we were able to do that for the guys. I don’t know exactly what, but we seemed to be missing something all weekend, and I think we missed it from the first session which put us on the back foot immediately. The thing is, when you’re racing against some of the best teams in the world, without a doubt some of the best drivers, too, you just can’t afford to have that happen. The race itself, I initially had a good start, picked up three spots, but kind of got caught up in someone else’s debacle in turn 9 which kind of shuffled me back. I think we just lacked pace. In the end, I’m just really grateful for all of the support I’ve had from my partners and the whole SPM team, and I hope I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do this all over again, hopefully in St. Pete next year.”
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “My target for the year was to win the (Indianapolis) 500, finish in the top 10 in the championship, and later it was to catch Tony (Kanaan) in the championship. We nearly won the 500, finished a few points out of the top 10, and Tony finished just in front of me, so we just missed out on our targets barely. But I think the Gallagher team should feel pretty good about what we did accomplish.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): “It just seems like the No. 3 car covered us. Every time we short-pitted they followed us and he was just a massive roadblock. Once we got into clean air, we were able to make up ground, but every time we got into traffic we got real loose. Huge credit to everyone on the NTT Data crew obviously not the way we wanted to finish. A big congrats to Penske and Josef (Newgarden) on a job well done.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “Starting the race being hit from behind on the first lap really took away any chances that we had to have a good race. We had to come in right away for a flat tire and once we got shuffled back with the unplanned stop it was almost impossible to get back toward the front. I’d say overall, it’s been a difficult season for myself and the No. 10 NTT Data Honda. We’ve had a lot of things go wrong that we couldn’t control and some that we could, but I’m going into the offseason very optimistic about next season. NTT Data has been a great partner for me over the last three years and it’s been great to see that partnership grow. I want to thank Chip (Ganassi) and the whole Chip Ganassi Racing team for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this team and I wish them nothing but the best.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was pretty obvious a couple races ago that we were in trouble after Gateway, so yeah, I mean, it’s great for the team. Obviously, you want to be the one that wins it, but it’s very tough these days, and you’ve got to have a very solid year to get it done, and when I look at this year, no one made mistakes. You see the top six there, top six or seven are the top six or seven almost every race. We had some ups and downs with the No. 12 Verizon Chevy team, but it was a good year. We won some races and some poles. We’ll give it another go next year.”
ZACHARY CLAMAN DEMELO (No. 13 Paysafe Honda): “Jack Harvey and Tony Kanaan came together and they got stuck and slowed down a bit more than I anticipated. I just clipped Harvey, who was really close, and unfortunately, I broke the front wing which forced us to make an early pit stop. After that, the pace was really good. I just tried to do my own thing, but unfortunately dropped a lap down. I ran with some quick guys like Will Power and Helio (Castroneves), and drove away from Helio. I made some positions back on lapped traffic and ended up finishing 17th. It was a good day. I learned a lot and want to thank Paysafe for the opportunity. It’s nice to complete my first race and get this many laps in. Overall I’m happy with the day.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “IThe first pit stop we had a problem and we lost some time there. It maybe cost us three positions. We had quite a good pace compared to the others. It’s been a tough season but I think in the end we finished pretty good. We had some ups and downs. Thank you to all the team and ABC Supply for the season and we’ll see what happens.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals / SoldierStrong Honda): “We had a great race and raised more money for United Rentals and the Turns for Troops program. We went out there and pushed as hard as we could. The Honda engine got us great fuel mileage so that made life a little bit easier. We could attack for quite a lot of the race. Obviously tires were key today. They went off a lot. We tried as hard as we could to make some good passes, but I think sixth is the best that we could expect this weekend. I tried to get by Helio (Castroneves) there near the end, but came up a little bit short. I was in front of him but he broke really late, which I would have done too, and just slid across my front. We have finished fourth, fifth, and now sixth in the standings this year. Our team is doing a good job. We have a lot to be proud of this year. We have to just keep pushing as hard as we can. I hope we can come out on top next year.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): “We started off pretty strong this week and felt really good the first couple of days but then we lost it on Friday afternoon. I don’t know what we did wrong, or what I did wrong, but we couldn’t find the pace we had earlier in the week. Today’s race was a pretty miserable day with nothing really to fight for. It’s never the kind of race you want to have. It’s disappointing, but it was a bit a reflection of our year with highs and lows. We’ll forget about 2017 and look forward and hope to have a better stretch next year.”
ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “I had a good start and gained quite a few positions. I attacked really hard because I knew that would be the best opportunity to make up any ground. After that, we had pretty decent pace. We ran 12th for a long time and we were on course to finish 11th. Maybe we could have even slipped into the top 10. That’s our first technical failure of the whole season. Obviously, it’s frustrating that it happened at the end. But then again, everything has gone so well so far that it’s going to happen eventually. It’s just too bad that it happened at the last one. I want to thank Dale (Coyne) and (his wife) Gail and the whole team for the opportunity they gave me this season. I hope we can do it again next year.”
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I damaged my front wing on the first lap by getting into James (Hinchcliffe) at the top of Turn 3. It was definitely not my intent to ruin their race, so apologies to James and all of his crew. That incident also made a long race for us. We were forced to save fuel and just pound around out there just to see what positions we could make up. Overall, I learned a lot this year and I’m excited to be back in the Fuzzy’s Vodka car in 2018.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “It just felt good to put in a good race. I really enjoy this track and I had a lot of friends and family in the crowd, so that’s always fun. We diced it up pretty good early in the race in the first couple of stints. We had one particularly bad stint. We had a set of (Firestone alternate) reds that just went off big time and lost a lot of track position. After that, we kept getting caught behind cars we were quicker than, but we were catching them too late in the stints to do anything about it. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make totally good on what was a pretty good day in terms of overall pace. All in all, I’m glad to be back on track here and had fun out there. We’ll see what goes on from here.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It was an unforgettable season. I had a great time in the team and we are so bonded for the No. 26 boys. I can’t thank every single person in the entire Andretti Autosport family enough. It was a great time and we achieved something, an unbelievable (Indianapolis 500) win. (Today’s result is) a shame, we wanted to finish strong but this is motor racing. I really appreciate everybody’s support. Thank you for everything. It’s been a tough, roller coaster season but we showed tremendous speed, especially for the last six races. It’s unbelievable, always (being) one of the top Hondas. That’s something I’m really proud of with the No. 26 boys and it was a fabulous year so thank you for everything.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): “I think we pretty much maximized our pace today. We probably could have gotten (Graham) Rahal, but I couldn’t hold him on black (Firestone tires). I was on cold blacks and I locked up, so I did the best I could to keep him behind me. It was pretty obvious the Penske cars were in a league of their own so we were just trying to maximize what we had going on. We don’t come here to finish seventh but it’s a decent result, it’s something to build on. I really think the (2018) package will be way more to my strengths. I struggle in the high-speed corners, I struggled in (Turn) 6 today so I need to get a grip on that. I don’t just want to turn the page after not being great this year, I want to figure out why we weren’t great. I have no doubt next year we can be on it. I tidied up my street course game, which was my old weakness, so I think if we get my strength back on the short ovals, where I used to be good, who knows?”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I don’t know what happened on the start, but (our lane) didn’t go and I got jumped by three or four cars there. It was kind of a mess. We were just in recovery mode from there, trying to get back up where we started. We made some setup changes before the race that didn’t work out. Often in this sport it’s trial and error, and we found what didn’t work today. Disappointing finish to the race but all in all, looking at where we were in the championship points leaving Indy, to finish ninth in the championship, we clawed our way back many, many spots. But, we’re here to win races, win championships and we’ve certainly had our fair share of misfortune this year but there’s also a lot we could have done better. We’ll have to put all that together and hopefully have a little bit better luck next year and be a stronger overall effort.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “I think as predicted by a lot of people, today’s race was a lot about tire fall-off. We fought rear grip and traction for most of the day, especially after about four or five laps in a stint. Overall I’m proud of the guys on the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team. They didn’t give up today and they haven’t given up all year. They kept their chins up and kept pushing as hard as they could. I think the 83 crew doesn’t know the definition of giving up. I’m appreciative of everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing for the last seven years and I’m not sure what the future holds. I’ll relax tonight and get back to work on next season tomorrow.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): “It was a pretty disappointing day, to have a mechanical issue after the first stop. I think we were in a pretty decent position to possibly get in the top five after our opening stint but it wasn’t meant to be today. A huge shout out to the NAPA Auto Parts team and the Andretti-Herta boys for the hard work back in the garage to get us back out there, we picked up another spot. To close the season off this way is disappointing but at the same time, there’s a huge amount of positives we can take from the year and I can’t wait to get started again in 2018.”
