HELIO CASTRONEVES EARNS POLE FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE RACE
· Castroneves leads Chevrolet sweep of Firestone Fast Six in qualifications on street circuit
· Team Chevy drivers have won the first three Verizon P1 Awards of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Season
· Josef Newgarden qualified ninth to give Chevrolet seven of the top-nine in the final qualifying order
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 16, 2016) — Helio Castroneves recorded the quickest lap in the Firestone Fast Six session to earn the pole for the second consecutive year in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and lead a Chevrolet sweep of the top six positions in qualifying for the second Verizon IndyCar Series race in a row.
Castroneves, who won in 2001 on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit in the heart of Long Beach, California, drove the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet, to a lap of 1 minute, 07.1246 seconds to lead four Team Penske teammates and two Chip Ganassi Racing Teams drivers in the final knockout qualifying session.
“We’ve been good all weekend long and working together all weekend long. The team did a phenomenal job,” said Castroneves, who set the Long Beach course record of 1:06.6294 in earning the pole in 2015. “Team Penske probably had the upper hand. At the end of the day the No. 3 wound up in the No. 1 spot. It’s the right spot to start, so let’s keep it.”
Team Penske drivers have earned the pole for all three Verizon IndyCar Series races this season. Will Power, who will start sixth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, set the circuit lap record for the opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, in mid-March. Castroneves won the pole for the race on the Phoenix International Raceway oval two weeks ago.
Castroneves, who has 47 career poles, moved closer to Bobby Unser (49) for third on the all-time Indy car list.
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, who won at Long Beach in 2015 after starting third in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, will join Castroneves on the front row for the 80-lap race Sunday. Dixon is coming off a victory at Phoenix.
“We’re stoked considering how we started this weekend,” said Dixon, whose lap of 1:06.6459 in the second round of qualifying came closest to eclipsing the track lap record for the third successive race. “We tried a totally different set-up from last year. The cars have changed a bit, especially aerodynamically. We thought it might need some different things, but that wasn’t the case. Some good old front wing actually helped us carry the speed through the corners. Front row is a great start and hopefully we can replicate what happened last year.”
Series championship points leader Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, and Tony Kanaan, No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, will occupy Row 2. Juan Pablo Montoya, who won at St. Petersburg in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, will share Row 3 with teammate Power.
Team Penske drivers, paced by Power, swept the top four spots in the morning practice session prior to qualifications.
NBCSN will telecast the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach at 1 p.m. (PT) Sunday. The race also will be broadcast on the INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212/XM 209, indycar.com, indycarradio.com, and the INDYCAR mobile app.