Honda Racing Report
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Circuit: Bayfront Park (1.8-mile temporary circuit) St. Petersburg, FL
2015 Winner: Juan Pablo Montoya (Team Penske) 86.735 mph average
Weather: Sunny, warm, 81 degrees F
Hunter-Reay, Honda To Start Sixth at St. Petersburg
- Rahal qualifies seventh, seeks second St. Petersburg victory
- Hinchcliffe returns with top-10 qualifying run
- J. Foyt Racing teammates Hawksworth, Sato advance to second round
Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay led the Honda field Saturday in qualifying for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, advancing to the “Fast Six” final qualifying round to post the sixth-fastest time in preparation for the opening round of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
For the second consecutive year, Team Penske drivers claimed the top four starting positions. However, Graham Rahal will start seventh at the event where he scored his first career Indy car victory in 2008. In his return to Indy car racing after suffering serious injuries last May at Indianapolis, James Hinchcliffe qualified ninth. Jack Hawksworth rounded out the top 10 for Honda, with his A.J. Foyt Racing teammate Takuma Sato qualifying 11th.
Sunday’s 110-lap season-opening round of the Verizon IndyCar Series starts at 12:30 p.m. EDT, with live network television coverage on ABC.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (#28 Andretti Autosport Honda): “We have to go back and talk about the [setup for the] race, today we were just focused on qualifying. It’s a new [aero] kit, it’s a work in progress. I have to talk myself into being happy about qualifying the DHL Honda sixth today, and that’s hard to do, but it’s better than we qualified here last year. I think this new aero kit and the Honda engine have put us closer [to the front], but we still need to do make improvements.”