FRANCHITTI CLAIMS VERIZON P1 AWARD AT LONG BEACH

Story posted - Apr 21 2013 12:20 AM

FRANCHITTI CLAIMS VERIZON P1 AWARD AT LONG BEACH

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Saturday, April 20, 2013) - Dario Franchitti, who is competing in his 250th Indy car race, claimed the Verizon P1 Award for the 39th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion, who won the race in 2009, posted a quick lap of 1 minute, 07.2379 seconds in the waning seconds of the 10-minute Firestone Fast Six on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit to earn his first pole start since Toronto last July.

It was the 30th pole (tied with Sebastien Bourdais for seventh all time) of his Indy car career, which began in 1997. Franchitti is seeking to break a tie with Bourdais and Paul Tracy with his 32nd victory. His last win was the 2012 Indianapolis 500.

Five different teams were represented in the Firestone Fast Six and eight comprised Round 2 (12 cars), when Mike Conway set an IZOD IndyCar Series track record of 1:07.1937. Bourdais, competing in the 2006 Champ Car race, holds the record for the current configuration at 1:06.886.

Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was .0555 of a second behind Franchitti in the No. 1 DHL car for Andretti Autosport and will start on the front row for the second consecutive race.

Will Power, last year's race winner, and Takuma Sato will share Row 2. It was the first time since 2008 that Power has not started on the front row at Long Beach. He went on to win that race.

Also on April 20, Carlos Munoz earned his third consecutive Sunoco Pole Award with a last-lap, track-record lap of 1:12.9374 for the Long Beach 100 on April 21. It supplanted Jack Hawksworth, who seconds before jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:13.3324.

The front-row starters are the same for the third race in a row in the young season, and each driver has a victory. Getting to the front was a victory of sorts for Hawksworth, the Firestone Indy Lights points leader who crashed in practice less than 24 hours earlier.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew worked for more than seven hours into the evening to convert a backup car, which is the same car that Esteban Guerrieri used to win last year's Long Beach 100, into the primary car. It, however, was in oval configuration in preparation for a test at Auto Club Speedway with driver Kyle O'Gara next week.

In order to be ready for practice and qualifying, the team - with assistance from the other two Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crews - put the road course package and Hawksworth's setup on the car, change the engine and customize the car to fit Hawksworth, who stayed with the team until the work was completed.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew of No. 77 Jack Hawksworth worked for more than seven hours Friday afternoon and evening to convert a backup car into the race car the Firestone Indy Lights point leader will use this weekend.

Hawksworth's primary car was too damaged to repair at the track, so the team switched to a backup car, which is the same car that Esteban Guerrieri used to win last year's Long Beach 100.

The car, however, was in oval configuration in preparation for a test at Auto Club Speedway with driver Kyle O'Gara.

In order to be ready for practice and qualifying today, the team - with assistance from the other two Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crews - had to put the road course package and Hawksworth's setup on the car, change the engine and customize the car to fit Hawksworth, who stayed with the team until the work was completed.

***

On this day in 2008, Simona de Silvestro won the Champ Car Atlantic race here at Long Beach for Newman/Wachs Racing.

"It was a pretty exciting day," De Silvestro said. "It was my first ever win in Atlantics and also the first time I ever drove the Nuclear Clean Air Energy car. We got the win together and we're still together today. Hopefully, we can have another good weekend here this weekend and get a strong result in qualifying and the race. Winning at Long Beach is special because there is so much history here."

Selected quotes from Michael Andretti's media availability:

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Owner, Andretti Autosport): "It's really going great. We just focused on building on the momentum from last year with the championship. At the end of the year, we were really excited because when we sat down and looked at it, there was really a lot of room for improvement with the team. I think we made a lot of great changes over the winter that are affecting the results we are getting now. One of the goals was to get all four cars more competitive. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) was the guy that seemed to stand out most last year, so we wanted to get a little more consistency with the other guys. Hopefully we can continue to improve." (About Firestone Indy Lights drivers Carlos Munoz and Zach Veach): "I'm really excited about them. Carlos (Munoz), if you watched him throughout last year, just got better and better and you just knew at the end of the year that he was going to be a major contender for the title for this year. He's not letting us down. He's been quickest everywhere. Really should have won the first race, but had a problem with getting a penalty. He dominated the last race (at Barber Motorsports Park). We had his first test in an (IZOD IndyCar Series car) at Texas and he did an awesome job. I think he's going to turn a lot of heads at Indianapolis this year. Zach, I'm really proud of. That kid just keeps getting better and better, as well. He doesn't have a ton of experience, but he keeps working at it and gets better and better. Our goal is to get him in the top three this year and go for the championship next year and get him into (IZOD IndyCar Series) as well along the same program that we're doing with Carlos." (About Marco Andretti's improvement): "He really needs to just keep doing what he's doing. He's really focused. He's really working hard. He's in the truck studying the data between all the cars and all the drivers to see where he's weak and where he can try to improve. That's how all these guys do it. It's no secret. It's a lot of hard work. You're talking about hundredths of a second, not tenths, anymore. He's doing a good job. You can see the progression. He's not there yet, but he's improved a lot. He's halfway there, but as the year goes on, if he continues to keep working on it, he's going to be winning some races."

