Qualifying Report: Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS April 11, 2015—A combination of rain, lightning strikes and impending darkness forced officials to cancel the remainder of qualifying for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana today. That turned out to be good news for the ABC Supply team.

The field will be set by the owners’ points which means Jack Hawksworth will start eighth and Takuma Sato will start 13th which is where they finished in the season opener in St. Petersburg two weeks ago. The race’s winner, Juan Pablo Montoya, will start on the pole. Starting second through fifth are: Will Power, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.

Both Sato and Hawksworth were able to sort out rather quickly that changes needed to be made before they raced tomorrow. Despite the brief qualifying session, there was enough time to assess the cars.

“Disappointing day,” said Takuma Sato. “We’re not performing well under the dry track conditions and it’s the same in the wet at this track, so we need to find out what’s wrong and make changes.”

Jack Hawksworth was a little more comfortable in his car although he only got one hot lap registered before the red flew.

“I thought we made the car better in the morning practice, because we were quite a bit closer to the top speed in the dry track conditions compared to yesterday,” Hawksworth said. “We closed that gap by almost 120%. We still have to find some pace but we’re in the ballpark and we have one more warm-up to fine-tune that gap to the front. We’ll be starting on points, so we start eighth and hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow.”

The pressure will be on the Verizon IndyCar Series officials to get the race completed despite the prediction for rain all day at NOLA Motorsports Park. The teams need to be in Long Beach, Calif. by Thursday for that city’s historic race next weekend.

Equipped with treaded rain tires, the cars can run in the rain as long as there isn’t too much rain which can result in standing water pooling in the track’s low spots. Standing water can spell trouble for the low slung Indy cars which can easily aquaplane and spin. Having never raced in the rain with the new aero kits, the drivers will be dealing with quite a few unknowns tomorrow if the weatherman’s prediction is correct.

The race will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.