Sonoma: Series qualifying report

POWER EARNS RECORD EIGHTH POLE OF 2010 AT SONOMA SONOMA, Calif. (Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010) - Will Power earned his IZOD IndyCar Series-record eighth PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season. Advancing to the Firestone Fast Six was the more ...

Sonoma: Series qualifying report


SONOMA, Calif. (Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010) - Will Power earned his IZOD IndyCar Series-record eighth PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season. Advancing to the Firestone Fast Six was the more difficult part of qualifications for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Power posted a quick lap of 1 minute, 16.5282 seconds with 1:30 left in the 10-minute shootout on the 2.303-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway natural-terrain circuit to claim the pole for the 75-lap race. Helio Castroneves (1:16.5652) will join his Team Penske teammate on the front row.

Dario Franchitti (1:16.9437), who enters the race 42 points behind Power in the championship standings, will share Row 2 with Alex Tagliani (1:17.2068). Ryan Briscoe (1:17.2109) and Scott Dixon (1:17.3470), who extended his series-record streak to 45 top-10 starts, will be on the third row.

With a minute left in Round 2 of qualifying, Power was on the outside of advancing by four-tenths of a second to Justin Wilson of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. The team switched to a sticker set of Firestone alternate tires in an effort to make up the difference.

He recorded a lap of 1:16.8072 to bump his way into the Firestone Fast Six.

Also on Aug. 21, Firestone Indy Lights rookie J.K. Vernay turned a quick lap of 1 minute, 23.5582 seconds in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car to earn the Sunoco Pole Award for the 40-lap Carneros 100.

Charlie Kimball, driving the No. 26 Levemir FlexPen entry for AFS Racing Andretti Autosport, jumped to second (1:23.5977) on his final lap.

James Hinchcliffe (1:23.6732) in the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car will start third and Gustavo Yacaman recorded his best qualifying effort of the season (fourth at 1:23.7108) in the No. 10 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing car.


IZOD IndyCar Series technical information for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma:

Honda overtake assist

Overtake assist was introduced to the series in August 2009 and will make be used for the second time at Infineon Raceway in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

The system employed by Honda Performance Development is an ECU software alteration. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout.

For the 2.230-mile, 11-turn Infineon Raceway:
15 uses
15 seconds duration each use 10-second recharge period between uses

Firestone Firehawk tires

Each car receives six sets (24 tires) of primary tires and three sets (12 tires) of the alternate (red-sidewall) tires.

The primary tire specification for Infineon Raceway was used as the alternate tire at the 2010 Barber and Edmonton events. The alternates are new for this race. The primary spec is the softest primary Firestone will use all season. The alternate tires are identical in construction to the primaries but contain an even softer tread compound, which will provide more grip and faster lap times, yet will trade off some compound durability in exchange for those shorter-term advantages.

AL SPEYER (Executive Director of Firestone Racing): "Mid-Ohio is a special circuit for us since it is a short drive from our Akron Technical Center where the Firestone Racing race tire development staff is based and where the fine Firehawk race tires are designed and produced. Many of our tech center staff will be on hand this weekend to witness the rewards of their efforts. The primary and alternate tires have contributed greatly to the exciting racing we've seen on the road and street courses this season and, based on the testing performed at Mid-Ohio to develop this year's specs, we expect the new Firehawks to do more of the same."

Aero package

Infineon Raceway is in the road course/short oval category of aero packages for the IZOD IndyCar Series. Here are mandatory and optional items for teams:

Rear wings: Tire ramps and sidepod extensions are optional.

Front wings: Wing flaps are open development area. Maximum of two elements per side is permitted and a divider is mandatory.


During the off week, Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti stopped by Target House in Memphis, Tenn., to visit with children and their families.

Since 1999, more than 1,300 children and families have called Target House home. Target House provides nearly 100 free, fully-equipped apartments for families and patients receiving long-term treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.


Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Andretti Autosport's Tony Kanaan, both previous winners at Infineon Raceway, are the only drivers to complete every lap (395) in the five IZOD IndyCar Series races.


IZOD IndyCar Series driver Will Power clinched the inaugural Mario Andretti Road Championship on Aug. 8 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

He was assisted at the unveiling of the trophy Aug. 19 in San Francisco by the trophy's namesake.

"It would be great to have two celebrations in Victory Circle," said Power, who earned the award based on amassing an insurmountable points lead through eight of the nine road/street course races on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule.

Power now is focused on maintaining a comfortable lead over defending Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma winner Dario Franchitti to secure his first overall driver championship.

"I got to test (at the 2.303-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway) last week, and I think that was important for me. I'm confident, but I'm aware that Dario is very quick around here. We're just going to keep doing what we've been doing, give it everything we've got because I want to really win this championship."

Following the trophy unveiling in front of the Macy's store in Union Square, thousands of fans were treated to seeing historic cars along Geary Street and an autograph session featuring stars of Indy car racing past and present including: Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser Jr., Arie Luyendyk, Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dan Wheldon, Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and Power.

