The bright blur of Simon Pagenaud in Turn 2
NTT IndyCar Series

Qualifying Coverage from the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Story Credit: INDYCAR PR
Photo Credit: Jared DePouw

{boxplus href=”images/News/2016IndyGP/PagenaudT2.jpg” title=”Photo Credit Jared DePouw”}The bright blur of Simon Pagenaud in Turn 2{/boxplus}

Simon Pagenaud’s bright new car paint scheme didn’t slow his torrid run to start the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Driving the fluorescent yellow No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet for the first time this season, Pagenaud won the Verizon P1 Award for pole position in qualifying for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Winner of the most recent two races this season, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader notched his second straight pole of 2016 and fourth of his career with a lap of 1 minute, 8.6868 seconds (127.832 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six – the last of three rounds of knockout qualifying. He will lead the 25-car field to the green flag in Saturday‘s 82-lap race on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in racing,” said Pagenaud, who hasn’t finished lower than second in the first four races this season. The 31-year-old Frenchman is in his second year with Team Penske and seventh overall racing Indy cars.

“I’m driving the best I’ve driven, ever,” Pagenaud added. “Little by little, you get confidence with success. Team Penske, they give me the best car. If I drive it well, you should expect to be up there. To be up there so often is certainly the best feeling in the world.”

Charlie Kimball, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet, will start next to Pagenaud on Row 1 following a career-best qualifying effort. Kimball’s lap in the Firestone Fast Six was 1:08.9816 (127.286 mph).

“We made the race car better and better and we didn’t focus too much on qualifying, so I think we have a good pace for tomorrow,” Kimball said. “Having finished fifth here the last two years, I’m looking forward to the race. It’s neat to be on the front row.

“Congrats to Simon for getting the pole. I think we would have had to have the perfect lap to be able to match his lap time.”

Pagenaud won races last month on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., and the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Birmingham, Ala., leading up to this epic month of May at Indianapolis that includes the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 29. He is the only driver to qualify for the Firestone Fast Six in all four road/street-course events this season.

“It’s not that simple, it’s a lot of work in the background,” said Pagenaud, who won the first Angie’s List Grand Prix in 2014 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.” I just want to take my hat off to my engineer, Ben Bretzman, for giving me a monster car every time. It’s a lot of fun for me right now, the whole team is functioning so well. The decision process from (strategist) Kyle Moyer to do one lap each segment was all him. It’s really a team sport.”

Will Power, Pagenaud’s teammate at Team Penske, set the track record in Segment 1 of qualifying with a lap of 1:08.6746. It broke Power’s own record set last year by more than eight-tenths of a second, but the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske failed to advance from Segment 2 to the Firestone Fast Six and will start the race in the 12th spot.

{boxplus href=”images/News/2016IndyGP/PowerT2.jpg” title=”Photo Credit Jared DePouw”}Will Power leading his Q1 group on his way to breaking his own track record{/boxplus}

“We were great in practice and I messed up in qualifying (brushing the wall), again” said Power, who won the 2015 race from the pole. “It seems like it’s every week now. It’s getting pretty frustrating. It’s difficult to race from the back in these races, but that’s what we’ll do tomorrow in our Verizon Chevy.”

Late Friday night it was announced that the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan with Theodore Racing car of Graham Rahal and the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing car of Josef Newgarden were cited for violation of Rule 14.3.1.1 of the Verizon IndyCar Series Rule Book for minimum car weight.

{boxplus href=”images/News/2016IndyGP/RahalT2.jpg” title=”Photo Credit Jared DePouw”}Graham Rahal would have started in P3 had his car not failed post-qualifying tech inspection{/boxplus}

According to the rule, a car must weigh a minimum of 1,610 pounds on road/street courses and short ovals, inclusive of all lubricants, coolants and camera or dummy camera housings.

Both cars had their qualifying times from today voided and will start from the rear of the field in Saturday‘s race based on entrant points entering the event. The No. 15 car will start 24th and the No. 21 car will start 25th.

{boxplus href=”images/News/2016IndyGP/NewgardenT2.jpg” title=”Photo Credit Jared DePouw”}Like Rahal, Josef Newgarden failed post-qualifying tech inspection and will start at the back of the field{/boxplus}

Scott Dixon, who trails Pagenaud by 48 points for the championship lead, will start seventh in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Jared DePouw
Jared is the founder of RealOpenWheel.com but works as a small business accountant. He also officiates high school football and lacrosse in his free time.

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