Points leader Newgarden wins Sonoma pole with record lap SONOMA, California (Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017) – Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Josef Newgarden withstood constant pressure from his nearest championship competitors, setting a track record to win the Verizon P1 Award in GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma qualifying. Newgarden earned his first pole of…
Points leader Newgarden shows plenty of speed in Sonoma practice SONOMA, California (Friday, September 15, 2017) – Championship leader Josef Newgarden led both practice sessions on the opening day of GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma activities as the Team Penske driver looks to close in on his first Verizon IndyCar Series title. Holding a…
Rossi wins at Watkins Glen as championship tightens WATKINS GLEN, New York (Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017) – Alexander Rossi completed a dream weekend with a win in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen. Josef Newgarden endured a nightmare incident in the race that leaves the Verizon IndyCar Series championship battle wide open for the…
“What They’re Saying” from INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen qualifying
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s a little disappointing for sure not to advance to the Firestone Fast Six. We’ve been quick here in the Menards Chevrolet all weekend and I’m not sure exactly why, but we just couldn’t find that same speed in second round qualifying. Starting 12th, I think we’ll have the opportunity to move up quickly tomorrow, and with weather as a factor, you never know what can happen. We’ll be working hard to get the best result we can, for sure.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m not sure that any of us on the DeVilbiss Chevy team thought we’d be in that fight for the pole, but we certainly were. I think we had the pole car. Unfortunately, I messed it up in Turn 9. I feel awful about that and I’ll beat myself up over it for a bit. I think we’re in a good spot for the race tomorrow, though. If we get the weather everyone is calling for, then I’m not sure that anyone knows the best place to be. You would think it’s at the front, so I hope that’s right.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “Overall, we’re proud of qualifying in the top six in the Hitachi Chevy. We thought we were looking pretty good making our way through qualifying, and once we got into the Firestone Fast Six we just didn’t have it, especially on the black tires. We know we have a fast car and we are definitely still in the fight there with the other championship contenders. We just need to be smart in the race tomorrow and handle whatever comes our way so we can be there fighting for the win in the end.”
CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was very close with Carlos (Munoz), which is nice because we’re fighting to be in the top 12, which is good. We just missed it a little bit. I might have just not recognized that we needed the car we had this morning, but we did three laps that were the same; it might have just been a tire pressure thing. Either way when you fight over a small gap like that, I probably could have done something different about it. It’s a shame but Carlos is very good at qualifying, so it’s good to have him as part of our team because it really pushes me to improve my performance in qualifying. We’ve always been better in the race, so we’ll see what happens.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “A bit disappointed after qualifying. We’ve kind of been struggling all weekend just to find grip in the car. We’ve made a lot of changes, and unfortunately they haven’t responded the way we were hoping. In qualifying, I actually think we made a big gain from Practice 3 if you look at the relative pace of the guys up front. It still just wasn’t quite enough. To go into qualifying making as many changes as we did, I’m proud of the guys and the effort that we put forward. We didn’t have a great qualifying last year, but we turned it into what was going to be a good race before the last lap there, so we’re down but not out. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow, especially if weather comes into play. We’re going to regroup tonight and try and figure out how to get the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda up front.”
JACK HARVEY (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports AutoNation Sirius XM Honda): “It’s my first weekend (in an Indy car on a road course), and obviously a lot of new things to learn; the red (alternate) Firestones, of course, everybody’s talked about them all year and what a difference they can make. It’s such a high-commitment circuit, and I think, although I’ve never driven here, there are so many things to know, so many things to learn and I just wanted to execute this weekend. I wanted to push as hard I could without risking the car, and I think qualifying, in the end, went pretty well. I didn’t want to be last, and we ticked that off. It’s been a weekend where we have been progressing very well, and getting quicker every session. We just have to keep that going for the race and have a solid finish in the AutoNation Sirius XM car.”
