GO TO WHEELS.CA ON MONDAY FOR COMMENT ON SUNDAY’S RACE
Rain Saturday forced the cancellation of qualifying for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono International Raceway and according to rules of the NTT IndyCar Series, the field is set by owner points.
Which means Josef Newgarden, driving for Team Penske, will start on pole and Alexander Rossi will go off beside him, racing for Andretti Autosport.
James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, driving for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Racing, will start 10th of 22.
A two-hours practice session was held later in the day to allow the teams to set up the cars to race and Tony Kanaan (above) set the fastest lap for A.J. Foyt Racing. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing was second and Santino Ferrucci for Dale Coyne Racing was third.
Here is what the drivers making up the starting field had to say about their days.
TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Decent day. Obviously, not being able to qualify hurt us a bit but we can’t control the weather, so I think we have a pretty decent car. Our biggest challenge is that we will be starting in the back and this track is not an easy track to overtake on, especially in traffic. I’m excited, it was a good day, the boys are happy. We needed that today. So we’ll take it one day at a time.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think losing qualifying today due to weather definitely simplifies it. Everybody was just focused on race running. We have some different changes this year with the tires, then also the aero package a little bit, too. That changes it up. I think everyone was just keen to get out there, and to see if the track has evolved much from last year with bumps and things like that. We came here with a pretty different kind of outlook and approach than we had last year in the PNC Bank car just because it was not so good. But it is what it is. You have to go with it. I think for us, it’s probably a little bit better maybe with qualifying out of the books, just because we just focused on trying to get a better race car, whereas last year it was really just qualifying, then nobody really did any long running. I think we have a good car for tomorrow but it’s a long 500 miles.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda): “It’s always good. Ovals have been super new to me and I’ve gotten along with them pretty well since Indy. I think that helped me go into Iowa a little more confident and I think this track, I didn’t know beforehand. We’re ending the year with two tracks I don’t know, so being able to come here and be quick right off the back is really confidence inspiring.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda): “These types of days are always difficult when you lose sessions to weather. Obviously, we’re starting in a good spot on the front row because these cars do not perform well in traffic in superspeedway trim. It’s really the same for everyone but it’s a shame that a track such as Pocono has become one of our more predominant track position races. That’s all the more reason why it’s positive we’re starting on the front row. I think we’ve made some good progress and have made a lot of good changes. I’m reasonably happy, but it’s just too hard to follow cars in front of you closely and overtake them.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): “It was a long day of waiting, but in the end we got some good runs in and it was a great session for the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet. It felt very strong out there. We will fine-tune it tonight, but quite frankly I think we are in really good shape. It should be an exciting race tomorrow with all of the contenders starting up front, but I feel very confident and it is time to be aggressive. We’ll see what tomorrow brings but I certainly feel very good about our race car and our chances for tomorrow.”
COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda): “Productive day at Pocono Raceway today. The car was quick as we ended the day in sixth position. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to qualify due to weather today, but with the race being 500 miles I know we’ll be able to make up quite a bit of spots and be competitive. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun!”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “Clearly, the No. 18 SealMaster car is quick and it’s okay in traffic. I think we had a good chance to qualify well (wet conditions canceled qualifying) and track position is very important here. I think everybody saw it during the two-hour practice session. It’s very much the same scenario as last year. You washout in traffic, so it’s hard to build any momentum and make any moves. We are going to start 11th, which is not ideal, but it’s a 500-mile race. We’ll see if we can improve the car overnight, give it all we have and see how things shake out in the race tomorrow.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Carlin Chevrolet): “It feels really good to be back in the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet with Novo Nordisk. Overall it was a good day despite the weather throwing a wrench in the schedule. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to qualify this afternoon, because I think the No. 23 has a lot of speed in it and we could’ve had a solid qualifying effort. I think we’ve got a good plan and a good baseline setup going into tomorrow’s race. Starting at the back because of entrant points is going to make our job harder, but we relish a challenge and the Tricky Triangle always throws challenges at us whether it’s the weather, track conditions, balance or wind – we’ll just be ready to make the most of it.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “The session went alright. We need to make the DHL car a little bit better in race trim. I think we need to make some changes overnight to get us in the window or tomorrow. Without qualifying today, we’re starting from sixth and it’s a long race so a lot can happen.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 TOTAL Honda): “We only got two hours of practice today. It was a bit of a struggle to get going, but in the end I think our TOTAL car feels pretty strong. I expect us to be competitive. Both Takuma and I start seventh and eighth tomorrow, so Row 4 is a good place to start, a lot of great guys to be around. Our car seems fast so I’m cautiously optimistic. Who knows what 500 miles is going to bring and what the conditions will be versus tomorrow versus today, but hopefully we’ll have a good strong day, gain some points and get closer to our goal of a top-five finish this season.”
Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical):
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “It was a decent day. We got through a lot of stuff. We were in traffic on the last set of tires, but I think we were competitive up until then. We didn’t really get to ring it out because of traffic, but the race car is about a change away. I think a couple of our teammates made the change that we think will help, so we’ll see what comes up tonight. It was a long session today, which is unique and helps after having missed the morning session. It hurts me in qualifying, but I think the series did the right thing.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 SONAX Chevrolet): “It was an interesting practice session. Obviously, I would have liked to have had the SONAX Chevrolet higher up on the time sheets. I actually feel pretty good about the car – the way it’s driving, the way it handles and the pace over a long run. A session like this, it’s really hard to know what everyone was doing. We were on full tanks the whole time – was everyone running full tanks? – we don’t know. We’ll find out tomorrow. I feel better here than I have in past seasons heading into the race. I would have liked to have qualified. I think we do have more pace in the car than what the timesheets say if we were actually trying to qualify. But we’ll start on entrant points and work our way through the field.”
CONOR DALY (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “I think it was a pretty strong session for us. It’s tough only having one practice session for a 500-mile race, but we were actually able to work through a lot. I was really happy with how we were able to get through a lot of changes, which is exactly what we needed to do. We’re still just learning a lot about each other and how we can make the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet faster here at Pocono Raceway. We’re in a decent spot with the car and the setup, but it’s really a shame that we didn’t get to qualify because we showed that we had some raw pace compared to others. Regardless, we’re feeling good about the race tomorrow, so we’ll just roll the dice and see what happens.”
MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “First experience on “The Tricky Triangle” and thought it was a good day. Obviously it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get the first practice or qualifying in because now we’re starting by championship position. We were thinking we could qualify the Arrow car higher than that for sure, so that’s disappointing. Of course for me, coming here for the first time, every lap we can do helps us, so that loss of track time is a bit of a shame. I think the session we got we had a really productive session, got a lot of laps in, tried different things with the setup, so I think we did a good job there. We had some good pit stop sequence as well – the Arrow SPM guys had some really good pit stops, so I think we have everything covered ahead of tomorrow. Tomorrow is a long race, so we’ll see what we can do.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “I think it was a productive session for us. The No. 5 Arrow car had a lot of speed off the truck, and the balance is the best we’ve had here for a couple of years. It’s really unfortunate we didn’t get to qualify because I think our single-car pace was actually pretty solid and certainly better than 10th. It’s a 500-mile race, we’ve got a long way to go. I think the changes INDYCAR made to the rules from last year is going to make it a much better race and a lot more passing on track. We just have to keep our heads clean tomorrow, make the car a little bit better in traffic and no reason we can’t move forward.”
MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Solid session here at Pocono. I think we managed to go through the program very well. Of course, we didn’t have qualifying so we will have to start from the back tomorrow. I think we had a pretty good baseline car, which is good, and from thereon we worked on little issues the car had, and after that we started working on traffic. Overall, I think it was a very nice session. I think it was one of the best sessions I had the whole year. It will be a hard race tomorrow, 500 miles. This race is not easy so we just have to concentrate on the right moves to move up on the grid.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was an okay day. We got through a lot. Obviously, not qualifying helps us on our starting position, but I think we got through enough where we feel comfortable with our race car. It’s nice to have Hitachi and the whole gang here and on our Chevy. And Chevrolet has done a really nice job with everything. Now we just need to try and put it together for tomorrow now.”
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet): “We worked through a lot of changes today which was positive. The general feeling of the Autogeek Chevy in traffic isn’t too bad so we’ll look to make some small improvements for tomorrow. It’s unfortunate the rain caused the schedule to change so much, but we’re starting 12th so it could have been worse. Hopefully, we can find some more speed and work our way up throughout the race.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “We have a lot to think about tonight. With having three cars you get a lot of information to cover. I think we got to a reasonable spot. The Verizon Chevy feels pretty comfortable, so now we just need to make the right decisions on downforce levels.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We did some good running there for the two-hour practice session, without any big interruptions. Turn 2 seems pretty bumpy, which made it pretty difficult in traffic. I think my biggest thing to work on was Turn 3 in traffic. Turn 1 felt kind of good. Overall it’s pretty sensitive on a superspeedway with the setup. We just need to try to find the right window for race conditions with the NTT DATA car and predict what it’s going to be like tomorrow. Overall, a good run for the first time on this track.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “It was a tough session. Usually after the practice, we have time to analyze the data and try to come up with a different setup or whatever might be needed. Today we couldn’t, but of course, everyone is in the same boat. The car was unbalanced today and we needed to do a lot of work to get to a point where we could start working on the setup. Unfortunately, we got to that point at the very last part of the session. If the session started from that point we would have probably been much better. Hopefully, we can look over the data tonight and make the car better for the race.”
ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “We just really focused on race work with the two hours that we had. It’s a bummer that qualifying was canceled because we’re going to have to roll off 18th when I think we have a car good enough for the top 10. It makes for an exciting day tomorrow – it also makes for a long day. It’s a race we have to be very smart in. A lot can happen, as we saw last year. You just have to have a little bit of luck on your side and do the best job that you can, and you’ll come home where you need to be.”