Auto Club Speedway Friday Notebook

Story posted - Sep 15 2012 12:32 AM

ANDRETTI WINS POLE; TITLE CONTENDERS TAKE GRID PENALTIES

FONTANA, Calif. (Sept. 14, 2012) - The IZOD IndyCar Series championship contenders will start the title-deciding race mid-pack and further back following qualifications for the Sept. 15 MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships at Auto Club Speedway.

Will Power takes a 17-point lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay entering the 250-lap race on the 2-mile oval. Power qualified third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car with a two-lap average speed of 215.940 mph. Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car for Andretti Autosport, qualified 17that 212.773 mph.

Both will incur 10 grid spot penalties for fitting their sixth Chevrolet engines of the season (series rules specify five fresh engines per year of the engine manufacturer agreement).

"Not a great qualifying run for us but it's a 500-mile race so really not that bummed about it," said Hunter-Reay, who has two short-oval victories this season. "We just hadn't dialed our qualifying trim in with the DHL/Sun Drop car and that caught us out a bit. We missed the balance and (the car) took off on me a bit there at the exit. It was definitely hard to put a good two laps together.

"We've been focusing on the race though. That's the big thing."

There are a myriad of scenarios for either driver to claim their first series title. In a nutshell, Power wins the $1 million bonus if he finishes ahead of Hunter-Reay.

"It's a 500-mile race. We are focused on the things we can control," he said. "We are going to do what we can and see how it ends up. Just hang in there, just stay there and hopefully have a shot."

Marco Andretti earned his first pole start since Milwaukee in 2008 (76 races) with a two-lap average of 216.773 mph in the No. 26 Team RC Cola car for Andretti Autosport.

"It means a lot with what we have been going through this year," said Andretti, who has one top-five finish through the first 14 races. "It's just been a very trying year for me and my career. It's good for the confidence."

Also on Sept. 14, Sebastian Saavedra earned the pole for the Firestone Indy Lights Auto Club Speedway Foundation 100.

Saavedra, who also is competing in the IZOD IndyCar Series race, posted a two-lap average speed of 189.640 mph in the No. 27 Team AFS car. He was 0.2636 of a second quicker than Carlos Munoz in the No. 26 Team Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport.

Esteban Guerrieri, who enters the 50-lap race 11 points behind Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Tristan Vautier in the championship standings, will start on Row 2. Vautier will start fifth in the title-deciding race.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

The MAVTV 500 will be the 11th Indy car race at Auto Club Speedway and the fifth IZOD IndyCar Series event. It will be the first race at the facility since 2005, that race was won by Dario Franchitti.

***

The CART and Champ Car held six Indy car races at Auto Club Speedway from 1997-2002. Mauricio Gugelmin won the pole for the first Indy car race at Auto Club Speedway in 1997. Mark Blundell won the race.

***

Jimmy Vasser, Adrian Fernandez and Sam Hornish Jr., are the only driver to win at Auto Club Speedway more than once. Vasser won in 1998 and 2002; Fernandez won in 1999 and 2004 and Hornish won back-to-back races in 2002 and 2003. Dario Franchitti (2005) is the only past winner entered in the MAVTV 500.

***

Five drivers who have won the pole at Auto Club Speedway are entered in the MAVTV 500. They are: Alex Tagliani (2001), Tony Kanaan (2002), Helio Castroneves (2003), Scott Dixon (2004) and Dario Franchitti (2005).

***

Dario Franchitti (2005) is the only driver to win at Auto Club Speedway from the pole position.

***

Seven drivers entered in the event - Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, Oriol Servia and Alex Tagliani - have made at least one Indy car start at Auto Club Speedway. Nineteen (19) drivers in the field will attempt to make their first start at the track.

IZOD IndyCar Series Championship Facts:

• Will Power leads the IZOD IndyCar Series championship with one race remaining for the third straight season. He has failed to win the championship in the previous two seasons.

