Chevy teams Birmingham qualifying notes, quotes

Team Chevy Racing press release

Chevy teams Birmingham qualifying notes, quotes

Helio Castroneves Continues Strong Start to IZOD IndyCar Series Season for Chevrolet with Pole at Barber Motorsports Park

Bowtie Drivers Capture Four of Fast-Six Starting Positions for Sunday’s Race

Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Mike Geng

LEEDS, Ala (March 31, 2012) – Helio Castroneves continued his strong start in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series by winning the pole for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Behind the wheel of his No. 3 AAA Team Penske Chevrolet, the winner of last week’s season-opening race gave Chevrolet its second consecutive pole in the Bowtie brand’s return to IndyCar competition.

Castroneves won at the 2.38-mile road course in 2010, the series’ debut on the circuit.

James Hinchcliffe, No. 27 Team Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, will start alongside Castroneves for tomorrow’s 90-lap race.

JR Hildebrand put the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet in the fifth starting position. Tony Kanaan, No. 11. Geico | Mouser Electronics – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, qualified sixth to give Chevrolet four of the Fast-Six qualifiers.

Chevrolet V-6 powered drivers captured six of the top-nine starting positions with E.J. Viso, No. 5 Citgo | Pdvsa – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, qualifying in seventh place and Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, securing the ninth starting spot in the 26-car field.

HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 AAA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, POLE WINNER: TALK ABOUT YOUR POLE WINNING EFFORT OF THERE: “Yeah, certainly for us the first session, I caught a little bit of the drivers talking about we didn't have the practice. The first group was a little bit tough. Firestone red tires were very sticky, mostly in the rear in my setup. I was struggling a little bit.

“But we were able to make it. We were able to make some adjustments. Then we went to qualifying number two and the car was much better. Then we went to qualifying number three. We felt that we were really strong going to Q-3. We just were able to keep putting very consistent laps. It looks like we're in good shape, good balance for the race.”

HOW MUCH OF A RISK IS IT TO WAIT DURING THAT SECOND QUALIFYING SESSION TILL THERE'S FIVE OR SIX MINUTES LEFT GOING OUT? HOW MUCH DOES THAT FACTOR IN KNOWING IF A YELLOW COMES OUT, YOU MIGHT NOT EVEN GET A TIME OUT AT ALL? “It's a risk. You saw qualifying two, a number of guys got caught on that situation. At the same time you want to get the best out of the track with the tire, with the fresh tires.

“In all those conditions, you always push to the limit. Sometimes helps, sometimes doesn't help. But it's very unusual for something like that happen. But you're going to see now max qualifying, people waiting for the last minute to go.

“In my group we just did our normal deal, always have a little bit of gap, be conservative in case something goes wrong like today. For us, today was just perfect.”

COULD YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE STRONG START FOR YOU THIS SEASON, AND ALSO FOR CHEVROLET: “Certainly the AAA machine is looking good. Our last race was very strong. Chevy is doing a great job to put everything together. It's always important to start the season strong.

“Again, it was just one race. Right now we put ourselves in that position. We got to continue doing what we doing. High percent of this race is where you start. But, again, you still have to complete a lot of laps tomorrow. There's a lot going on. There are two or three pit stops that might happen.

“We have to continue doing what we're doing without make any risk. Or, if you're going to make a risk, it has to be the right one.”

YOU'RE STARTING ON THE POLE. YOUR TEAMMATES DIDN'T HAVE THE QUALIFYING ROUNDS THEY EXPECTED. HOW CAN YOU HELP THEM WITH THEIR RACE? “Last weekend as a perfect example, three guys used three different strategies. In the end my strategy ended up being the right one.

“Now tomorrow we have to do the same way. Who is going to be with the better strategy? Sometimes starting in the back you could save a little bit more fuel. That could be a strategy the team can apply to.

“For me, that's the only way I see it at this point. But all three cars are very similar. Unfortunately it was just not being in the right place in the right time for them. But I guarantee tomorrow they're going to be strong because I know what they have under those cars, it's very strong.”

YESTERDAY WILL (POWER) SAID HE THOUGHT IF YOU'RE NOT STARTING IN THE FIRST TWO ROWS YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING THIS RACE ARE PRETTY DISMAL. WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT? DO YOU THINK THAT'S BEEN MIXED UP BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENED IN THE QUALIFYING SESSION HERE? “I hope he's right. I did win starting from second row in 2010. It gives us a lot of confidence to be in the position at this point. We still got to do the whole entire race and make it happen. Right now we are going to enjoy this moment.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 TEAM GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 2ND: ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: “Not a bad Saturday morning at the track. For us, it was obviously a decent session. We rolled into qualifying after the weird schedule and weird weather that we have had. I think we had only 14 or 15 dry laps under our belts and those didn’t even go that well. We didn’t quite know what to expect from the Firestone Reds for the first time. Just credit to the Andretti Autosport guys because the GoDaddy car was quick from the get-go. We got through Q-1; I managed to do a decent time in Q-2. It was early in my run when that yellow came out, so we knew we were going to have pretty good tires for the fast six. With a couple of the big hitters missing out because of that yellow, we knew it was going to be a good opportunity to score well. As a result, we end up on the front row. Huge credit to the guys. Congrats to Helio (Castroneves, pole winner). Too bad for Ryan (Hunter-Reay who made contact with the wall during qualifying) as well. He should have been there. He had a good enough time to be in the Fast Six but overall a good day for the team.

BEST CAREER START. YOU WERE A LITTLE BIT FRUSTRATED YOU DIDN'T GET ON THE POLE. TALK ABOUT YOUR LAST SESSION: “Yeah, well, it's one of those bittersweet things. Obviously, the best start of my career. I’m thrilled with that. When you look at the gap, half a 10th, you go over every single corner in your head thinking what could I have done differently. With a 3/10ths gap, no problem. When the gap is that small... It's not that often that you have a Fast Six missing two Penskes and missing Hunter-Reay. There's a good opportunity for us to get a good start.