***

The No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter will carry a "Boston Strong" decal during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The blue and yellow ribbon decal salutes the bombing victims at last Monday's Boston Marathon.



QUALIFYING FOR THE VERIZON P1 AWARD:

Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award consists of three segments. In Segment One of qualifying, each group receives 10 minutes of track time. The fastest six cars from each group advance to Segment Two, while the remaining cars are assigned positions 13-26. Group One drivers will occupy the odd-numbered positions (13, 15, 17...) while Group Two drivers will occupy the even-numbered positions (14, 16, 18...) based on their fastest lap times.

During Segment Two, the 12 advancing cars receive 10 minutes of track time. The fastest six advance to the Firestone Fast Six Shootout while the remaining six cars are ranked in positions 7-12 based on their fastest laps.

During the Firestone Fast Six, the six cars receive 10 minutes of track time, with a guarantee of five minutes of green flag time. At the end of the session, the cars are ranked 1-6 based on their fastest laps.

Any driver who causes a red flag during any segment will lose their two quickest laps.

The time line for qualifying today is at the exit of Turn 11.

At 1:45 p.m., the ambient temperature was 66 degrees with a relative humidity of 66 percent. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 119 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

Track record: Sebastien Bourdais(1:06.886, 105.924 mph), April 2006. Fastest lap this weekend: #77 Simon Pagenaud, 1:08.0960 (Practice 3).

2 p.m. - GREEN. Segment 1, Group 1.

2:10 p.m. - CHECKERED. Advancing to Segment 2 are: #10 Franchitti, #17 Conway, #14 Sato, #11 Kanaan, #5 Viso, #15 Rahal.

***

Rookie Tristan Vautier failed to advance to Segment 2 for the first time in his IZOD IndyCar Series career. He had previously qualified in the Firestone Fast Six in his first two races.

***

2:15 pm. - GREEN. Segment 1, Group 2.

2:23 p.m. - RED FLAG. #9 Dixon spins in Turn 1. #22 Servia hit tire barrier to avoid the sitting car of Dixon. CHECKERED. #9 Dixon continued. #22 Servia was restarted by the Holmatro Safety Team and returned to the pit lane.



IZOD IndyCar officials have penalized #9 Dixon his two fastest laps for causing the red flag. #9 Dixon had been ranked fourth at the time of the red flag.

Advancing to Segment 2 are: #12 Power, #27 Hinchcliffe, #1 Hunter-Reay, #83Kimball, #3 Castroneves and #25 Andretti.

IZOD IndyCar officials have penalized #25 Andretti his two fastest laps for qualifying interference in Turn 6 early in the session. #4 Hildebrand will advance to Segment 2.

2:35 p.m. - GREEN. Segment 2

2:45 p.m. - CHECKERED. Advancing to Firestone Fast Six are: #17 Conway #12 Power, #10 Franchitti, #1 Hunter-Reay, #14 Sato and #3 Castroneves.

2:55 p.m. - GREEN. Firestone Fast Six.

3:02 p.m. - With three minutes remaining. #17 Conway leads with a time of 1:07.9224

3:04 p.m. - #1 Hunter-Reay sets fastest lap of 1:07.2934

3:05 p.m. - CHECKERED. #10 Franchitti takes pole on his last lap with 1:07.2379.

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

This is Dario Franchitti's first pole of 2013 and the 30th pole of his Indy car career. His last pole came at Toronto in 2012. It is the first time he has earned the pole at Long Beach. He started from pole last year after the pole winner suffered an engine change grid penalty.
Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified second, matching his best start here at Long Beach (2010 and 2011).
· Will Power qualified third, the first time he has not qualified on the front row since 2008, when he won from fourth.

