There were many surprises on Saturday at Watkins Glen International, but seeing Scott Dixon earn Pole position was not one of them. Dixon led all three practice session prior to qualifying, and captured his 25th career pole with a lap of 1:22.5259 seconds around the 3.37-mile road course.
A familiar face will join Dixon on the front row. Will Power won the last IndyCar race here in 2010, and continues his pursuit of another series championship. He is currently 28 points behind his Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, who will be starting 7th tomorrow. Row 2 consists of Sebastien Bourdais and Helio Castroneves, while Row 3 belongs to Ganassi drivers Tony Kanaan and Max Chilton. Juan Montoya will start alongside teammate Pagenaud in Row 4, as Jack Hawksworth and Mikhail Aleshin round out the top ten qualifiers.
Qualification Results for the IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen
Race control was busy dishing out penalities on Saturday. First it was Conor Daly who was hit with an unsafe exit in pit lane, negating his best time. Both James Hinchcliffe and Graham Rahal were penalized with qualifying interference in their first qualifying segment, which prevented them from advancing. Hinchcliffe will start 13th tomorrow, and Rahal will start the race in 20th position.
Aleshin originally advanced to the Firestone Fast Six, but was given a penalty that cost him. That allowed Power to sneak into the Fast Six, which led to a front row start. It was the first time all season long that Pagenaud failed to make the Fast Six.
Two more big names that will be starting in the back half of the field are Josef Newgarden (12th), and Ryan Hunter-Reay (19th). It was another miserable qualifying day for Andretti Autosport, as their four drivers qualified 15th, 16th, 18th, and 19th respectively.
The race distance is 60 laps, which is 202.2 miles around the 3.37-mile 11-turn road course. Power won the last IndyCar race at Watkins Glen in 2010, from Pole position.
Coverage for the IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen begins at 2 PM ET on NBC Sports Network.
Qualification Photos via IndyCar
Juan Montoya: “We missed by a little bit, but the PPG Automotive Refinish Chevy has been good all weekend so far. All of the cars are so close and the margin for error is really small. The conditions for the race should be great tomorrow and we’re looking forward to it.”
Helio Castroneves: “Good car, good team. Obviously everyone in our team shares a lot of information, we’re able to collect and able to put it together. It was great with this situation about the red tires and the black tires. It’s always interesting, and, well, at the least we’re able to do good lap times on the reds, and sounds like the blacks were the way to go. Just got to take a chance, and our group decided to go with the reds, and that’s the best we could do.”
James Hinchcliffe: “It was an incredibly frustrating day at the office. Honestly, the spin is irrelevant. We’re not advancing because of the decisions INDYCAR made. It’s just really disappointing. We put a lot of work into the Arrow Electronics car and made it a lot better from yesterday and we had P4 in that session. The guys did such a good job and we’re going to be starting way further back than we deserve to be for really no reason. The next step is to make a wicked fast race car and pass them all.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “I think that I did all that I could. I thought that I just needed to let the other drivers go so that I could have a clear lap. I knew that Montoya was behind me so I moved to the right. You can see it on the replay. They’re far away and I’m moving to the right. INDYCAR gave me the penalty when I had two identical laps and I was in the top six. They didn’t take only one lap, they took away two fastest laps, even though I moved to the right. I think it’s not very fair. I have no words. I’m just sorry for my fans because I did all I could and the team did a fantastic job to bring the SMP Racing No. 7 car up there but here we go. We’re going to forget about today and fight for tomorrow.”
Max Chilton: “I’m over the moon for Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing with a Firestone Fast 6 start. I qualified a bit better in Iowa, but this is my first appearance in the Firestone Fast 6. I’d say I had to put a lot more effort into this qualifying effort than I did Iowa though with how physical of a circuit this is. It’s literally pushing as hard as you can from green flag to checkered flag. I’m just really proud of the team and happy with our result.”
Scott Dixon: “I was surprised the red tires weren’t faster. I don’t know what the average speed is around here, but it’s really fast. We tested here before but had some rain and were limited to just a few hours. We kind of evolved the car through other tracks we’ve run at and did the best we could with baseline setups from tracks like Road America and Mid-Ohio. It’s good to see a few of my teammates up there in the top six and hope we can take the fight here to everyone tomorrow at The Glen.”
Tony Kanaan: “Great effort by the team today – three cars in the Firestone Fast Six isn’t bad at all. With how competitive the series is this year, getting up front in qualifying definitely isn’t an easy task. We split the strategy a little bit in the last round. We went out on scuffed reds and the other two Ganassi cars went on blacks. It didn’t pay off quite as well as we would’ve liked, but we’re happy with the No. 10 NTT DATA being up front in the top five.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “It was a pretty exciting session for the Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Team. It started off about as bad as it could. It was the bad red surprise, which is becoming annoyingly familiar for us unfortunately. It is always the same process. You set your car up with what you’re given, which is the black (primary) Firestone tires and they’re great. We can always make them work. Then for qualifying you get the “candy surprise” (the red alternate tires). We can’t extract any performance out of them. We just get movement, understeer, it disconnects the car…it’s a mess. So, I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow in the race, to be honest, but for sure the Hydroxycut/Chevy machine is quick on black tires. It’s too bad we didn’t put the car on pole, but my bad. I made a mistake and then ran out of gas because we did an extra lap which was not accounted for. So it is what it is. Nevertheless, when you are close to Scott (Dixon) and Will (Power) at these kind of tracks you know you’ve done a good job. It’s our best qualifying position of the season, so we’ll take it.”