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “I think we may have some sort of issue with the Gallagher car that we haven’t found. I was third quickest yesterday and now we’re two seconds off the pace with a better track, red tires and pushing a lot more. The time is just not in it. I got through to the Firestone Fast Six last year, we were fast here in testing and this weekend in all the practices. I gave it everything I had and more, but we just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It’s going to be a long night as a team to figure it out, but we’ll dig deep and be ready for tomorrow.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): “It’s hard not to be happy with a front-row start here at Watkins Glen in the NTT Data car, but the frustrating part is we had the car, and then some, to get the pole. We caught Helio (Castroneves) so quickly, I’m not exactly sure what happened or what he was thinking. We caught him with, I think, two laps to go, so I’m not sure if we should have backed off sooner or what. I think at the end we had at least another three to four tenths in the car, so we left a lot on the table, for sure, today. So it’s frustrating to lose the pole that way when we had so much more. We just straight up didn’t get the gap the way we needed to and it cost us. We do have a very strong car for tomorrow and I’m ready to go for sure.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “Obviously we aren’t happy with how the No. 10 NTT Data Honda qualified today. We tried something different on the setup for qualifying and it was just too far in the opposite direction. I think the uncertainty of tomorrow’s weather might make the race more of a toss-up, so hopefully it’ll play into our favor and we’ll be able to work through the field quickly and stay up there.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I got a little loose out there in some spots and I think it affected my confidence in some others on if it would stick or not. The Verizon Chevrolet really wasn’t as comfortable for me today as yesterday. I don’t know if it’s the wind. I don’t feel like the track changed at all. I can’t really pinpoint it right now. I do know that we’ll all go to work and take a look at everything to get us in a good place for the race tomorrow. The weather looks to be in question and we won’t know the answers to that until we get there. We’ll plan for everything and go from there.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I pushed the car 100 percent, maybe lost one tenth because I got some bad shifting on my quickest lap and I think it cost me a position. When everything is so close, everything has to be perfect. I think it’s still a good day. We made some changes for qualifying and it helped a lot. I think tomorrow with all the rain, starting toward the front is better because of all the spray. We’ll see how it goes with the weather. When it’s raining, it’s a lottery race.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “The car has been loose all weekend and we just can’t seem to make any headway. I’m just hanging on. It is what it is and I will just have to go race hard tomorrow. I don’t think we are close enough yet to a good race set up, but we’ll see how it is over the long run.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): “The session is not long enough at this track to do a full run on both black (primary) and red (alternate) Firestone tires, so we decided to take the chance and go with the blacks. Yesterday, we didn’t do so well in practice on the reds, and I was happy with the car on blacks, and it paid off as were able to get in the fast 12. Unfortunately, I misled the boys a little bit. I thought we would be better than that balance-wise, but the track picked up grip and we picked up understeer. It’s not because of the tires or anything. I had a pretty good lap just way too much understeer. ”
ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “I think we improved the car again. That was the closest we’ve been all weekend. Obviously, it still wasn’t enough. I think we were a step behind. If we had practiced with the car like it was in qualifying, we would have been able to take another step forward and maybe be a bit further up, but it’s not too bad. Starting 15th, we can work from there and move our way up. It might be a wet race tomorrow, so that could make things really interesting.”
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “We definitely made a lot of progress in qualifying. We’ve kind of been hovering around an eighth of a second or a second off the pace, so we closed the gap a lot. That was nice, but once again, we came up just a bit shy from advancing. Usually, if you’re within a tenth of Will (Power), you’re right up there at the front. A big thanks to all the guys, Fuzzy’s Vodka, and Chevrolet for letting me do this. It is another midfield starting spot, but we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “It’s been kind of a weird weekend. We’ve tried a lot of different things and just can’t get the speed out of the car we’re looking for. It’s frustrating because I really like Watkins Glen and the team finished on the podium here last year, so we were hoping for a bit more. We just can’t manage to get much better lap times out of it. It’s disappointing, but we’ll continue plugging away at it for the rest of the weekend. There should be some fuel saving going on tomorrow, so hopefully that is something that works in our favor.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “We tested here a few weeks ago to learn a different philosophies. It seems to be working well for the team. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and Marco (Andretti) have been very competitive this weekend and all of us feel very positive. In the end, I want to say congrats to Alexander (Rossi). He did a tremendous job to beat us all. A bit of a shame that we got beaten by a tenth (of a second). The entire Andretti Autosport team worked together and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): “We obviously wanted better out of qualifying today, but I’m struggling in the high-speed corners so the result is on me. The teammates have shown good speeds — and congrats to Alex (Rossi) on his pole, that was a mega lap, but I just haven’t been able to put it together. We’ll look at everything tonight and may have to get creative with strategy tomorrow, and will have to see what the weather brings. We’re starting P20 so we’re down, but we’re not out.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Just two-hundredths of a second would have put us fifth – two hundredths of a second. It just shows how tight this series is. You always have to get the max out of every corner. We were just on the wrong side of it today. That was really close – really we wanted be in that Firestone Fast Six so we could continue to improve the DHL car. We’ll have to go get them tomorrow – we can do that from seventh.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “We had some electrical issues with the engine yesterday that put us a little behind in terms of getting up to speed out there, so I think it says a lot that we were able to come back out today and qualify in the (Firestone Fast Six). The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys did a great job getting the No. 83 fixed before final practice yesterday and then gave me a really good car to go out and qualify today. I’m definitely happy with our run. I think anytime you can finish within a few tenths of a second of Scott Dixon at Watkins Glen, you know you’re doing well. I have a lot of faith in our race car and hopefully we can move forward in the field like we did last year when we came from 14th to sixth and get our first win of the season.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): “It was a big lap we needed. The lap before was pretty good, but they came on the radio and said, ‘You need at least a tenth.’ So, we went for it, dug deep and the NAPA Auto Parts Andretti Honda has been so good since we rolled off. We’ve never been lower than fifth. It’s amazing to finally accomplish this, especially on the back of the announcement on Friday and I think it’s been a long time coming, so it’s just nice to finally get that. The whole team has been working so hard and they deserve this. This championship, there’s so much that can go on. With weather coming, that adds another variable, but we’re clicking at a level that we haven’t in the past and the momentum is on our side. We just have to capitalize and enjoy this for the next 30 minutes, then focus on the work we have to do tomorrow.”
Rossi speeds to first career pole with late Glen heroics
WATKINS GLEN, New York (Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017) – Alexander Rossi’s weekend of great news continued today when he won the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen.
A day after it was announced he would return to Andretti Autosport next season in a multiyear deal along with sponsor NAPA Auto Parts, Rossi clocked a dramatic last lap of 1 minute, 22.4639 seconds (147.119 mph) on Watkins Glen International’s high-risk, high-reward permanent road course. It was the fastest lap in the Firestone Fast Six, the third and final round of knockout qualifying, to earn Rossi the first pole position in his 32-race Verizon IndyCar Series career.
INDYCAR GRAND PRIX AT THE GLEN: Qualifying results
“It was a big lap we needed,” said Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner and driver of the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda. “The lap before was pretty good, but they came on the radio and said, ‘You need at least a tenth (of a second quicker),’ so we went for it.
“It’s amazing to finally accomplish this, especially on the back of the announcement on Friday. I think it’s been a long time coming, so it’s just nice to finally get that. The whole team has been working so hard and they deserve this.”
Rossi was the last of the Firestone Fast Six drivers on the 3.37-mile, 11-turn circuit at the session’s end, crossing the timing line to win the pole as the others were in pit lane. The 25-year-old Californian’s best previous qualifying effort was third on two occasions, both on ovals this season at Indianapolis and Texas.
Rossi will lead the 21-car field to the green flag in Sunday’s 60-lap race (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network). In winning the pole, he denied Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon the chance to edge closer to championship leader Josef Newgarden in the point standings.
Dixon settled for the second starting spot with a lap of 1:22.5168 (147.025 mph) in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda that nipped Newgarden by one ten-thousandth of a second.
“Front row is definitely decent,” said Dixon, the four-time series champion and four-time Watkins Glen race winner. “The frustrating part is that we had plenty in hand.
“We caught Helio (Castroneves on track) so quickly. I don’t know what he was doing out there, he was just sort of cruising around. We caught him way too fast with two laps to go. Maybe we should have backed off on the second-to-last lap (to open a gap). I think we had probably another three or four tenths (of a second) in the car. Definitely frustrating to lose it that way.”
Regardless, Dixon is the only driver to reach all eight Firestone Fast Six rounds contested this season and has earned a top-five starting position in each of his eight visits to Watkins Glen. Dixon also broke his year-old track record in the second round of qualifying with a lap of 1:22.4171 (147.202 mph).
Newgarden, holding a 31-point lead over Dixon heading into Sunday’s race, will start third in the No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet following a lap of 1:22.5169 (147.024 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six.
“I think I messed up a pole run, to be honest with you,” Newgarden said. “I lost two or three tenths (of a second) in the final corner.
