Qualifying Report: Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix
PHOENIX April 1, 2016—Jack Hawksworth will start 17th and Takuma Sato will start 21st in tomorrow evening’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix as the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Phoenix International Raceway for the first time since 2005.
“It was no April Fool’s for us this morning, unfortunately, it was the real deal,” said team owner A.J. Foyt about the incident where Sato did a quarter spin and hit the Turn 2 SAFER barrier hard in practice. Sato is bruised but feels ready to run tonight’s final practice. However, his No. 14 ABC Supply Honda which sustained heavy right side and rear end damage, is looking doubtful despite the crew’s feverish efforts to repair it in time for the evening session.
“I feel okay,” Sato said after emerging from the infield care center. “It was quite a big impact and I have a little bit of a headache, but I’m good. It was a quick spin, I lost it simply with a little bit of oversteer. We were doing a run in qualifying trim; unfortunately we lost the back end and it caused pretty good damage, but hopefully we can come back.”
Hawksworth, whose morning practice was incident free, dealt with some gearing issues that limited his track time. He posted a two-lap average speed of 185.046 mph in his qualifying run.
“It was a tricky qualifying run,” Hawksworth said. “The car was a little bit loose. It’s been a difficult day so far because we had some issues in practice and we didn’t run very much. So we have to get our heads together and understand what happened in qualifying. We have to keep focused and keep digging and put on a good show for the ABC folks tomorrow night.”
James Hinchcliffe also hit the SAFER barrier in nearly the same spot when the action resumed in practice after Sato’s incident. Hinchcliffe emerged unscathed. Neither driver was able to qualify so they will start in the final row. Carlos Munoz spun and hit the Turn 1 SAFER barrier during his qualifying run. Munoz was released from the infield care center.
Helio Castroneves won the pole by setting a new track record of 192.324mph. Second through fifth were Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Charlie Kimball and Ed Carpenter. Teams will have a 30-minute practice session this evening. The race will be televised live tomorrow evening on the NBC Sports Network starting at 8 p.m. ET.