RAHAL QUALIFIED SEVENTH FOR THE FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG; PIGOT WILL START 22ND IN HIS INDYCAR DEBUT
1) Will Power – 1:00.2450 / 107.561 mph (Group 2, Round 3)
7) Graham Rahal – 1:00.5893 / 106.950 mph (Group 1, Round 2)
22) Spencer Pigot – 1:01.3881 / 105.558 mph (Group 2, Round 1)
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I left it all out there, I didn’t have anything else. We’ve been up front all weekend and we have been close but unfortunately we just didn’t have quite enough there. These Steak ‘n Shake boys continue to work hard all weekend and ultimately we race better than we qualify so for us to start seventh, I think we can have a good race. We have been competitive but I think we are all struggling to find a balance. The Firestone tire we brought here is maybe a little bit different than last year’s compound so it’s been difficult to get everything how we want it, setup-wise but we like the challenge and my guys have responded really well. We have to turn our eyes toward the race now and I think we will be pretty strong. Overall we wanted to be the top Honda but we came up three-hundredths of a second of a second short but that’s how this thing goes.”
- FAST FACTS: Will make his ninth Indy car start at this track. His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments. Last year, he started 15th and gained three spots on the first lap and ran as high as fifth place midway through the race but was penalized for “avoidable contact” after he made contact while trying to pass the damaged car of Charlie Kimball. He dropped to the back of the field and ultimately finished 11th… In 2014, the start of qualifying was delayed over three hours after an afternoon storm. Rahal was in Group 1 that ran on a wet track on rain tires. Conditions improved as each of the three rounds took place and teams switched to “slick” tires. Rahal lost control of the car on the slick course and made contact with a tire barrier which brought out a red flag. His two fastest laps were omitted, one of which was sixth fastest and would have allowed him to progress to Round 2 and start in the top-12. On the opening lap, Rahal charged from his 21st place starting spot to 12th and was in 14th when he made his first pit stop. Different pit strategies played out in a race that saw only 10 caution laps of 110 total. In the closing laps of the race, Rahal was 13th but lost a position to Bourdais with two laps to go and finished 14th… He qualified 15th in 2013 for RLL and was in ninth place when the team discovered an electrical issue on Lap 22 under caution that shut the engine off intermittently 6-7 times and dropped him to 21st place. He soldiered on to finish 13th… He qualified 11th in 2012 and finished 12th and qualified 12th in 2011 and finished 17th – both for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR)… He qualified 16th and finished 9th for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010… While with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, he won pole in 2009 and finished seventh and in 2008 he qualified ninth, led 19 laps and won in his series debut at the age of 19 years, 93 days old… Has three IndyCar Series wins (2008 – St. Pete street course; 2015 – Fontana Super Speedway, Mid-Ohio road course) and two poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval) and his highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015.
SPENCER PIGOT, No. 16 RLL / Andersen Interior Contracting Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Definitely the red Firestone tires are a big difference, there is a lot more grip which is awesome. It’s amazing how much grip the car has with those tires. It was good to finally get a chance to try them out. It’s tough out there. I thought I put some good laps together. I think we had a few tenths left which wouldn’t have gotten us through (to the next round) but it might have moved us up a couple of spots that I left on the table. That’s part of learning and part of being a rookie. I definitely learned a lot in those few laps that will help me next time I’m on the reds. I think the goal for tomorrow is to just do our best and hopefully we can make up a few spots on the start and then just see how the race unfolds. It’s a long race and sometimes this race can be pretty unpredictable and pretty crazy. You never know what is going to happen but we will try to keep our nose clean and pick them off as we can.”
- FAST FACTS:Will be his Indy car debut and 11th race here… In his previous 10 races here he has won five races, started from pole three times and from the front row five times and finished on the podium eight times… In 2015, he competed in two races in the Indy Lights Series with Juncos Racing where he started fifth and finished third in both… In 2014, he won both Pro Mazda races from pole with Juncos Racing, led all laps and set the fastest race laps in each… In 2013, he started and finished fourth in the Pro Mazda series Race 1 and started sixth and finished fourth in Race 2 with Team Pelfrey… In 2012, he won the USF2000 Race 1 from pole (qualifying record still stands) and won Race 2 from a second place start and led all laps in both races… In 2011, he won Race 1 of the USF2000 event from pole and finished second in Race 2 after starting second… Pigot is the most successful driver since the formation of the Mazda Road to Indy in 2010 with 24 race wins to his credit in USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. He was the 15th driver to graduate from the Mazda Road to Indy into the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2010. He has won no fewer than four scholarship prizes from Mazda to maintain his career’s momentum to get to the IndyCar Series.
NEXT UP: Morning warm-up will take place tomorrow from 9:00-9:30 a.m. ET and the 110 lap Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Timing and Scoring information and live streaming video is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.