“I just deuced it, totally messed it up, lost a couple tenths (in Turn 9). Great lap time, good starting position for us. I feel so silly for messing up what could have been a pole position.”
Takuma Sato, Rossi’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, qualified fourth in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (1:22.5660, 146.937 mph). Charlie Kimball was fifth in the No. 83 Tresiba Honda (1:22.8081, 146.507 mph), with Castroneves sixth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet (1:23.3350, 145.581 mph).
Newgarden, Dixon, Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud (who qualified 12th), Will Power (qualified eighth), Graham Rahal (qualified 10th), Rossi and Sato all remain mathematically alive for the championship. Drivers must be within 104 points of the leader following the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen – with only the double-points GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 17 remaining on the schedule.
VeeKay wins USF2000 race, Askew claims championship
Rinus VeeKay (Pabst Racing) took the lead from pole sitter Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports) with a Turn 1 pass on the first lap and drove on to win the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda season-ending race at Watkins Glen, but Askew finished second to take home the championship.
With the title, Askew earned his third Mazda scholarship in a year – this one to advance to Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires competition in 2018. Askew, from Jupiter, Florida, won a Team USA Scholarship to represent his nation in prestigious races in England last fall, then won the $200,000 Mazda Shootout to earn a USF2000 ride this season. It is also the seventh straight driver’s title won by Cape Motorsports.
“I’ve dreamt about this moment for so long,” Askew said after his eleventh podium in 14 races this season. “It’s such a huge weight off my shoulders, to be champion.”
Franzoni wins Pro Mazda opener to expand lead over Martin
Victor Franzoni (Juncos Racing) passed Anthony Martin (Cape Motorsports) heading into Watkins Glen’s famed Bus Stop for the lead on Lap 12 and drove away to win the first Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires race of the Watkins Glen doubleheader weekend to conclude the season.
By scoring maximum points in the race and capturing the pole for Sunday’s second race, Franzoni extended his unofficial championship lead over Martin to nine points.
“What They’re Saying” from INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen practice
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “We made a few changes to the Menards Chevy and we made some gains in the second session today. I think we are getting closer. But it looks like weather is going to play a factor this weekend so we have to keep an eye on that and figure out the best way to adjust. I feel good about the direction we are going.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good day for the DeVilbiss Chevrolet team. I think there are still some things to find and some room to grow. The pace of the car is good, but the differences are so small in the Verizon IndyCar Series. You can’t leave a stone unturned. If you do, then you’re behind. We’ll continue to look at the data and collect all of the information from my teammates. It’s important to have it ready for qualifying tomorrow, so that’s what we’ll do.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “We were really happy with the Hitachi Chevy in the second practice session. We made a lot of improvements from the morning. We ran into a little traffic and we had a little incident where we went off track briefly, but after we came in and looked at the car we actually went faster so it was all good. I’m really looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”
CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I think today was a good day for us. We missed out on running a second set of black tires in the first session which is a shame. But we made a good improvement in the second session. It’s close again as usual. I think we have a good direction to go and we’re not far out of that top 12 so that’s what we have to aim for tomorrow.”
