FONTANA, Calif. (June 26, 2015) – Simon Pagenaud earned his second career Indy car pole and first on an oval in leading a Team Penske sweep of the front row for the MAVTV 500 with a two-lap average speed of 218.952 mph at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway.
Pagenaud, driving the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet, topped teammate Helio Castroneves’ 2014 pole-winning average speed of 218.540 mph and will start on the front row for the third consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series race. Castroneves qualified second with a two-lap average speed of 218.734 mph in the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet.
It is the fifth consecutive race that Team Penske entries have occupied the front row.
“Thanks to my crew for the preparations and it’s exciting to get a superspeedway pole,” said Pagenaud, who is in his first season with Team Penske. “Qualifying is one thing. It’s a reward for performance. We have a 500-mile race and hopefully I can reward the team for its hard work. It’s a brand new team that is gelling really well.
“This (pole) is nice, but frankly you can win from the back in a 500-mile race like (Juan Pablo) Montoya did (in the Indianapolis 500). Being able to run in different lanes and being smart in traffic is going to be key.”
Marco Andretti, whose two-lap average speed of 217.797 mph in the No. 27 Snapple Andretti Autosport Honda was third best of the 22 qualifiers, posted his highest qualifying result since securing the pole for the July 2013 race at Pocono Raceway.
“We maximized everything in qualifying, and I’m really happy with the race car for the long race. That’s the important thing,” said Andretti, who won the pole for the 2012 race at Auto Club Speedway.
CFH Racing co-owner/driver Ed Carpenter, who has finished first, second and third in the past three races at Auto Club Speedway, qualified on the outside of Row 2 (217.666 mph) in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet.
Pagenaud won his first Verizon P1 Award on June 28, 2014, at Houston. He has qualified in the top five in 10 of the 11 Verizon IndyCar Series races this season. Pagenaud also qualified on the front row for the 99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Montoya, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship points leader who is seeking to complete a career Triple Crown of 500-mile race victories at Pocono Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway, qualified fifth at 217.250 mph in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet.
Montoya will share Row 3 with defending race winner Tony Kanaan, who posted a two-lap average of 217.184 mph. Scott Dixon, runner-up to teammate Kanaan in the MAVTV 500 last August, matched his teammate’s qualification speed average 217.184 mph and will start seventh.
Dixon’s Car Livery Inspiring People to Get Moving
Dixon is carrying a special orange and black livery on his No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet this weekend to promote Unilever’s Degree brand and the Degree Get Moving Challenge. The #GetMoving program challenges consumers for six weeks starting July 1 with fitness activities ranging from cardio kickboxing to full-sprint workouts.
Participants can earn prizes including VISA gift cards, Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazine subscriptions, workout attire and a destination trip for a one-on-one workout session with celebrity trainer and transformation pro Chris Powell. For more information, visit www.degreegetmovingchallenge.com.
Two INDYCAR Events Voted among Top 10 in Motorsports
The Indianapolis 500 and Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach are among the world’s 10 best motorsports races, according to an online poll conducted by USA TODAY and 10Best.com. Results of the 10Best Readers’ Choice Award for Best Motorsports Race were released today, with the Indy 500 finishing second and the Long Beach street race ninth among 20 nominees.
MAVTV 500 QUALIFYING QUOTES:
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet, Verizon P1 Award winner): “It’s good. We’ve been working really hard on the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet Team – it’s a brand new team. It’s gelling really well and I’m super happy to get a superspeedway pole. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s a totally different day tomorrow. This (pole) is nice, but frankly, you can win from the back in a 500-mile race. Lots of traffic tomorrow and it’s going to be important to keep your tires underneath you. Being able to run in different lanes and being smart in traffic is going to be key. And obviously there is going to be a lot of pit stops, too – so there’s a lot for tomorrow, but I’m just going to take this tonight and enjoy it.”
WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “We didn’t even do a qualifying sim in practice. We had a lot of push and I had to lift on the first lap so it wasn’t ideal. It is a long race and we just have to have a consistent race car and make our way up front. If you’re near the front in the final 20 laps, you have a chance (to win).”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinishing Chevrolet): “It was an OK run for the PPG Chevrolet. I figured it would end up somewhere around fourth to sixth and we ended up fifth. The car drives really well. We can make our way to the front easily from where we are starting. It’s a long race. Anything can, and probably will, happen. If we are solid on pit road all day, then we should be right there at the end.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet): “I’m happy – the performance was very consistent. Wow, to be able to do two laps exactly the same shows that the car is good, and also very consistent. The challenge is the temperature. You know, it’s very slippery when it gets very hot. It can be very challenging. Even when you have several lanes to go, the car sometimes just wants to go one way and that’s the biggest (challenge) – trying to find new lines without having any huge moments.”
STEFANO COLETTI (No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “I wasn’t able to fully trim my car in the practice sessions leading up to qualifying, so it was a little difficult for me to know how the car was going to handle. Unfortunately, it was very loose and on my second lap I almost lost it in all four turns, but luckily held on and brought it back to the pits. I now need to sit down with my engineers and look at the data and we will decide on the changes we will make for the race tomorrow.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda): “It’s been a really good day and we had pretty high expectations for qualifying. We just didn’t go as fast as we were hoping, but the car felt really good. We just had too much downforce on it. That would be a really easy fix if we were to qualify again, but I’m pretty excited about the speed we’ve had in practice and in race trim. I guess we’ve been making a habit of coming from the back and toward the front, so maybe we’ll just have to do that again.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It’s just really tough on the crew guys (to have to change the engine). We had a really good car and obviously had the engine failure in practice. The guys managed to put an engine in the car in about an hour, but it just wasn’t quite quick enough to get us in line for tech. It’s really disappointing but it’s going to be a long race tomorrow and we’ve got a good car. I’m looking forward to it and I think we can get a good result in the No. 7 MAVTV MediaTech Oculus Honda.”