• Power leads Ryan Hunter-Reay by 17 points. It's the fifth-smallest lead that Power has held this season. He led by 5 points after Mid-Ohio, 10 points after Round 1 at Brazil and 11 points after Indianapolis and Iowa.

• There are four drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series championship: Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon.

• Four drivers - Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Briscoe - were eliminated from championship contention at Baltimore.

• This is the fifth IZOD IndyCar Series event at Auto Club Speedway. Sam Hornish Jr. (2002) is the only driver to win at Auto Club Speedway and the championship in the same season.

***

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR Medical Director: Justin Wilson has been checked and released from the infield care center. He is cleared to drive.

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny's BBQ Honda): "I was going into Turn 1, and I was on new tires. I was starting my second lap. I'm not sure why it didn't stick. It's disappointing; it set our whole weekend back. We'll just have to work on trying to get the car ready for tomorrow now."

***

Justin Wilson says that Dr. Sid Watkins was so respected in the Formula One community "that if he said the cars could drive on the moon we would drive on the moon."

Watkins, who was instrumental in advancement of safety procedures and protocols during his 26 years as the FIA Formula One safety and medical delegate, died Sept. 13. He was 84.

"I never had any close encounters with him, fortunately," said Wilson, who competed in F1 in 2003 for Minardi and Jaguar Racing and now drives for Dale Coyne Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series. "He was one of those people that even when you walk up to him, before he says anything, you can just tell he's a caring guy who has everyone's best interests at heart. He had that aura around him; everyone did everything he said.

"He'd been there in some of Formula One's most tragic times and in some of it best times and helped progressed safety from some of those tragic times. He's been a huge part of what we know as open-wheel racing."

Primarily through Watkins' efforts following the accident at Monza in 1978 that claimed the life of Ronnie Peterson, a medical helicopter, mobile hospital and vehicle to get a doctor to the scene of accidents was adopted as standard procedure.

He retired after the 2004 F1 season.

SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING REPORT

Sunoco Pole Qualifying consists of one warm-up laps followed by a two-lap qualifying attempt. Cars are ranked in order based on the quickest cumulative time. Only one attempt is allowed per car. One-lap record: James Chesson, 37.6756, 191.105 mph (Oct. 2004); Fastest Firestone Indy Lights lap today: #26 Carlos Munoz, 37.9720 seconds, 189.813 mph (Practice 1).

At 1 p.m., the ambient temperature was 101 degrees with a relative humidity of 11 percent. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 134 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

Time of Day


Car


Driver


Time


Speed


Rank

1 p.m.


76


Juan Pablo Garcia


1:16.8902


187.280


1

1:03 p.m.


7


Oliver Webb


1:16.8355


187.413


1

1:05 p.m.


3


Victor Carbone


1:17.0836


186.810


3

1:07 p.m.


77


Tristan Vautier


1:16.8225


187.445


1

1:09 p.m.


22


David Ostella


1:16.9087


187.235


4

1:12 p.m.


24


Stefan Wilson


1:17.6851


185.364


6

1:15 p.m.


4


Jorge Goncalvez


1:16.5781


188.043


1

1:17 p.m.


19


Mike Larrison


1:20.2958


179.337


7

1:20 p.m.


11


Esteban Guerrieri


1:16.3421


188.625


1

1:22 p.m.


26


Carlos Munoz


1:16.1920


188.984


1

1:24 p.m.


86


Bruno Palli


1:17.9675


184.692


10

1:27 p.m.


2


Gustavo Yacaman


1:16.9376


187.165


8

1:30 p.m.


27


Sebastian Saavedra


1:15.9334


189.640


1

No. 9 Dempsey will not make a qualifying attempt. Crew reports it is changing the engine after Practice #1.



SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

· This is Sebastian Saavedra's third pole of 2012 and his sixthpole in Firestone Indy Lights. He was previously on pole at Barber and Long Beach. He won from pole at Barber.

· This is AFS/Andretti Autosport's fourth pole of 2012 and its first 1-2 qualifying of the season.