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “It all happened very quickly. I’m not sure if something failed or what it was. This morning the Gallagher car was quick, and then this afternoon we’ve been battling a balance problem and we really didn’t change anything. I went through the bus stop and caught it once, and then when I went back to the throttle it came back around. I’m not sure if something broke in the rear but it’s very unusual. This is a track that really works for me and for something to happen like that when I wasn’t pushing that hard is very bizarre.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): “The NTT Data car was really fast out there. We still have a little bit of work to do out there, but the team brought some really good race cars to Watkins Glen this weekend. The team is very strong here – these high-speed road courses like Mid-Ohio are where we seem to excel. I think this place really suits my driving style and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s qualifying.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “We struggled a little bit today, especially in that first practice. We found a problem with the car during the first session, but with it being a shorter session, we couldn’t fix it until after that practice ended and we got back to the garage. Because of that, we spent this afternoon playing catch up, but I think we have a pretty good idea on a direction to go. Out of the four cars on our team, I was the only one who didn’t come here to test earlier in the season because I was in Le Mans and then Dixon came here by himself. It’s a momentum track, so it takes you a little bit to really get going. I would say we have a high possibility to be in the Firestone Fast Six tomorrow, but it’s going to be really hard to beat Dixon out there especially after having a start like that.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “We learned a lot today. The Verizon Chevy was pretty good. It was good to get a feel of the red tires (Firestone alternate) versus the black tires (Firestone primary). I feel like the course has changed a little over the last year, but it’s still super fast. Qualifying is important as ever. It’s not easy to pass here and I don’t think the weather will affect it that much should it be wet on Sunday. Maybe before everyone is able to get their braking zones figured out. Overall, though, it was a good day and we look forward to some fine tuning tomorrow in practice before qualifying.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “First my mechanic Pat (Jordan) is good. Hopefully he will have a quick recovery. I feel sorry for him – it was my mistake. It was an okay day as far as practice goes. We did some changes for Practice 2, but it didn’t work as we planned. We thought we’d go quicker but we didn’t. We have to think about tomorrow and make a good prep.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “Overall, it was a very good day. I feel like we made really good gains on the setup. The car rolled off the trailer extremely competitive and that’s what you need because you don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel during the weekend. The guys have done a great job. The car is close. Do we want to be a little bit better? Yes, but overall we are pretty close. This is a phenomenal place. There is a lot of grip, and the track is very smooth just as we left it last year. It should be a great race this weekend.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): “We’re a bit lost with the set up. I thought the car was pretty close this morning and that the car just needed a couple of tweaks. We found what we thought was going to be the solution to our issue and applied it for the afternoon session, but we ended up going backwards. We’re fighting the car in the quick corners and understeer in the slow corners. It’s not a happy recipe right now, just very difficult. We’ll keep at it and see what we can do. That said, it feels good to be out there, for sure, but we’re all competitors and being in the car just doesn’t do it. You want to be in the car and feel good and be fighting at the front.”
ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “We had a decent morning and then we made some changes to try and improve the car for the afternoon, but it didn’t work at all. So we struggled a lot in the second session. We have a lot of work to do for tomorrow. Nothing felt right, but we’ll work on it and hopefully tomorrow will be much better.”
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “We had a pretty good session this morning, but seemed to struggle a little bit this afternoon. I thought we made some improvements in the first session and while we tried a couple of different things this afternoon, it didn’t work out the way we had planned. Hopefully we can go back and get the same kind of feeling we had from the car this morning.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I really enjoy Watkins Glen. I’m definitely hopeful we can be quick here because I like the place a lot. It was a weird couple of sessions for us today. We’ve got a couple of things going on with the car that we’re having a hard time explaining right now. We’re going to work to get to the bottom of it and get a better feel for what we need to be doing and address how to go quicker tomorrow. That’s pretty much our main goal. We’ll do a little bit of problem solving tonight and we’ll see where we can pick up some time.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It was a productive day. We had a good test here about a month ago, but the conditions today were quite different – I guess that is due to the change in wind direction. I was quite surprised at how different (the car) acted and we had to catch a lot of balance to correct it. In the end, the car was better, not the best though. We still have a lot of work to do before tomorrow to find the speed, but it was a positive direction. Hopefully tomorrow morning is better.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): “We had a pretty decent start to the day and showed some competitive speeds in the first practice. Everything was going good in Practice 2, then about midway through we lost balance in the rear in a big way. Not having rear grip really hurt my pace. We went from running decent to running bad. We need to get the rear grip back and hopefully it will help.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Following a really good test here, we’re scratching our heads in a few areas because I was really happy with the DHL car a few weeks ago. Hopefully we’ll find it tonight when we put our heads together and hopefully roll out with a better car tomorrow. With all that said, we’re not that far off – we’re within in reach, we just need to make the necessary changes.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “This afternoon was a nice recovery after the morning session. We had an electrical issue that kept us from running during the first practice, but the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys did a great job getting it all fixed up and tuned up. We were able to get a few good laps in this afternoon. I’m pretty happy to be inside the top 10, but obviously tomorrow we’ll be aiming higher for the Firestone Fast Six. We need to make the car a little bit better, handling-wise and setup-wise, but I think we’ve got a good direction heading into tomorrow’s sessions.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): “It was a pretty good Friday. I think we’re pretty competitive up to third, but the top two guys are a bit ahead of us. It’s the normal culprits on high-commitment road courses, so we’ll work overnight. There’s a bit of room in the car that I think we know where it is to improve. Overall, we’re feeling confident in the NAPA Auto Parts car this weekend.”