SAGE KARAM (No. 8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chevrolet): “I never went low in Turns 3 and 4 and I tried that during qualifying. That took a lot of guts for me to just say ‘I’m going to do this,’ but I made a little mistake on my last lap and I chose the wrong gear and hit the rev limiter. I think we would have been a little higher up the scoring pylon, but we’ll learn from it and move on.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Degree Chevrolet): “We missed it for some reason, so I’ll have to go back and talk it over with the team as to why we were hitting the rev limiter. The winds definitely picked up and the conditions were ideal. We tried to run the bottom but there was still some quick dry down on the track and it got pretty slick. Overall missing it in qualifying isn’t that big of a deal and it’s a 500-mile race and I know we have a good Degree Chevrolet for the race.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet): “I think we have a really good car in the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet, but with some of the changes we made between the second practice and qualifying we just missed a little. The good thing about qualifying on a track like this one is that your starting position isn’t as important as it might be on a road course. There are so many lanes to make passes and lines to take that if you have a fast race car, it won’t take you long to make it back to the front.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Mistic E-Cigs – KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “We were just a little too aggressive with the balance of the car. It was oversteering (loose). I also made a mistake. I was freaking out a little bit on the second lap between Turn 1 and 2 and forgot to downshift into fifth gear, so we were a bit low on the rpm and that killed the second lap. It was a good effort by the Mistic guys and the Chevy power was strong again. We had a bit of a disjointed second practice and we didn’t get through all the items we wanted to do. We gave it our best shot in qualifying. Now we just keep working and see what we can come up with for the race tomorrow.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Very pleased – it was a good performance from the team. In practice we weren’t able to optimize the car but they put everything together in qualifying and I was able to run on the bottom of the lane, which is difficult to hold the line because it’s bumpier. The first lap was good but on the second one it naturally started sliding, so I lost a little bit of speed. But to be in the top 10 is a good place to start.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “I’m happy with the speed we ran, which was way, way better than I expected based on the speeds I did earlier today. I knew qualifying was going to be our weakness but I think the race car is pretty good. I don’t want to start too far back obviously, but I told my guys I thought we would qualify between 15th and 18th. Everyone adds so much downforce back on the cars for the race. Over a 30-, 32-lap stint we did in practice, I was able to stay pretty close to flat the whole time and able to pass (Will) Power and a bunch of good guys, so I feel like we will be OK in the race.”
PIPPA MANN (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “It is a bit difficult for me coming here to Fontana because my other start (at Auto Club Speedway) is officially a start, but I didn’t get to run much. It really feels like this is the first time I’ve been here because I didn’t get that far in the race. I’m learning and making improvements to the car. It is going to be a long 500 miles in this heat but I’m looking forward to it. Since we don’t have the outright speed right now, we are really hoping we can make the speed last longer than everyone else during a stint. Hopefully that strategy will work a bit better than it did in Texas and we can have a good race tomorrow.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “The wind made it a little bit tricky but, honestly, the run was pretty uneventful. I think we might have been a bit too safe. The car felt quite stuck and it wasn’t the speed we wanted. It is a long race and there is a lot you can do during the race, so we will work on the race car. I think we have a few things to work on for tomorrow, but the race setup seemed pretty good.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “We had a good qualifying run. That was a lot better than we’ve been able to show on the first two ovals. The win and second place in Toronto gave us good momentum and the week off was really good, too. We had been struggling on the ovals and the week off really gave us a chance to get immersed in what our problems were and come up with some good ideas to come here and get back on track. I just have to thank all the guys on the team – mechanics, engineers, everybody, for putting in the hard work to get the cars driving nice again.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV/Cinsay Honda): “Qualifying was a bit disappointing. Anyways, qualifying is not where it counts. Tomorrow – the race – is what counts. We’ll see where we are tomorrow; it’s a long race, 500 miles, and it’s going to be really hot. We’re starting 11th, so hopefully we’ll have a good car to push to the front.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “We’ll have a pretty clean view for the start here. I’m pretty excited about the race car; I’m thrilled with where we ended up in quals – but I think my race car is really solid, and thankfully we won’t have to come from the back. Just really proud of everybody, we’re really maximizing everything.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It was a pretty good run in the No. 28 DHL car; we had to be a little conservative with it. We didn’t go working the qualifying stuff this morning, didn’t get a good read off it. … It’s a 500-mile race, we just went at it kind of conservatively and we were the first amongst our teammates (Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz) again, so we gave them some feedback for their runs.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “We had a little too much downforce in the car, we should have trimmed out a little more. It was one of those deals where we didn’t know. We thought the pace might be slower than it was but it wasn’t, the track was very quick and had a lot of grip so we got caught out by that a little bit. But the car was good in practice today so we think we can have a good race tomorrow.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet): “I was surprised, when I saw Ed (Carpenter’s) lap I got excited and we didn’t have the same speed. The car was good and will be good for tomorrow, we just didn’t have the speed tonight. Ed has always been good in the race here and hopefully that helps us tomorrow. We definitely did a lot of homework after Texas. The break was good, not just for me but for the entire team. We had more time to prep our cars more than most races and that has paid off here so far.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch Chevrolet): “Obviously the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams cars are fast here with how we’ve all practiced and how the top three qualified in the top 10. I have a lot of confidence in the No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch Chevrolet in race trim. We were really racy during the first practice, especially when we were running on older tires and running sets longer than most people would. I’m definitely disappointed that we weren’t able to stay in the top 10 for qualifying, but I think we have a really good chance to move quickly to the front and finish strong tomorrow in the race.”