Lining Geary Street were the 1911 Marmon Wasp (the car that won the inaugural Indianapolis 500), the 1928 Miller "Front Drive Special," the 1938 Maserati 8CTF "Boyle Valve Special," the 1950 "Cummins Diesel Special," the 1961 Watson "Bowes Seal Fast Special," and the 1972 McLaren "Sunoco Special."


Helio Castroneves doesn't recall what exactly was on the menu, which is understandable. He was engrossed in conversations.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 champion was among the guests Aug. 18 at the residence of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was hosting a dinner party in honor of Sao Paulo (Brazil) Mayor Gilberto Kassab.

Other guests at the table included model Adriana Lima and her husband, NBA player Marko Jaric; IZOD IndyCar Series commercial division president Terry Angstadt; Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune; Optimer Pharmaceuticals CEO and president Pedro Lightinger; and H. Stern Jewelry CEO Susan Nichols.

"What a great evening and an honor," said Castroneves, who flew to New York earlier in the day after assisting IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard announce the night before the 2011 Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway. "It was great to see Mayor Kassab, who asked for opinions about the (Sao Paulo Indy 300) to improve for next year. He's willing to accept whatever suggestions we drivers have and make whatever improvements are necessary.

"Mayor Bloomberg also was very interested in the racing. To meet the guy who has done so much for New York was just an honor for me."

Mayor Kassab was instrumental in bringing the IZOD IndyCar Series to Brazil for the first time last March on a street circuit that incorporated the Sambadrome (Carnival parade stadium).

"Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Kassab could have not been more engaging," Angstadt said. "Mayor Bloomberg made the mayor of Sao Paulo and his staff feel so welcome. Mayor Kassab invited Mayor Bloomberg to Sao Paulo, and suggested that his goal for Sao Paulo is to make it half as successful as the City of New York under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership."


Dario Franchitti, the defending Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma winner, won his first Indy car race on Aug. 16, 1998. He led 23 laps en route to victory at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Franchitti, who won at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 8, has 25 career wins in Indy car racing, with 15 coming in the IZOD IndyCar Series.


No. 1,250 and counting: The Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will mark Penske Racing's 1,250th all-time open-wheel racing start.



- Will Power won the Peak Performance Pole Award. Power now holds the record for the most poles in one season with eight. This is Power's sixth consecutive front row start.

- Helio Castroneves qualified second. This is Castroneves' fourth front row start of the season.

- Dario Franchitti qualified third, his ninth consecutive top-five start of the season.

- Alex Tagliani qualified fourth. This is Tagliani's first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six since he qualified second at Sao Paulo.

- Ryan Briscoe qualified fifth. This is Briscoe's seventh top-five start of the season.

- Scott Dixon will start sixth. Dixon has extended his record of consecutive top-10 starts to 45.


WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): "I wasn't sure I was going to pull it off in the second round of qualifying. I was two-tenths off from the Fast Six. I knew it was going to be very close for pole here. I'm really stoked to get the Verizon team a record eight poles this season. It is important that we start up front here. This is the toughest series I have ever raced in. It is just so tight now. You can't leave anything on the table."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified second): "It was very consistent. The Team Penske car was very good. We made some incredible changes and made great gains from yesterday. Ron Ruzewski my engineer did a n awesome job. It was one corner. I guess that made the difference. I didn't want to take too much of a chance, but when they told me I was P2, I only had one lap and the tires were already a little bit shot. Good job to Team Penske to sweep the front row. Now we need to be there at the end."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified third): "We're definitely going to try to get (Will) tomorrow. He's did a great job in qualifying. There's no doubt about it. The Target car was probably a 95 percent car today. I think I left a half a tenth on the table myself with a slight mistake. We'll see what we have tomorrow, but I'm disappointed with third today."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team, qualified fourth): "With the tires the way they are, you only have about one lap. The tires we had on the car, we used in the second segment and I missed Turn 3 by a little bit (on my flying lap). The car pushed and I missed 3A. That was the lap. The second lap was good, but it was not as good as the first lap could have been."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, qualified fifth): "I'm pretty happy to be in the Fast Six. P5 is pretty good result for us. We're struggling with the balance and the tires and the wind gusts. It was difficult to get a clean lap. I feel good starting where we are, and hopefully we can get the team Penske car up to the front."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified sixth): "We were a few tenths (of a second) off most of the qualifying. We made a few changes from this morning that helped. Generally, in the Firestone Fast Six we struggled with getting into the corners with grip and kind of backpedaled a little bit. All in all, both Target cars in the top six is good."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, qualified eighth): "We were so far off yesterday that we changed everything in the IZOD car for today and started fresh. So, we really only had one practice session under our belts and I think that was the difference today. We were close, but the road course competition is ridiculous right now. Tomorrow is going to be a great race. We're starting eighth; we can work from there."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven/Dr Pepper Cherry, qualified ninth): "Obviously, missing yesterday's session (because of a fuel pump problem) hurt us today. We did what we could. But, the way the competition is right now, you can't leave anything on the table. With only an hour to work with this morning, we needed to take a bit of a risk. And, when you do that, you've got to be prepared to be a hero or a zero. We took our shot and could have put it in the top six. We ended up ninth, but it is what it is."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic, qualified 14th): "I think we improved the car since the morning practice but the times are so close that we missed progressing to the top-six and Round 2 by hundredths of a second. The difference between progressing to Round 2 and having a shot at a top starting position and starting 14th is very slim. Still I thought the car was quite good. The team did a good job on the car. A good thing is that we have two new sets of red Firestone tires for the race and I think that is an advantage."