“I actually set my time in Q-2 sort of late. I had only done one flying lap. Doing that on the second run for the Fast Six, we knew the tire was going to be pretty good, but not quite quick enough to catch the man in blue over there. Congrats to him and congrats to Chevy for rockin' up the front row as well.”

JR HILDEBRAND, NO 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 5TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING: "Just really happy with everything for the Panther Racing side. We've put a high priority this year on improving our road and street course program. With some of the yellows and the red flag coming out when it did during that second qualifying group, maybe we got a little bit lucky with all of that, and timing it right. We're happy to have the pace that we did and we look forward to turning that into something good for us and good for the points tomorrow."

TONY KANAAN – NO. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 6TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING: “Actually, I'm extremely happy to be back on the Fast Six. Last year we started last here, so I guess I figure something out. The conditions for qualifying were unknown for everybody. You never know when you're going to go out, you're going to wait eight minutes or you're going to wait five minutes. We did not test this morning, which was not fun. Half an hour yesterday only. Now we get the red tires only for qualifying. It was always up in the air. That's why you can see so many guys that are supposed to be in the Fast Six never made it into the top 10.

“It definitely made it more interesting. I think the race is going to be quite fun tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will hold up and we can have a warm-up. I felt like today I was racing in Formula Fords back in the day, because we had to jeopardize our session so everybody else could run. I still don't understand that, but we'll talk about that.”

TALK ABOUT THE STRATEGY: The strategy is when you have a qualifying tire, especially with the reds, you are going to get max of four laps on a good, good tire. You don't need more than that. You don't want to damage those tires for the race either.

The way they count is four laps, how many minutes it is, we go out six minutes to the end, we hope for more yellows, which caught some people this time. You got to put it together in four laps.

E.J. VISO – NO. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 7TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: “Qualifying seventh is not bad. It is a pretty good position to start this race, however we had the potential to be in the top-four. Unfortunately, in the second round of qualifying a red flag came out toward the end of the session when I was on my fast lap which would have put me into the Firestone Fast Six. All the time we spent last night with the engineers paid off today. The improvements we made to the car were very good, I am looking forward to scoring some more championship points.”

WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 9TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING: “It’s a pretty frustrating qualifying result. Man, we had a great Verizon car today. We had a good first session and we were ready to fight for the pole. I know IndyCar threw the red flag there but I’m not sure why they didn’t allow our fast lap. It’s definitely going to be tough starting ninth tomorrow, but we know we’ve got a fast car. We have to have a good start and be strong on the restarts and hopefully work our way up front.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 11TH: ON HIS SPIN: "I got too greedy. With the level of road racing talent we have in the IndyCar Series right now, you have to go for it and push to the limit of yourself and your car if you want to be in the front. We didn't have a very good day of practice (yesterday), but we found what was slowing us down, so the car was fast today and I think we were on a pace to get into the top-six. Qualifying is all about being a hero or a zero, and we were going for it. I feel bad for the team and for DHL and Sun Drop, but I was going for every little bit in turns eight and nine, and it just snapped loose."

RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 2 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 12TH: ON PROBLEMS THAT DIDN’T ALLOW HIM TO TAKE A LAP IN THIRD QUALIFYING SESSION FOR TOP-12: “We had no warning. In P2 everything felt good. It looks like it might be a clutch control unit problem. We are actually getting first gear, it is just that we can’t leave in first gear. Not sure for the reason for that. It is really disappointing. I think we were definitely going to have a good shot at another front row. The car was feeling really solid out there. Anyway, it is disappointing, but it is a long race ahead. Race strategy is going to come into play. I think we’ll be able to make some good passes out there during the race and come to the front.”

MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 TEAM RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 13TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT: "We were too conservative on our setup. We have a good car for the race but we just had way too much understeer to get a good lap."

RUBENS BARRICHELLO – NO. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 14TH: ON TODAY’S QUALIFYING: “Qualifying was ok. I didn’t’ have a car under that allowed me to really get going well. I was struggling a little bit with the setup. That is telling actually. If you think that I am going out all the time…it’s new. Yesterday we didn’t have the track time. This morning because of the fog, there is no track time. So those things come up against me. I had a good run on my lap. But, I’m still not 100% on the car to say ‘oh, well I could have done this or done that’. I’m just hundreds or thousandths from myy teammate and my brother, Tony (Kanaan). So, I have got to be happy. I have got to be happy.

“Of course, if I jump to Q-2 on another set of tires and then you can see me flying. It is just track time. Valuable track time. Like I said, it is no excuse, but you could see that Dario (Franchitti) didn’t make it as well and he has a lot of experience over here. It is just getting myself a little bit more fitted to the way the series is and the car is, I will start to progress.”

ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 24TH: ON HIS QUALIFYING: “We did pick up some good time from Friday. The Chevrolet engine is running great and I think everyone is a big fan of the Firestone Red tires. We only got one session on Friday, so this was our only time to test the improvements we made with the car. We made some pretty big changes today and we were able to gain time. We moved a second closer to Will (Power, fastest in practice) from Friday. So I feel we are moving in the right direction with the Fuzzy’s car. This is my first competition at Barber, so it is a learning curve for me as well as the team. We are really understanding each other better too. I’m happy with the way we are working as a team. We are closing the gap on the field as we did at St. Pete. It stinks that we couldn’t get some more track time this morning, but it is equal for everyone. We are a young team and we would like to get any track time we can get. We’ll make some more changes for the race now.”

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