Helio Castroneves/No.3 REV Group Team Penske Chevrolet has the pole for Saturday night’s Verizon IndyCar Series Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix, with a qualifying lap of 19.0997 seconds/192.631 mph- a single lap track record. He was one of six drivers who broke the existing track record of 19.608 seconds set by Arie Luyendyk on 23 March 1996. When measuring track records, IndyCar goes by time rather than speed. At PIR when the track record was set by Luyendyk, the track measured one mile. It now measures 1.022 miles.
This was the 46th pole position for Castroneves, his second at PIR, his 28th pole on an oval track, and the 236th pole position for Team Penske.
“It’s great to be breaking the record, which has been around 20 years. Arie said he was happy to give me the crown.That was cool. It’s great to see him again.
“We definitely pushed the limit. Now we gotta focus for tomorrow. I’m really excited for tomorrow night, but we’ve got to continue working because qualifying is one thing, racing is another. ”
Tony Kanaan/No.10 GE LED Chip Ganassi Racing Teams was second fastest. Third was Juan Pablo Montoya/No.2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, who has more experience at PIR than any other driver due to all of his NASCAR experience. Fourth and fifth were Charlie Kimball/No.84 Tresiba Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet and Ed Carpenter/No.20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.
Of the eleven Chevrolet drivers in the field, ten are in the top ten, with the other in P15.
The top Honda driver was Marco Andretti/No.27 United Fiber & Data/Snapple Andretti Autosport Honda coming in eleventh.
The drivers went out in single file, with the qualifying order set by the drivers drawing their position as they entered the Friday morning Driver’s Meeting. The drivers had two laps with the average being his qualifying time.
Max Chilton/No.8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was again the fastest Rookie, running eighth. Kanaan has been working closely with Chilton, and said “He’s the most mature rookie I’ve worked with. I’m not surprised he’s that good. He’s very capable, so I know he’s going to be good. We have a pretty good chemistry in the team as far as sharing information. But he’s a very mature rookie, so I would say he’s going to give us a hard time pretty soon.”
Carlos Munoz No.26 Andretti Autosport Honda crashed on his qualifying lap. He rear ended the wall in Turn One. He was the second car out – the first Honda. His lap was 185.689 mph, and he will start twenty-first based on entrant points. He was seen in the Infield Care Center and underwent further evaluation for soft tissue injuries to his legs, before he was cleared and released for driving. Munoz said “It’s my first really big crash. My legs are OK.”
The two drivers who crashed in the morning practice session did not qualify. Based on entrant points, Takuma Sato/No.14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda will start twentieth and James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Racing Honda will start last in twenty-second.
Kyle Kaiser/18 Juncos Racing was the fastest Indy Lights driver in the second practice session, at 165.546 mph/0.22.2247 seconds. Second through fifth were Rookie Zachery Claman De Melo/No.13 Juncos Racing, RC Enerson/No.7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports w/Curb-Agajanian, Ed Jones/No.11 Carlin, and Rookie Neil Alberico/No.22 Carlin. Overall Felix Serralles/No.4 Carlin is still fastest overall for the day at 166.0617 mph/0.22.0617 seconds.
Indy Lights drivers qualify Friday afternoon for their Saturday afternoon race; and IndyCar drivers will get a half-hour night practice starting at 6:15pm local time, replicating race conditions.
PHOTOS BY PABLO MATAMOROS
Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix Qualifying Results
1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 192.324
2. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 191.511
3. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 191.366
4. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 191.220
5. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 190.780
6. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 190.376
7. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 190.094
8. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 189.972
9. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 189.749
10. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 189.654
11. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 189.071
12. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 188.966
13. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 187.998
14. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 186.939
15. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 186.544
16. (19) Luca Filippi, Honda, 185.814
17. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 185.046
18. (18) Conor Daly, Honda, 184.261
19. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 179.770
20. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, no speed
21. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, no speed
22. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, no speed