E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA- KV Racing Technology, qualified 15th): "It was a very disappointing qualifying, not only for me but for everyone on the team. It's frustrating that no one from KV Racing Technology made it into the top-12. We worked last week on improving the car and its seems the changes we made didn't help us this weekend. Today, the track is totally different and that's why we have found it hard to get the right balance with the car. We'll have to make adjustments and be ready for the race."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 NHR/Quick Trim, qualified 16th): "The times are really close but the session was frustrating because I really thought we had what it took to progress to the next round. We made some changes for qualifying and the car wasn't quite as good for me but I thought we would still be able to sneak through (to Round 2) but unfortunately I came out of the pits too close to Hideki and I don't think I got one clear lap. When he went out of the pits right away I lifted way off and still caught up to him. It's frustrating because I think we could have gotten to Round 2."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus - KV Racing Technology, qualified 17th): "I am very disappointed. We seemed to be missing something fundamental. We couldn't seem to find the right balance and grip out there. When I changed to the alternate (red) tire, I was able to get better grip but that was irrelevant because the rest of the field also improved. We will go over all the data tonight and prepare for warm-up and the race tomorrow."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, qualified 18th): "It's really disappointing to see the Venom car starting 18th this weekend. I was on fast lap when I went off and lost some time. The field is so tight here and every tenth of a second counts. We'll do the best we can tomorrow with where we're starting but we were hoping for more out of today."

bVITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co. A.J. Foyt Racing, qualified 21st): "Every time we go out on the track we make improvements. We made a big improvement for qualifying - I believe we'll be competitive in the race but I hope it isn't too late. We're not starting where we wanted but this is a race where fuel strategy counts a lot, so you never know. I'm a little more hopeful for the weekend after qualifying than I was after the first practice."

MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology, qualified 20th): "We knew we would be in a tough qualifying session today. We jumped into the top-six early in the run. But we didn't have the speed to advance to the next round. We'll have to utilize a fuel strategy for the race. Last year we came from 14th to fourth. We will work on the plan tonight and be ready for the race on Sunday.

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team, qualified 23rd): "I was confident we could make it out of the first qualifying session and into the top 12, but it didn't end up working out that way for the GoDaddy team today. I'm going to need to be strong on the start and restarts, and have solid pit stops so we can make up as much ground as possible during the race come tomorrow."


- J.K. Vernay won the pole for the Carneros 100. This is his third Firestone Indy Lights pole. He previously won the pole at Barber Motorsports Park and Toronto.

- Both races that Vernay has started from the pole, he has lead flag-to-flag.

- Charlie Kimball qualified second, his third front-row starting position this season.

- James Hinchcliffe qualified third, his eight top-five start of the season.

- Gustavo Yacaman qualified fourth, matching his best starting position of the season. He previously qualified fourth at Toronto.


J.K. VERNAY (No. 7 Lucas/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Sunoco Pole Award winner): "It was really tight again with James (Hinchcliffe). We are always fighting for half a tenth (of a second). That was a great battle. I have to thank the team. The car was great again. I am really happy. After the disappointing weekend at Mid-Ohio, I wanted to be quick here. It's fantastic. Now tomorrow we have to stay focused to the race. The goal is to win the championship and we have to finish well to do that."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 26 Levemir FlexPen, qualified second): "It's a great result for the Levemir FlexPen car. The whole AFS Racing Andretti Autosport crew gave me a great car from the first practice. It's a lot of fun to drive here when the car is good. We've been fighting the sun all year. When it gets hot, we struggle a little bit more. We were hoping the marine layer would stay for a bit longer, but four hundredths, I'll take that. Come tomorrow, if I get a good start tomorrow, I'll have a shot at the win."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 TMR - Xtreme Coil Drilling, qualified third): "We tried something different in practice, but went back to what we had in the first practice for qualifying. It was like starting from scratch. The car was good. The tires fall off after two laps and we couldn't get two clean laps. If we had, we might have gotten the pole, but that's the nature of qualifying."

GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 10 Cape Motorsport with Wayne Taylor Racing, qualified fourth): "The car was great. We struggled in the practice sessions, but we've got a pretty strong car. We have pretty good race pace. The track isn't too bad. There's a spot where the NASCAR part transitions which isn't too good for us, but I think we'll be OK tomorrow."

DAN CLARKE (No. 40 Wasteco Deans Knight Special, qualified fifth): "We had some problems early on. We damaged the front wing and the front end of the car so the car wasn't good at all. We kept up with it and picked up a couple of tenths but it still wasn't good. We've been top five every week since we got a new engineer, but I'm still disappointed. We can't find that pole position.

-source: irl

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