· Carlos Munoz qualified second and on the front row for the third time in the last four races.

· Title contenders Esteban Guerrieri and Tristan Vautier qualified third and fifth, respectively.

· Jorge Goncalvez qualified fourth, matching his season-best qualifying effort at Indianapolis.



SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:



SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Team AFS, Sunoco Pole Award winner): "It was great to have Carlos (Munoz) go ahead of us, he gave me great information that I used for my run, and that was it. We've had great cars, we tested here very early in the season and for sure, we build up good momentum. Very excited about this pole, it's one more point that we have in the championship. And for me, one more qualifying session to go." (What is the plan for tomorrow?) "For sure I want to win. We are racers. We want to win every race, right? I'm going to go out there and try to win this and finish the season on a high note. We've been doing an incredible job during the 2012 season, couple of bad luck situations, but in the end that's racing. I'm very excited to put the No. 27 car up there and the complete support that the Andretti crew has given us has been amazing."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Team Dialy-Ser): "It's not really that warm when you sit in the car and you're so nervous and concentrated you don't really feel that hot. I'm a little sad, because I was first all the session and then my teammate (Sebastian Saavedra) just got the pole position. But anyway, I know it's a long race tomorrow, it's 100 miles, so everything could happen. Now we have the second free practice so we have to focus now on the race tomorrow. It's nice to have my teammate side-by-side. I think we have to work tomorrow together to have a good race."

ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM with Curb-Agajanian): "I had a touch of understeer on my second flying lap in Turn 3 and we lost a tenth. The car feels good though, and I'll have a good race car. I'm happy. The race will be long. It will be very hot tomorrow, 100 degrees. It will be greasy and important how we manage our tires. In the second practice session, we'll see how fast the tires drop off. The engineers will be important in setting up the car for the race." (About championship scenarios): "One extra point would have been great. Now that we've qualified and we know the final points, we can look at the race. I know I just need to win the race and lead the most laps. That's the plan."

JORGE GONCALVEZ (No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing): "I think I got a really good lap. We'll see how it works out in the end, but I'm pretty happy right now. We have a fast car and we need to go for the race."



TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM with Curb-Agajanian): "The car was good. There are still a lot of drivers to go and I don't know if we have enough to get pole. Apparently, I lost some time in Turns 3 and 4, so I'll have to figure out what I did wrong. We think right now we're missing just a little something, but we're working on it for the race tomorrow. We'll try to make the most out of the last practice, and we'll see what happens." (About championship scenarios): "I have a few scenarios, but to be honest, I did not calculate all of them. I think if you worry about it too much, it's the best way to screw it up. I for sure looked at them and I know what I need to do, but the main thing is to take it as a normal weekend and see what happens at the end."



OLIVER WEBB (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): ""The way the car was handling, I was pretty happy with it. I'll speak with the team and see how the other guys handle. It's just nice to be able to go out straightaway and be flat all around because we've had issues with that like at Iowa when I was lifting too early. I'm happy with that run."



JUAN PABLO GARCIA (No. 76 Freightliner Jeffrey Mark Motorsports): "The car felt a lot better today than when we tested in Fontana awhile back, and I'm also much more familiar with the track now. I'm really happy with the way the car handled on each of my qualifying laps. I think we were pretty fast with an average of 187.28 mph. We've made so many improvements between testing in Fontana until now. It's just great to start a race weekend off in such a positive way. I think it's the best start to a race weekend we've had all year. I just hope it translates over to a great result to end our season."

VICTOR CARBONE (No. 3 Mav TV/Nevoni/SSM with Curb-Agajanian): "We just don't have the speed right now. We'll go back to the truck and see what happened. The car is quite good, it just doesn't have the speed. I looked down in the cockpit, and especially on the second lap, we just didn't see speed. It was slower than my first lap."

