"What They're Saying" from Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio qualifying

The 2016 championship leader hustled his car around the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to edge teammate Will Power for the pole position and will lead the 22-car field to start tomorrow's race.

"What They're Saying" from Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio qualifying
Polesitter Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, steering wheel detail
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
P.DriverTeam (Engine)Time/deficit
1 22 Simon Pagenaud http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Pagenaud_s.png Penske (C) 1:03.8700
"I didn't know about that (new track record). That is good. The PPG Chevrolet has been really good this weekend. It was more on me really because I have been struggling a little bit with my really bad lower back. They did a lot work on me. We didn't need to do too much on the car, more on me this weekend. We put those Firestone red tires on and again, the car was beautiful. That was an interesting qualifying. The expectation of rain, no rain. There were some drops in Segment 2 that made it more difficult. And there at the end I think the strategy was perfect to start (the Firestone Fast Six segment). (A win) is exactly what we need to do for the championship. It is a long season, so if you can repeat wins like we were doing at the beginning of the season then it would be great to extend the gap. We've been just as competitive all year. It has been just an incredible year. A lot of fun for sure."
2 12 Will Power http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Power_s.png Penske (C) 1:03.9381
"It was just like mayhem not knowing what tires to use, and everyone went out on reds so we went out and did one lap on blacks and came straight in for reds. It was just a mixed-up session, and it was tiring as hell because you had to run every single lap like -- the Firestone Fast Six, I took a lap to take a breather. It was crazy. Good to start the Verizon Chevrolet on the front row. Going to be a pretty long day, 90 laps around this joint is tough. I'll see what I can do." 
3 21 Josef Newgarden http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Newgarden_s.png Carpenter (C) 1:04.1200
"It was really exciting, actually. I was nervous in the second round. We were debating new or used reds in the second group, no one really knew it what it was going to do. It looked like it was going to rain, then it didn't, then it kind of did. We ended up going out on scuffs and I struggled, I couldn't really get a good lap time on them. We came in and put on new tires and it started raining in Turn 4. I thought 'Well, we just shot ourselves in the foot.' The next lap it dried up and I got a good time and got in the Firestone Fast Six. We did a pretty decent job and ended up third. I feel good about where we are starting. That's a good spot for us. We should try and challenge the two Penske guys (Simon Pagenaud and Will Power) for the whole race. They'll be tough to beat. They're really, really good around here on their tires. I think that's what it's going to take. Kind of like Barber, you have to have good longevity on your tires. That's where we got beat in Barber, so we have got to work on that tomorrow morning. If we can do that, we should have a pretty good day with the Fuzzy's Vodka Chevy."
4 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Hunter-Reay_s.png Andretti (H) 1:04.3265
"We had to work for it today. That was tough - to get that lap time out of the car. The engineering department did a great job making the right changes overnight. We found grip. That's what it's all about; we've been looking for it. It was rewarding today to be in the (Firestone) Fast Six and then actually compete for that front row. It's going to be a long race tomorrow, but this is where we need to be. We've had a pole here before, we've been on the podium here a few times and this is one of our better tracks. Smiles here right now, but it's back to work tomorrow." 
5 83 Charlie Kimball http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Kimball_s.png Ganassi (C) 1:04.3644
"There was definitely a lot going on out there in qualifying. One of the challenges for us in Group 1 qualifying was going out on a green track. It took a long time for the grip to come in and the Firestone tires to start really working. A lot of people went with two sets of alternates in anticipation of the rain. I thought we might have shot ourselves in the foot a bit going out on used primary and alternate sets and running around tenth or 11th at the time. At the end, we took a set of sticker tires and ended up in the 64.40 second range which proved to work. Overall I'm happy with the effort and looking forward to a great race here tomorrow."  
6 15 Graham Rahal http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Rahal_s.png Rahal (H) 1:04.4697
"I'm really pleased with the performance of the Steak 'n Shake team. These guys never cease to amaze me and they did one heck of a job today. The weekend did not start off well, but they kept working hard. I'm pleased to be starting sixth. I started 13th last year so I have a lot less work to do. There are a lot of fast guys around us but I think we can out race them. It's going to be a physical race. There is going to be a lot of tired guys out here tomorrow. It's going to be a pretty hard race so hopefully that suits our team well. To be honest, we played our card and decided to run one set of reds (Firestone alternate tires) through three stints so that was a pretty old set of tires we ran at the end. Had we put the other set of reds on I think we could have gone considerably better, but we know from looking at strategy from last year that to have good reds is going to be key for the race, so we decided to keep a set fresh and not use them for more than one run. Group 2 (Rahal's group) got a little hosed with the rain so we had to use two sets of reds in our group." 
7 3 Helio Castroneves http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Castroneves_s.png Penske (C) 1:04.4300
"We just missed the final round by a little bit. We have to stop doing that. Seriously, the Hitachi Chevrolet felt good today. The guys give me a great car every week. They're the best. It would be great to start a little closer to the front, but we'll see how the yellows shake out tomorrow during the race. I'm excited and think we'll be able to make some noise." 
8 2 Juan Pablo Montoya http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Montoya_s.png Penske (C) 1:04.5141
"The Hawk Performance Chevrolet was very strong today and we almost made it to the Firestone Fast Six. We would have had it not been for a few wet areas on the course, especially on Turn 4 and 5. But we'll take our starting position and attempt to work our way to the front in tomorrow's race." 
9 5 James Hinchcliffe http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Hinchcliffe_s.png Schmidt (H) 1:04.5796
"It was an entertaining qualifying session, if nothing else. We kind of pulled the short straw by being in Group 2 because the rain looked like it was coming so a lot of guys took two sets of reds during that first qualifying round. When we went out for the second round, the guys like me that went out on used reds to start were the quickest so it shows that the car had really good pace on used tires. If we had gotten into the Firestone Fast Six, that would've been a good sign for sure but we did our first run and ended up P1. The rain looked like it was coming. The guys from Group 1 in the first round had new tires and we really didn't want to put a second run on our second set of reds. This is a red tire race so punishing the second set of reds for another run, it just didn't feel right for tomorrow, so it knocked us down the grid a little bit but I think we have a better tire situation than some of the guys in front of us and we can capitalize on that tomorrow. I'm proud of the Arrow Electronics team and the effort this weekend, and we're going to make it a good race." 
10 7 Mikhail Aleshin http://cdn-1.motorsport.com/static/custom/car-thumbs/INDYCAR_2016/13-MidOhio/Aleshin_s.png Schmidt (H) 1:04.6084
"I think the qualifying was not too bad for us. Both cars are in the top ten and for me, it's definitely not a bad result based on where we started the practices yesterday. That was a difficult day for us and today we had good progress in the SMP Racing car. We finished 13th in the session before qualifying this morning and 10th in qualifying, so it's good progress. We just need to continue going the same way in the race. We have good speed and the race is long so I'm sure we can have a good result." 

(C) = Chevrolet, (H) = Honda


Pagenaud edges Power to grab sixth pole of the year

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