Ryan Hunter-Reay is in perfect position to pick up some valuable championship points with his 3rd Verizon P1 Award of the year and nearly breaking the track record in the process in his #1 DHL Chevrolet Power. A gamble by team owner Michael Andretti to go out on reds in both qualifying sessions paid off, as Hunter-Reay was able to lay down fast laps in the Fast Six Session while other teams were on old tires.
“It took a lot of guts to do that strategy there,” said Hunter-Reay. “We put ourselves at risk there in that middle session to go on used reds against a field this competitive, but the risk paid off. That was definitely the most nerve-wracking part of that session, going out on used reds.”
Where you start is key at Mid-Ohio, the winner of the race has never started outside of the top 6 in the last 6 races. Points leader Helio Castroneves has a hole to dig out of starting from 15th.
Starting 15th is not ideal when you’re going into the race as the points leader, said Castroneves. We will need to work out a new strategy since we still start towards the rear of the field but the PPG guys are working hard to make the right changes to the car. Fortunately, for us today is only Saturday and the race will be tomorrow. We’re going to try something different because what we were planning on doing tomorrow strategy wise won’t work with as far back as we will have to start. We have not given up hope yet, tomorrow will be a long race and I know we’ll be able to make it back up.”
Will Power, looking for redemption after being involved in two last lap crashes at the Doubleheader in Toronto, will start second albeit two tenths off of Hunter-Reay’s time. Marco Andretti will start in 4th, his best start on a road course this season.
From the start of qualifying, it looked as if Ganassi Racing was planning another 1-2-3 start, with Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Charlie Kimball were 1-2-3 at the end of the first quailfying group. All three cars did make into the Fast Six, with Dixon starting 3rd, Kimball starting 5th and Franchitti starting 6th. Kimball’s top 5 run is a huge turnaround for the team after Kimball crashed earlier today in final practice.
It was a great effort by all the Chip Ganassi Racing guys,” said Kimball. “There were as many red shirts from the Target side in the garage as there were orange shirts. They gave me the easy job of driving the racecar. They kept kicking me out of the garage, telling me to get out of the way. All I had to do while they changed the backup was get the car ready for me and all I had to do was go out and drive it.
In his IZOD IndyCar Series debut driving for Barracuda Racing, Luca Filippi posted a lap that would have advanced him into the second session, but was involved in a single car incident early in the session and has his fastest two times stripped from the record and will start 24th.
James Davison, also making his series debut, made contact with Ed Carpenter early in the first session and otherwise had an uneventful qualifying session and will start in 17th.
Pos Driver Team/Engine Time Gap 1. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti/Chevy 1m05.3519s 2. Will Power Penske/Chevy 1m05.5359s +0.1840s 3. Scott Dixon Ganassi/Honda 1m05.7051s +0.3532s 4. Marco Andretti Andretti/Chevy 1m05.8566s +0.5047s 5. Charlie Kimball Ganassi/Honda 1m06.4415s +1.0896s 6. Dario Franchitti Ganassi/Honda 1m06.5854s +1.2335s 7. Justin Wilson Coyne/Honda 1m05.9405s Round 2 8. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt/Honda 1m05.9412s Round 2 9. Simona de Silvestro KV/Chevy 1m05.9621s Round 2 10. James Jakes Rahal/Honda 1m06.1778s Round 2 11. Tristan Vautier Schmidt/Honda 1m06.3379s Round 2 12. EJ Viso Andretti/Chevy 1m06.4071s Round 2 13. James Hinchcliffe Andretti/Chevy 1m06.2198s Group 1 14. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon/Chevy 1m06.1856s Group 2 15. Helio Castroneves Penske/Chevy 1m06.2280s Group 1 16. Takuma Sato Foyt/Honda 1m06.1989s Group 2 17. James Davison Coyne/Honda 1m06.2839s Group 1 18. Oriol Servia Panther/Chevy 1m06.2109s Group 2 19. Josef Newgarden Fisher/Honda 1m06.5334s Group 1 20. Tony Kanaan KV/Chevy 1m06.2537s Group 2 21. Sebastian Saavedra Dragon/Chevy 1m07.0895s Group 1 22. Graham Rahal Rahal/Honda 1m06.4002s Group 2 23. Ed Carpenter Carpenter/Chevy 1m07.4107s Group 1 24. Luca Filippi Herta/Honda 1m06.8757s Group 2