MIKE LARRISON (No. 19 Belardi/TruFuel/Royal Oak Charcoal): "We've been making changes to the car to get me more comfortable, and after only two laps in qualifying, I'm looking forward to checking out the second practice this afternoon. I have to thank my sponsors, Royal Purple, Royal Oak Charcoal, TruFuel and the whole Belardi Auto Racing team for continuing to work hard to prepare a great race car for me."

PETER DEMPSEY (No. 9 Belardi/TruFuel): "Unfortunately we weren't able to qualify because we needed to change the engine in the No. 9 TruFuel/MoeryLAI/Belardi Auto Racing car. We are looking forward to getting back out there for the second practice session, however, and tomorrow's race will definitely be a good show."

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES QUALIFYING REPORT

IZOD IndyCar Series Pole Qualifying consists of two warm-up laps followed by a two-lap qualifying attempt. Cars are ranked in order based on the quickest cumulative time. Only one attempt is allowed per car. One-lap record: Helio Castroneves, 31.7521, 226.757 mph (Sept. 2003); Fastest IZOD IndyCar Series lap today: #2 Ryan Briscoe, 33.1008 seconds, 217.517 mph (Practice 1).

At 2:15 p.m., the ambient temperature was 102 degrees with a relative humidity of 12 percent. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 139 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

Time of Day


Car


Driver


Time


Speed


Rank

2:15 p.m.


10


Dario Franchitti


1:07.9247


211.999


1

2:18 p.m.


28


Ryan Hunter-Reay


1:07.6778


212.773


1

2:21 p.m.


26


Marco Andretti


1:06.6455


216.069


1

2:24 p.m.


20


Ed Carpenter


1:07.0753


214.684


2

2:26 p.m.


83


Charlie Kimball


1:08.0751


211.531


5

2:29 p.m.


17


Sebastian Saavedra


1:08.3699


210.619


6

2:32 p.m.


14


Wade Cunningham


1:08.7265


209.526


7

2:35 p.m.


12


Will Power


1:06.6851


215.940


2

2:37 p.m.


27


James Hinchcliffe


1:07.3760


213.726


4

2:40 p.m.


19


James Jakes


1:09.2120


208.056


10

2:43 p.m.


77


Simon Pagenaud


1:07.5164


213.282


5

2:45 p.m.


9


Scott Dixon


1:06.8553


215.391


3

2:47 p.m.


22


Oriol Servia


1:07.7541


212.533


7

2:50 p.m.


2


Ryan Briscoe


1:06.6487


216.058


2

2:53 p.m.


11


Tony Kanaan


1:07.0151


214.887


5

2:55 p.m.


67


Josef Newgarden


1:06.6918


215.919


4

2:59 p.m.


5


E.J. Viso


1:08.5276


210.134


15

#18 Wilson does not make an attempt. Team is repairing damage sustained in contact this morning.

3:01 p.m.


15


Takuma Sato


1:07.5354


213.222


10

#78 De Silvestro does not make an attempt. Team is changing engine after to mechanical failure in practice #1

3:05 p.m.


8


Rubens Barrichello


1:07.4389


213.527


8

3:07 p.m.


4


JR Hildebrand


1:07.0549


214.749


7

3:09 p.m.


6


Katherine Legge


1:07.5080


213.308


11

3:12 p.m.


3


Helio Castroneves


1:07.1615


214.409


9

3:14 p.m.


38


Graham Rahal


1:07.2851


214.015


10

3:16 p.m.


98


Alex Tagliani


1:06.9065


215.226


6

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES QUALIFYING NOTES:

Marco Andretti won his first IZOD IndyCar Series pole award of 2012 and the second pole of his career. His last pole came at Milwaukee in 2008 - a span of 76 starts.
Ryan Briscoe qualified second - his fifth front row qualifying effort of the season.
Points leader Will Power qualified third, his 12th top-five qualifying effort of the season and his best qualifying performance on an oval.
Josef Newgarden qualified fourth, his best qualifying performance in the IZOD IndyCar Series. His previous best qualifying was seventh, which he had done three times.
Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified 17th, his worst qualifying position in 2012. His previous worst position was 15th at Texas.
During qualifying, track temperatures ranged from 136-142 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to fry an egg on the asphalt racing surface.

