Saturday is another whole new day at Long Beach for the 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It’s bright, sunny and warm, there’s a nice breeze and the track is green after all Friday’s torrential downpours.
RYAN BRISCOE/Team Penske Chevrolet has won the pole position for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar Series race with a lap time of 108.6089 in the Firestone Fast Six round of qualifying. For the start of the race, DARIO FRANCHITTI/Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, who was fourth fastest at 1:09.0327, will be first at the Green Flag. Briscoe will fall back to P11, after his loss of ten grid positions for an unauthorized engine swap before the weekend.
When asked if “it bites” getting the pole and having to drop back, he acknowledged that “It bites. But, I trust Chevrolet’s judgement in the decision. It’s important we know we have 100 percent in the engine for the race. I trust them in this.”
The top three drivers, all Chevrolets, were very close in time. Second fastest was Briscoe’s teammate, WILL POWER at 1:08.7073, and RYAN HUNTER-REAY/Andretti Autosports had a 1:08.7163
Despite being assessed ten grid positions for Sunday’s race, Briscoe will be accorded all the pomp, circumstance and prize monies which come with winning the pole position. For Sunday’s race, the field will probably line up based on the penalties already assessed, as it will be too difficult for 14 cars to fall back.
Fifth and sixth fastest were E.J. VISO/KV Racing Technology Chevrolet at 1:09.0634 and JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/Andretti Autosports Chevrolet with 1:09.2109.
DARIO FRANCHITTI/Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda could have skipped the entire Firestone Fast Six Qualifying Round and still start first Sunday, as the other five drivers are Chevrolets and will be dropping back for the race start. Franchitti knew he would start first, “but wanted to earn it.”
The top Lotus driver is ORIOL SERVIA/Lotus-DRR, who was twentieth fastest in Qualifying with a time of 1:10.6835
The top Rookie will be JOSEF NEWGARDEN/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, who qualified seventh fastest at 1:10.0697. Newgarden, the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights Champion, will actually be starting second. Franchitti said “I have no concerns about him starting on the front row with me.”
The Fast Six drivers were all pretty jovial and joking about where they will start the race. Hinch quipped that he had to call NASA to find out where he started. None of the Chevy drivers knew exactly where they would be actually starting, but all were good humored about it.
Sunday’s race will start at 1:15 PST. The weather forecast is for more of the same wonderful Southern California weather enjoyed Saturday.