Castroneves grabs pole in slightly bizarre fashion

A moved timing loop and a red flag caused by Will Power threw the formbook out the window in the final stage of IndyCar qualifying at Long Beach.

Castroneves grabs pole in slightly bizarre fashion

The result is that last year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach polesitter, Helio Castroneves, is also P1 for the 42nd edition of the race.

The Team Penske-Chevrolet driver was first onto the track at the start of the final Q3 segment of qualifying. That promptness paid off handsomely as it meant the evergreen Brazilian had put in his best effort by the time the red flags flew.

It is the 47th pole of Castroneves' Indy car career, now in its 20th season.

When the green flags flew to resume the session following Power’s trip into a run-off area, the drivers had barely enough time to squeeze out another flying lap. But it was enough for Scott Dixon to at least close the deficit to Castroneves from an unrepresentative 1sec to 0.33sec and grab second place.

Nonetheless, the Chip Ganassi Racing-Chevy driver was reasonably certain he would have been fighting for pole in normal circumstances, after the #9 squad made radical and positive changes to his setup.

The second row will echo the front, as drivers from Penske and Ganassi will line up third and fourth, championship leader Simon Pagenaud ahead of Tony Kanaan.

Juan Montoya took fifth place, while Power had his two fastest laps deleted for causing the session stoppage. He will start sixth.

Qualifying had already turned slightly odd as the timing loop at the final hairpin went down during Q2, thus at the end of the segment, there was delayed gratification for those who made the Firestone Fast Six, as IndyCar recovered the data.

When this had been done, James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt Peterson Motorsport), Takuma Sato (AJ Foyt Racing) and Josef Newgarden (Ed Carpenter Racing) were among those left on the outside looking in. For Q3, the start/finish line for the timing was moved to the back straight.

Two Andretti Autosport-Hondas showed signs of recovery after disappointing for most of the weekend, and Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay will line up 10th and 11th. However, their teammates Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti are 16th and 21st.

Dale Coyne Racing-Honda made a big step forward after troubled practice sessions, so that Conor Daly only just missed progressing to Q2, while Luca Filippi did succeed in moving on. Filippi, like Daly, was only seventh fastest, but KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais started his final lap two seconds too late, and thus his final flyer – which was fifth quickest in that session – did not count.

Another surprise elimination in Q1 was Graham Rahal, whose Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda has been a top six contender all weekend, – even in the last session, when he crashed. However, he was stymied by understeer in Turn 6 and lack of traction on corner exits.

IndyCar 2016 - Long Beach - Qualifying
P.DriverTeamTime
1 3  Helio Castroneves  Penske (C) 1:07.1246
2 9  Scott Dixon  Ganassi (C) 1:07.4455
3 22  Simon Pagenaud  Penske (C) 1:07.7410
4 10  Tony Kanaan  Ganassi (C) 1:07.7951
5 2  Juan Pablo Montoya  Penske (C) 1:07.9054
6 12  Will Power  Penske (C) No time
7 5  James Hinchcliffe  Schmidt (H) 1:07.1415
8 14  Takuma Sato  Foyt (H) 1:07.2299
9 21  Josef Newgarden  Carpenter (C) 1:07.2548
10 26  Carlos Muñoz  Andretti (H) 1:07.2663
11 28  Ryan Hunter-Reay  Andretti (H) 1:07.3171
12 19  Luca Filippi  Coyne (H) 1:07.9660
13 18  Conor Daly  Coyne (H) 1:07.7520
14 11  Sébastien Bourdais  KVSH (C) 1:07.6432
15 83  Charlie Kimball  Ganassi (C) 1:07.8065
16 98  Alexander Rossi  Andretti-Herta (H) 1:07.6872
17 15  Graham Rahal  Rahal (H) 1:07.8841
18 7  Mikhail Aleshin  Schmidt (H) 1:07.8513
19 8  Max Chilton  Ganassi (C) 1:08.3843
20 41  Jack Hawksworth  Foyt (H) 1:07.9929
21 27  Marco Andretti  Andretti (H) 1:08.2045

(C) = Chevrolet, (H) = Honda

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