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES QUALIFYING QUOTES:

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet, IZOD IndyCar Series pole award winner): "(Winning pole) means a lot. Just what we have been going through this year. Me in particular just been a very trying year for me and my career. It's good for the confidence, but we still got to get a race car under us tonight which I think we can do. But credit to the whole RC team, but the whole Andretti Autosport is just taking a huge step up this year. And let the best man win tomorrow." (About his season) "Toughest part of my career. It is inspiring me to work harder outside the track and work harder in the car and still try to see what I need in the set up to get me quick, because I am not going to be quick on these tracks. And a little bit of leading luck will help."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was very unpredictable. I was the first of my team's cars, too. Wind changes, the whole track changes. I had totally different balance to what I had all weekend. Yeah, I mean, man, I got hard limiter both laps down the back straight on a bump. Yup, starting grid. Sometimes I'm glad when I start on pole. Every time, if I start on pole, it's bad. Start back in the pack, it's great. Hopefully that's true here (laughter). So, yeah, it is what it is. It's a 500-mile race. It would have been nice to get the point. Yeah, we'll see tomorrow. Just hang in there, just stay there and hopefully have a shot." (About strategy for the race): "We are focused on the things we can control. Things are out of your control in the race. We are going to do what we can, and see how it ends up."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE Chevrolet): "It was good. On my warm-up lap, I run the limiter up in turn three on that bump, so I went to the top gear which wasn't ideal. It was sort of dragging around the track, but I didn't hit the limiter. I went into qualifying saying there are two things I need to do. I need to be flat (full throttle), and I need to not be in the limiter. So I just went to the tall gear, and it was a bit sluggish. But the car was good. I was able to hold a pretty good line around the whole track. We just missed it. It is good. In a race like this, it doesn't matter where you start, but the prestige of pole is always something. It would have been nice."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "We were pretty flat out, and maybe we could have trimmed out a little more. It was hard for us though because we couldn't come in too aggressive in qualifying after having an issue that caused us to miss practice. We weren't sure about the temperature and didn't want to risk too much. Coming into this race, we talked a lot about how I don't want a car that's going to sit on pole. I want a car that's going to be comfortable, reliable and consistent for the entire race. That's what we're working on. We want to have a good race car that can run a ton of laps. If we have that, then we can run up front and compete up front."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports): "The HP team made big improvements to the car from this morning to this afternoon. We went quicker and it's warmer. So, we made massive improvements. We are looking in the right direction. There is quite a bit of room for improvement, for sure, but I think we put our finger on what we needed. We'll do more work in practice tonight which will be the most important moment of the weekend, preparing the car for the race."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "After our warm-up lap of 214 (mph.), I thought we might have a shot to beat Marco's (Andretti) speed. But we built a little too much understeer in the car, and I had to lift in Turn 2. It is fun here though. I'm enjoying this track. I thought it would be bumpier than back in 2005 when we were here before. But it's smoother than Kentucky. The (chassis) package for this track is hard but I like it. It's a better package than what we ran at Texas. If we were going to race in conditions like this with the speed, it wouldn't be good. But the track will cool off for Saturday night's race. I think the fans will be happy with the racing for the 500. The track temperature was 140 degrees. That is hot. For the race, the track will cool down and produce a lot of grip for the cars. This track is tricky for everyone up and down the pit lane. Of all of the places we've run this year, I think there are more racing lanes here. You will see guys run on the white stripe and others up against the wall in the race. This will be my first 500-mile race other than Indy. I was thinking about going and talking to some of the guys who raced 500 miles here before. It's different than Indy. Indy is intense. But you have a 5/8-mile straight to take a breath. You don't get that luxury here. It will be a long night."

