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

shares
comments
Andretti team still hopeful despite bad Friday at Long Beach

Previous article

Andretti team still hopeful despite bad Friday at Long Beach

Next article

Chevy Indycar at Long Beach: Team Chevy driver post qualifying quotes

Chevy Indycar at Long Beach: Team Chevy driver post qualifying quotes
Load comments
Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy Prime

Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy

Tino Belli, IndyCar’s director of aerodynamic development, believes the changes to the underside of the cars will allow them to run closer at Indy and make passes. The moment of truth comes on its biggest stage, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

Colton Herta – America's next racing hero Prime

Colton Herta – America's next racing hero

Last Sunday, Colton Herta demolished his IndyCar opposition in the second round of the season. David Malsher-Lopez explains why Andretti Autosport’s youngest ace bears all the hallmarks of becoming the country’s next homegrown motorsport hero.

IndyCar
Apr 29, 2021
How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival? Prime

How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?

Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Apr 21, 2021
Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call Prime

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call

The fight for supremacy in the NTT IndyCar Series will be as intense as ever. David Malsher-Lopez is your guide to the main contenders and six intriguing sub-plots.

IndyCar
Apr 15, 2021
Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight? Prime

Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight?

With Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up, 2021 could be the year Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet joins the IndyCar elite, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team Prime

Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team

Over 37 seasons, Dale Coyne has run no fewer than 80 Indy car drivers – including himself! Ahead of his first season running Romain Grosjean, we asked Coyne to pick the best 10 drivers ever to compete for him. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 10, 2021
Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed Prime

Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed

Last Friday, Marco Andretti announced he is withdrawing from fulltime IndyCar racing. David Malsher-Lopez explains how this third-gen racer was a puzzle in the car, but a straight shooter off-track.

IndyCar
Jan 19, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020