· Takuma Sato qualified fourth, his best career qualifying result at Long Beach. His previous best was 6th in 2012

· Mike Conway qualified fifth for his first start Making his first start of the 2013 season.

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "(Winning the pole) meant a lot. We had a very fast race car in Barber, but man, we really made a mess of qualifying. Today it was nice to go out there and really have a great car and get everything out of it. So thank you to everyone on the Target team because it's been a tough start to the season, especially for the No. 10 but really with everybody." (About focus he has this weekend): "You can always do better, can't you, I want to leave nothing on the table and give Chris every bit of feedback that I can. Those guys will take care of their end of things and I'll take care of mine. That requires a lot of focus, and sometimes I'm not the funnest person to be around when that happens, but that's what it takes."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "The guys gave me a great car as always. This team has been doing a great job. The DHL/Sun Drop Chevy has been just awesome. But, this is unfortunate. To lose it by half a tenth is worse than losing it by four-tenths. It was close, but today really doesn't count. We will go get them tomorrow. We are starting from the front row so I think things are looking up for us."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply Co/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "We were so close, it was just a matter of the balance shifting to accomodate to the red tire for qualifying I think we were quick. But maybe it is not enough at this speed to get to the front row. I think it's a team effort to prepare the car. It has been a good strong weekend and I'm very, very pleased."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 17 blu eCigs Honda): "Yeah it was all going good. Very quick in Q2 and then in Q3 I think the tire pressures just went a little bit too high and we couldn't get any more time. It's a shame because I think we had a really good shot at pole there, but big thank you to the Rahal team and blu eCigs for making this possible. I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow.

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "Dixon: "My car was still running. I'm sure there were yellows waving. My car was partially blocking the track, but I was pulling away. It is kind of in the middle. It's a hard call. A tough one. I'm sure if Oriol had seen the yellows and slowed down, maybe he would have gotten around. We were solidly in the top six, and it sucks to go out that way. We will have to fight back from way back tomorrow."

TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "It's a little disappointing that we're struggling but that is part of the process sometimes. As soon as you have the tiniest little issue you end up tenth in your qualifying group like I did today. We'll be working very hard tonight to figure out what we need to fix for tomorrow's race. I'll also be studying my driving line tonight to try and find every ounce of speed possible for tomorrow. Our struggle today just shows you how competitive this series really is."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "We we're going to run out early and run two sets. Tthat was our strategy. I think we were a little behind with pace and the red flag kind of slowed us down. We definitely didn't maximize our strategy, so I think we have to find some pace in the car tomorrow and I think we will definitely do that. We've got some things to try. We've just got to keep a clean race, run well tomorrow, and score some good points. That's the plan."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "The run was a little disappointing, to be honest. We were able to catch a break with some guys crashing out late and losing their laps. So that will move us up on the grid. We went out early on the red Firestones and ran into traffic. We lost some good laps right there. It's hard to time those qualifying sessions on a track like this. It happens to everyone at some point. I thought the car was better than the time indicates. It stinks a little because I think we could have jumped up the chart if we could have put a lap together. At the same time, we caught break with other people's misfortunes. We made some changes for qualifying and they helped. But we didn't get aggressive enough with them and that hurt a bit. We were right with our logic on the setup. We just didn't go after it hard enough. We are getting closer to the front of the field. We'll improve the car for the race now too."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog Flex Pen Honda): "Overall, it was a pretty good day for the No. 83 car. It was nice to bounce-back today after shaking off some of yesterday's difficulties. We had a couple of good sessions and finished in the top-10 both times. We have the car for it and it was good to show results. It was a really good way to pay the guys back after working late last night. It's great to start in the top-10. We have a really consistent car."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "It's frustrating because the car is so good on blacks, but we don't quite know what's going on here. The lap was ok and I thought I was in. We have to try and understand how we're not working the tires properly, which is one of the same issues my teammate Tristan (Vautier) is having. It's frustrating because I thought we had more speed in our car. I'm happy with the balance of the car, we just need to find grip somewhere."

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 77 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): "Well, it's really frustrating because we got caught out with the red flag. You know it is what it is, but I think the car was really good and it's just unfortunate that we got caught in that. Hopefully we're going to have a good race tomorrow. I think the car is strong and we should be able to pass some cars and move forward."

