Sonoma IndyCar: Hunter-Reay grabs pole, O’Ward sensational fifth

Ryan Hunter-Reay took his first pole since April 2014 and the seventh of his career in the season finale by edging Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, while Indy Lights champion and IndyCar debutant Patricio O’Ward qualified an amazing fifth.

Sonoma IndyCar: Hunter-Reay grabs pole, O’Ward sensational fifth

Hunter-Reay’s 1min17.6277sec lap of the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway came in the dying seconds of the session, edging points leader Dixon by 0.1322sec, and stealing a potential bonus point from him.

Hunter-Reay’s teammate Alexander Rossi, who lies 29 points behind Dixon in the title fight, elected to save a set of Firestone alternate tires for the race, and thus ran only black primaries in the Firestone Fast Six.

He will start sixth alongside the sensation of the session, Harding Racing-Chevrolet’s O’Ward, who was less than 0.35sec off taking pole position. The Mexican rising star ran only one lap in the final session but was thrilled by an amazing debut.

"It's just something unique," he said. "It's something that you have to start believing that you can be like them, that you can beat them, that you can give them a run for their money. It's a new feeling. I really don't know what to think about it. I couldn't be more stoked for the team. I'm really happy I got to give them their first Firestone Fast Six."

The second row will comprise Josef Newgarden in the fastest of the Team Penske-Chevrolets, and Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti who, like O’Ward, started both the Q2 and Q3 sessions on reds, without bothering with sighting laps on primaries.

Penske’s Will Power and teammate Simon Pagenaud will start seventh and eighth, as Power explained that he and the team had tried to save some life in his reds for Q3 by relying on just a single flying lap in Q2. The tactic failed and he will share the fourth row with Pagenaud, ahead of Graham Rahal’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda.

Zach Veach running onto the Turn 9A dirt on his set of reds relegated him to 10th, ahead of Sebastien Bourdais’ Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan entry and the second RLLR car of Takuma Sato.

Pietro Fittipaldi qualified an impressive 13th fastest for Dale Coyne Racing while teammate Santino Ferrucci was less than 0.1sec slower but will roll off seven places further back.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Hondas of James Hinchcliffe and Carlos Munoz will start 15th and 22nd respectively, split by the SPM-Meyer Shank Racing-Honda of occasional teammate Jack Harvey.

Ed Carpenter Racing duo Spencer Pigot and Jordan King were disappointed with 17th and 25th, the latter setting his best time on the black primary Firestones after encountering a mechanical problem when he switched to the softer reds.

Tony Kanaan, making his 360th start – and 300th consecutive – will roll off 18th.

Firestone Fast Six

Pos. # Driver Time Gap Mph
1 28 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay 1'17.6277   110.605
2 9 New Zealand Scott Dixon 1'17.7599 0.1322 110.417
3 1 United States Josef Newgarden 1'17.7937 0.1660 110.369
4 98 United States Marco Andretti 1'17.7999 0.1722 110.360
5 8 Mexico Patricio O'Ward 1'17.9737 0.3460 110.114
6 27 United States Alexander Rossi 1'18.0019 0.3742 110.074

Q2

Pos. # Driver Time Gap Mph
1 28 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay 1'17.4470   110.863
2 1 United States Josef Newgarden 1'17.4530 0.0060 110.854
3 9 New Zealand Scott Dixon 1'17.5215 0.0745 110.756
4 8 Mexico Patricio O'Ward 1'17.5585 0.1115 110.704
5 27 United States Alexander Rossi 1'17.5711 0.1241 110.686
6 98 United States Marco Andretti 1'17.5813 0.1343 110.671
7 12 Australia Will Power 1'17.6495 0.2025 110.574
8 22 France Simon Pagenaud 1'17.7489 0.3019 110.432
9 15 United States Graham Rahal 1'17.9043 0.4573 110.212
10 26 United States Zach Veach 1'17.9111 0.4641 110.203
11 18 France Sébastien Bourdais 1'17.9242 0.4772 110.184
12 30 Japan Takuma Sato 1'17.9919 0.5449 110.088

Q1 - Group 2

Pos. # Driver Time Gap Mph
1 28 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay 1'17.5068   110.777
2 9 New Zealand Scott Dixon 1'17.5943 0.0875 110.652
3 1 United States Josef Newgarden 1'17.6219 0.1151 110.613
4 26 United States Zach Veach 1'18.1307 0.6239 109.893
5 8 Mexico Patricio O'Ward 1'18.1765 0.6697 109.828
6 18 France Sébastien Bourdais 1'18.3676 0.8608 109.561
7 10 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones 1'18.5088 1.0020 109.364
8 60 United Kingdom Jack Harvey 1'18.5892 1.0824 109.252
9 14 Brazil Tony Kanaan 1'18.5966 1.0898 109.241
10 39 United States Santino Ferrucci 1'18.6172 1.1104 109.213
11 6 Colombia Carlos Munoz 1'18.7211 1.2143 109.069
12 23 United States Charlie Kimball 1'18.8495 1.3427 108.891
13 20 United Kingdom Jordan King 1'19.1519 1.6451 108.475

Q1 - Group 1

Pos. # Driver Time Gap Mph
1 22 France Simon Pagenaud 1'17.9171   110.194
2 27 United States Alexander Rossi 1'17.9283 0.0112 110.178
3 12 Australia Will Power 1'17.9290 0.0119 110.177
4 30 Japan Takuma Sato 1'18.0023 0.0852 110.074
5 98 United States Marco Andretti 1'18.0472 0.1301 110.010
6 15 United States Graham Rahal 1'18.2625 0.3454 109.708
7 19 Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi 1'18.5281 0.6110 109.337
8 5 Canada James Hinchcliffe 1'18.5740 0.6569 109.273
9 21 United States Spencer Pigot 1'18.6687 0.7516 109.141
10 88 United States Colton Herta 1'18.6823 0.7652 109.122
11 59 United Kingdom Max Chilton 1'18.7536 0.8365 109.024
12 4 Brazil Matheus Leist 1'18.9665 1.0494 108.730
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