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): "We blew up the engine in practice this morning and we just weren't ready to go out for qualifying. It's a shame, because the team was here really late last night putting the engine in. But, that's racing. It is what it is."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "We have to focus a little bit on everything this off season. The team, myself and Honda all need to improve and get a bit more consistent. We'll have a busy winter here for everyone on the Target team trying to improve for next season. But any year you can win (the) Indy (500) and finish 1-2 is a good year. Today in qualifying the car just had a lot of oversteer in Turns 1 and 2 and I thought I was in the fence. The same thing happened this morning, and we thought we fixed it. It snapped way out of line and I managed to catch it but I had to lift and that was that."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "It's a lot of fun running here at Auto Club Speedway both back in the Champ Car days and now back here in Indy cars. The formula that INDYCAR brought back here for this weekend is going to be fantastic and I think everyone here will get a little taste of it here tonight for practice under the lights. Tomorrow night the last half of the race will be awesome with cars running three or four different lines."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "I had a decent qualifying run. I am little concerned about the race. In my opinion the car is a little sketchy on the downforce that we have chosen for the race, but I respect IndyCar's decision on that and we will make the best out of it."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet): "The day started exactly like we wanted. We did a great job in both practice sessions. We qualified on the pole for Firestone Indy Lights, which was great. We want to end the season on a high note. We just need to continue working and improving the Indy car because tomorrow will be a long race. I don't see our INDYCAR qualifying being as important as Indy Lights is, since it will be so long. I believe jumping from one car to the other does mess with your head a little bit. I think I should have improved a little bit in the Indy car, but I am comfortable to bring the car home and focus on the race."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "The morning practice session was a little frustrating. We did very little running and we wanted to do a lot because we had many things we wanted to try that we carried over from the test in August but we just couldn't do it. Still I think we got everything together for qualifying and we are satisfied with the speed that we achieved which was the best we did in all of the laps, including the practice sessions and the test before. The conditions were not easy; very high temperatures and a little less grip overall. But I was reasonably happy with the balance so I could commit. There is still a lot of work to do in the final practice tonight."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club Team Penske Chevrolet): "Qualifying did not go the way we expected. The speed we felt was a little bit better, especially what we had in practice. Conditions are very difficult for everybody; over 100 degrees. When you have to do an average speed (two laps of qualifying) is becoming very difficult. What happened is the first lap was a tremendous push in turn one. I adjusted myself in the second lap, and we were able to gain two mile-an-hour from one lap to another. It is what it is. We have a great car. The Auto Club of Southern California car is actually very fast during race conditions. We are looking forward to tomorrow."

RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "I am happy with my result. We are obviously very lucky because so many drivers have got penalties so I have moved up some places. This morning, I had very little running as we were trying lots of things, so I ended up going blind into qualifying with a totally different car. But, I am happy. I think we have done okay and will now work on our race setup for tomorrow."



WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "On the run: "Not too bad-not great on the timesheets but it's not too uncomfortable. Obviously we're just trying to make small gains for tomorrow and work on race setup. That was the first time we'd given it full welly with new tires. The winds had shifted a bit from this morning so the ends changed a little bit, so I struggled with being loose in 3 and a push at the other end. It was a bit of a battle out there in qualifying and we missed the gearing as well so we lost a bit of momentum on that second lap and it killed us."



CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "I'm pretty happy with the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car. It was pretty quick. Especially when the sun goes down, that's what will really matter. With a 500-mile race, you can go front-to-back a few times, so it's more about the racecar than it is qualifying here. The temperature is going to be so different. When the sun goes down, it can drop 10 to 15 degrees and that's going to be a factor in tomorrow's race."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): "It's a great recovery today by the Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing team. Martin (Pare), our engineer, did a great job. The car wasn't very comfortable earlier today. We made a lot of improvements and made it a lot better. We qualified 11th, and that's not exactly where we want to be but we're pretty happy. We're going to keep working on this racecar and we'll go racing tomorrow."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "It's a scorcher out here today and it's going to be a hot race, even at night. It's very difficult track conditions with the track being this hot and we haven't done a whole lot of qualifying-sim work with the Go Daddy Chevy. We've been working a lot on the race car which I think is going to be important. We need to make sure that Ryan (Hunter-Reay) has the best car - we all have the best cars that we can possibly have when we roll on the grid tomorrow. We have four cars to try and work on different setups and make sure that all of us, but especially the 28, are ready to go out there and do well and try to bring this title back home to Andretti Autosport."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): "Not a great qualifying run for us but it's a 500-mile race, so I'm really not that bummed about it. We just hadn't dialed our qualifying trim in with the DHL/Sun Drop car and that caught us out a bit. We missed the balance and (the car) took off on me a bit there at the exit. It was definitely hard to put a good two laps together. We've been focusing on the race though - that's the big thing, we haven't done any qualifying runs today so it's something that we just haven't really put a lot of time into. Tonight we'll go out and work on race trim and get these four Andretti cars up front."

Selected quotes from Randy Bernard's informal media availability:

(About Engine Penalties)"I flew all over the world two years ago and talked to engine manufacturers and one of the first things they said was, 'We've seen what engines can cost you there, and we don't want any part of that.' So we had to come up with a type of rule that allowed it very fair to let everyone have equal opportunity and the way we did it was a way to keep costs down. So you can't build tons of engines. Does it work to our fans that are confused? No. But does it work to keep the cost of our engines down and keep our competition thriving not at the expense of the engine manufactures, yes it does that." (Will we have enough engines next year?) "No doubt. That's very important to us." (About Mike Conway) "I like Mike a lot, but I think everyone knows that racing is very dangerous. I haven't talked to him so I haven't heard him say what drove him to his decision." (About 2013 schedule) "I want to have a complete schedule finished and out by October 1st. That's a hard deadline and we are getting real close. What we are making sure happens this year is that we have signed contracts before we put them on the schedule. We will put all of our schedule out on the same day." (Will there be doubleheaders?) "I think it's definitely something we want to try, at a minimum two races. I think it will give you double exposure for viewership in those markets if we pick the right markets. We want to make sure that we can make very great races."

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS FINAL PRACTICE:

At 4:45 p.m., the ambient temperature was 103 degrees with a relative humidity of 12 percent. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 123 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

4:45 p.m. - GREEN.

5:14 p.m. - Firestone Indy Lights officials have penalized #9 Dempsey with drive-through penalty for putting two wheels below the white line.

5:30 p.m. - CHECKERED.

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES FINAL PRACTICE:

At 5:45 p.m., the ambient temperature was 99 degrees with a relative humidity of 18 percent. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 113 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

5:45 p.m. - GREEN.

5:59 p.m. - YELLOW. Track inspection.

6:07 p.m. - GREEN.

6:25 p.m. - YELLOW. #14 Cunningham makes contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2.

6:30 p.m. - GREEN. Session will be extended by five minutes.

6:35 p.m. - CHECKERED.

***

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR Medical Director: Wade Cunningham has been checked and released from the infield care center. He is cleared to drive.

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing): I was exploring different lines on the track and I hadn't been that aggressive changing lanes. Just judged it on the seams of the track and got caught out. (Was there're another car involved): "There was someone leaving pit lane, and I thought for a while I was going to get them, but luckily they got on the gas and got out of my way.

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE:

11 a.m. - Garages open

2:20 - 2:25 p.m. - Systems check

3 p.m. - Firestone Indy Lights Auto Club Speedway Foundation 100 (50 laps/100 miles), NBC Sports Network (Taped, 4 p.m. (ET), Sept. 20).

7:30 p.m. - IZOD IndyCar Series MAVTV 500 (250 laps/500 miles), NBC Sports Network (Live).

Media Contact: Amy Konrath, INDYCAR, 317-331-7437, akonrath@indycar.com



 
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