E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela/Andretti Autosport/HVM Chevrolet): "I qualified 10th. The top 10 is not bad after the beginning of the weekend that we had; I think we are recovering pretty decently. Three out of the four the cars in our team are starting in the top 10 which is going to benefit us in a race like Long Beach. Starting in the front part of the grid is definitely a benefit. We are going to try to do our best to climb positions as soon as possible and make a good strategy for the race."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "Up and down day, I guess. A little disappointed to be starting seventh in the Go Daddy car. Happy for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) - congrats to him on the front row. You know, to miss the Firestone Fast Six by such a small margin there, it's a bit heartbreaking. We had a good car, we missed it just that tiny little bit. It's obviously an improvement over Barber where we were stuck down in 20th, but not where we want to be just yet. So, we'll put our heads together and try to come up with a strong race car and hopefully we can have a better day tomorrow."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Hydroxycut KV Racing Technology-SH Racing Chevrolet): "We found the right direction on the setup during this morning session and the times showed up in qualifying. I know we have a good car for the race tomorrow and starting towards the front will definitely help us fighting for a top spot, but I still think it will come down to who manages better their Firestone tires. We'll make some more tweaks to the car for the morning warm-up and get ready for the green flag tomorrow."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther DRR Chevrolet): "I think we had a car to make the top six and I didn't have a chance to set a fast lap. There's not much room for a lot of strategy tomorrow - it's a two stop race no matter how you look at it. We have a good car, we're going to have to pass people and get to the front on track. Things are not coming easy for us, but I am very happy with how the team is working and how the car is working - we will show it."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "We are still looking for ways to get the balance right. We made some progress but not enough. The No. 7 McAfee car was pretty close on the prime (tires) but we had a bit too much understeer and we put the options (red) on and it just got worse. These days you cannot afford to have any hiccups with such a tight field. We did not make the cut for the first qualifying session which was a shame, but it was still better than the previous two races. Hopefully we will have a good race tomorrow and continue to make progress with our qualifying runs."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I just took that one lap and backed off. Tim (Cindric) said 'You're barely going to make it,' and I thought he meant on fuel but he meant the checkered. Literally, barely missed it. I much rather start third than second. The starts in these races you never know what is going to happen. You are better off on the inside. It was good to get to the Fast Six just because of how close everything is at the moment. We got caught out there on the end there. Still very happy with third, good starting position. Getting ready for some good, quality racing tomorrow."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "It was a rough qualifying session for the team and the #6 TrueCar, worst we have had so far this season and not a place we deserved to be. We are going to keep working for the right balance and improving so tomorrow we will have a good clean race."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club Team Penske Chevrolet): "We were happy during the first segment we made some adjustments and improved quite a lot. But we still had some issues and in fact the third one we just decided to make a lot of changes and improved even more. It's a shame I felt that I had a better car than Top 6. I'm not complaining but I just want to be able to move forward with momentum and turbo. Being Top 6 is great and we can keep up the speeds. Tomorrow is going to be an exciting race."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "It was pretty stress-free for us, and I went out and the National Guard Chevy felt like I thought it would right away and we were able to bang some good laps together. That first session was kind of a cluster, so we got a little help, but I was on a lap that was good enough to transfer and had been on a good lap previous to that and got blocked. And once we were in the second round I put in a lap, felt pretty good, and knew there were a couple more tenths out there, but I broke too late going into Turn One and screwed the lap and that screwed up the second lap. That was frustrating, but we've been making some gains here this weekend and the team has been working really well together and it's nice to be able to catch a break in one of these qualification sessions. I'm very confident with the car that we've got and that we'll have a good racecar like we did here last year. We're well set up to be able to run with the big boys at the front, which is what we've been saying all year; if we can start closer to the front we'll stay there because our race pace has been good. Hopefully we get the chance to prove that tomorrow."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda): "The incident was down in turn one and we were in turn nine. I don't understand why we couldn't finish our lap. I'm going to have a talk with Beaux Barfield and try to understand why. I just need an explanation. Nevertheless, it's a shame because we had a really good car, so it's tough to accept. Hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow with strategy and get back up front."

JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "We made some changes this morning and it wasn't quite what we were looking for. Then I think we had a pretty good balance going into qualifying. The first run was pretty good, I just didn't quite put it together really from my point of view on the second set of tires using the reds (Firestone alternate tires). I think the Acorn Stairlifts car is pretty good for the race and I'm looking forward to getting it a bit further up the field tomorrow."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Honda): "We just seemed to squeak through in the first round of qualifying and in the second, now that we had made it through the first, we thought we would be able to gain a little bit but frankly did the same lap time. I seemed to lose the balance a little bit but it's not far off but it's a game of inches nowadays and unfortunately we didn't quite have enough today. The Midas / Big O Tires guys did a good job today though and the car feels pretty competitive. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

***

IZOD IndyCar Series officials applied the following rules in issuing penalties during qualifying.