Will Power: “It’s very important to start up front, definitely, considering the championship situation. I felt pretty comfortable around here. Really enjoy the track. Obviously I was really grateful to get in the Firestone Fast Six there and have a shot at it. You know, unfortunately on my final lap, starting it, my engine just died in the last corner there. Definitely cost us some time, but starting on the front row is definitely better than where we were.”
Takuma Sato: “It was a disappointing session for us. After today’s practice we made some changes and the car was pretty good but on edge. We had a little issue with the HANS device which wasn’t in place correctly so I had to pit and that made us a little bit hassled. But then on my hot lap, I just simply lost it in Turn 7. I feel bad for the boys because they made a good car. Hopefully we have a good performance tomorrow.”
Graham Rahal: “I’m very disappointed with the ruling. We obviously have a fast race car but we’re going to have to put our heads down and try to come from behind. There is a lot of work to be done. We will give it all we can to try to come up with good strategy to help us make our way to the front.”
Conor Daly: “The car was good. That’s the nice thing. The Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality car was really fast and it felt good on the Firestone reds. I haven’t seen the pit lane exit violation. I was just following (Ryan) Hunter-Reay out in front of me. I don’t feel like I crossed any lines so to have something like that destroy a qualifying session, again is pretty disappointing. It’s a shame because even though we got one final lap the car was coming to us quite well. At least we have a fast car, it’s just upsetting to be starting near the back.”
RC Enerson: “That’s crazy to make it to the second round in only my second Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying. I didn’t expect it with the way the weekend was going. We were running towards the back a bit, trying to figure things out but these guys hit it with the car right on. We still have a little bit of work to do on what we want to do for race set up but starting 11th, I’m OK with that! We can’t really do much better than that right now. We got into the second group and anything else was a bonus!”
Spencer Pigot: “The day started off really well. I thought third practice was the best session we’ve had. We were really close to the front and the car was feeling really good. This afternoon in qualifying, we put the reds (alternate Firestone tires) on and it was a little trickier. I made a pretty big mistake on my clean lap at the end of the session and never got a chance to put one together. It’s unfortunate, the guys gave me a great car. I know we’re fast, but a mistake prevented us from showing that in qualifying.”
Josef Newgarden: “We have the best in the business here – great cars and great mechanics. I’m really grateful for the work of the Fuzzy’s Vodka guys for getting us back out after this morning. In qualifying, we just struggled. Everyone’s kind of scratching their heads a little bit, it might be a temperature thing but the black tires seem to be more favorable now. It was tough in the first run, we made it by the skin of our teeth which was good. We were hoping we could have made the Firestone Fast Six but it just didn’t happen.”
Simon Pagenaud: “The Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevy has consistently picked up speed and we’re really happy with it. We missed the Firestone Fast Six by just a little, but that’s how competitive the Verizon IndyCar Series is. If everything is not practically perfect, then someone else will be a little faster. I like our prospects for the race tomorrow, though. We’re in good shape.”
Carlos Munoz: “I feel like we’re getting worse and worse. We changed some stuff but we just didn’t get it right. The reds didn’t affect us, maybe for the lap time but it was really hard to go through the group. Tomorrow we have to be a little aggressive on the strategy and hope that it works.”
Marco Andretti: “We didn’t get to really show what we had – even though I think wrung-out we’re not very good. I think honestly the only one I could have beaten was my teammate (Carlos Munoz). I was on a lap to beat him but then it went yellow. So we could have been 16th instead of 18th… but big deal.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We just haven’t been able to find the grip. It’s been very inconsistent. You really have to lean on the car. It’s not really giving us what we want. None of the (Andretti Autosport) cars have been very happy this weekend. I had high hopes coming in here. We had a pretty decent test and then we came off qualifying fourth at Mid-Ohio – top Honda – you’d think we’d come in here, to another road course and be able to transfer that. I really want to get a good result here for DHL over the weekend. We still have a shot, but we’ve been struggling with the car. Again tonight, we’re going to make some big changes to it and we’ll see how it goes. It’s great to be here at Watkins Glen and seeing all fans turn out. This facility is amazing and this is my 200th start so we hope to have a good weekend. Hopefully we get this ship turned around and find that paddle.”
Jack Hawksworth: “It was an interesting qualifying session, there was a lot of drama obviously in the first one. We did the one lap on reds (alternate Firestone tires) and then we were on our second lap when the red (flag) came out. We crossed the line and we thought we were through (to the next round) and then we were out. Earlier in the session, when I was on a flyer on my first set of reds, Graham (Rahal) stopped in the middle of Turn 10 so he drew a penalty as he should. We obviously then transferred. It was pretty decent but again maybe we were just on the wrong place on the track. (Will) Power just kept backing up a little bit, and perhaps we could have gone a couple of tenths quicker and got P7. Overall a pretty decent day. The car was good and we’ve been pretty competitive all weekend so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Charlie Kimball: “I’m really disappointed with how our qualifying ended today. The No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet was really fast, but that red flag on our fast lap really messed up our chances to move on. That lap was shaping up to be a pretty good one and I’m just upset we weren’t able to finish it. I feel really bad for the 83 guys – they gave me such a good car this weekend and we didn’t get a chance to show what it could do. The silver lining is that we’ll have an extra set of tires that some of the faster guys won’t have, but we’ll definitely have our work cut out for us. I’m confident that the car will be fast again tomorrow and we can move through the field quickly.”
Alexander Rossi: “We made big improvements overnight and had a top-five car this morning. The first run on blacks (primary tire) felt about as I expected it, but on the reds (alternate tire) we completely lost the balance. It’s very surprising, very disappointing and a huge mystery at the moment.”