Marco Andretti Qualifying Interference Penalty:

If a Car interferes with qualifications as determined by the Race Director:

If the violation occurs during Segment One or Segment Two, the Car's best two timed laps during the segment shall be disallowed, the Car shall not advance to the next segment (8.3.7)

Scott Dixon Red Flag Penalty:

If a Car causes a Red Condition in any segment or otherwise interferes with qualifications as determined by the Race Director, the Car's best two timed laps of the segment shall be disallowed (8.3.5)

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS QUALIFYING

This is a 45-minute qualifying session, with drivers ranked by their quickest overall lap any time during the session. No limit on laps. The fastest car will win the $5,000 Sunoco Pole Award.

At 12:45p.m., the ambient temperature was 68 degrees with a relative humidity of 57 percent. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 121 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

Track record: Esteban Guerrieri, 1:13.6957 (April 2011). Fastest lap this weekend: #26 Carlos Munoz, 1:13.5791 (Practice 2).

12:55 p.m. - GREEN.

1 p.m. - RED FLAG. #8 Karam makes contact with the tires in Turn 5. Karam will be penalized his fastest lap for causing a red flag. Car has suspension damage. Karam returns to the pit lane under its own power.

1:03 p.m. - GREEN.

1:10 p.m. - 15 minutes into the session, fastest lap is by #26 Munoz with a lap of 1:14.2293.

1:25 p.m. - 30 minutes into the seesion, fastest lap of the session is by #12 Veach with a lap of 1:13.6768

1:36 p.m. - #26 Munoz sets fastest lap 1:13.3499, a Firestone Indy Lights track record.

1:40 p.m. - #77 Hawksworth sets fastest lap at 1:13.3324. CHECKERED. #26 Munoz takes Sunoco Pole Award with lap of 1:12.9374

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

· This is Carlos Munoz' third consecutive Sunoco Pole Award and his fourth pole in Firestone Indy Lights. He previously won the Sunoco Pole Award at Edmonton in 2012 and St. Petersburg and Barber earlier this season.

· Jack Hawksworth qualified second, the third front-row start in as many races

· Zach Veach qualified third, his best starting position in Firestone Indy Lights. His previous best starting position was fifth.

· The top-six qualifiers are separated by less than .9 of a second.

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS QUOTES:

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Dialy-Ser/Andretti Autosport): "I pushed like it was my last lap in the race car. I didn't do 100 percent, I did 200 percent. I pushed a lot, I was near the wall a lot of times. I have three pole positions this year, the car was awesome. We improved it a lot over the weekend and I think I'll have a really good car for the race. I have to thank my team, my driver coach, everyone I'd like to thank, I'm really happy and the important thing is tomorrow."

GABBY CHAVES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian): "It's tough. Being a rookie on this track is not easy but we are getting there and we are trying to improve as much as we can while we're out there. We are fifth on the grid so we've got some work to do, but overall the car is pretty good, so I'm happy with that, and we will keep working."

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian): "We had a practice this morning which is good because we switched to the spare car last night after the accident in Practice 1 yesterday. And Practice 2 went really well, really happy with this car. And qualifying was the same really, go out there and try to get pole. I did the best I could with the car. I got out there and was in the fight for the first spot and just was not quick enough at the end, so I am disappointed but we live to fight another day." (About using the spare car) "This car is really similar to my car. The good thing about being in a car like this is that they can always turn out cars if needed. We rolled that one off the truck last night and the boys spent all night and today putting it together. It was lucky we had a practice session this morning to see how the car was. No difference between the two cars really, pretty happy with both of them."

SAGE KARAM (No. 8 Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian): "Today's qualifying session was obviously a huge disappointment for me. All we can do at this point is hope to get the car in the best possible position for tomorrow's race and learn as much about this track as possible even though I'll be starting from the back of the pack."

SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

6 a.m.
Garages open

9 - 9:30 a.m.
IZOD IndyCar Series practice

10:15 a.m.
Long Beach 100 (45 laps), NBC Sports Network (Taped, 3 p.m., (ET) April 21)

1:45 p.m.
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (80 laps), NBC Sports Network (Live),

 
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