Indy – Dixon Claims Peak Performance Pole Award At Mid-Ohio

August 7, 2011


Scott Dixon posted a quick lap of 1 minute, 8.1671 seconds in the Firestone Fast Six to earn his first PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone of the season.

Team Penske‘s Ryan Briscoe will start on the front row for the second time this season, and IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Dario Franchitti will start third in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.

Will Power, who earned five of the six road/street course pole positions coming into the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, qualified fourth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car.

Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport and Graham Rahal of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing will start on Row 3 in the 85-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn course.

It’s appropriate that Helio Castroneves’ 199th start for Team Penske occurs at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where he’s played a role in the team’s success: victories in 2000 and 2001 highlighting five podium finishes in eight starts, plus pole starts in 2007 and ’08.

Overall, Team Penske has had seven victories in 26 Indy car races at the natural-terrain circuit since 1980 (including 1992-95 when Emerson Fittipaldi and Al Unser Jr. each won two races in a row).  A Team Penske driver has started from the pole in each of the four IZOD IndyCar Series races (Will Power in 2010 and Ryan Brisoce in ’09 in addition to Castroneves).

Following his season-high runner-up finish to Power on the City Centre Airport circuit, which bumped him three positions in the championship standings to ninth, Castroneves is aiming for another top finish (even earning a victory for the 12th consecutive season).

“We found some stuff in the car that we didn’t have in the past,” Castroneves said of the Edmonton Indy result. “I believe that helps a lot to be more consistent, especially with the braking points like Edmonton. So in the race I was able to be consistent, to be like I’ve always been.

“For the first time, a little bit of a double-car restart played in my favor. I’ve been the one that’s in the middle or hit the car. I guess those are the factors that helped to put me right in front. Once you’re in front, it was like the good old days.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): “The race is what pays the points and we’ve put ourselves in a good situation by winning the pole. We all thought it was going to rain, so everyone was pushing as hard as possible early on in the session. It was a hell of a workout during the session. I’m a little red right now. (Are you glad it didn’t rain?): “It was the same for everybody and I’m not sure how our car would have worked in the wet compared to the others. I think we would have been decent, but we got the pole and that’s what counts today. I’m happy for Team Target. They’ve worked hard all season and we haven’t had the luck that we’ve needed. Dario (Franchitti) has been stealing all the fame here. It’s nice to get a pole.”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental): “It was a very hard-fought battle out there. This is a very physical track and it takes its toll on you. The track kept improving during qualifying and you really needed to be out there to take advantage of it. We’re feeling good starting on the front row here. The Penske Truck Rental car has been fast and we can definitely win from there. Last time we started second here, we won the race in 2008, so hopefully we can have another result like that tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): “It was a good, solid result for the Verizon car, starting in the first two rows is definitely a place we can win from. Really, we’re right where we need to be. We gave it everything we had, but just didn’t quite have the car for pole today. I feel pretty good about it, though. What we have to do is be smart tomorrow, stay out of trouble and it should be a good day.”

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): “I’m a little confused with our performance because the Telemundo car felt good and I felt good. I thought I was pushing it and not making mistakes but the lap time was just not coming. I really don’t know what to say; the car wasn’t bad. It’s the strangest thing to have the worst qualifying of the year when the car feels good. The setup is not bad because obviously James is running well. Luckily I have a great strategist calling my race. The car is not bad, we just missed on our qualifying run somehow. Nothing is lost but it’s disappointing to start 20th.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): “Again, we were just on the outside looking in (to get into the Firestone Fast Six) but for a rookie it’s not a bad place to be. We were one of the few guys that didn’t test here last week so we came in having to learn real quick and a big thanks has to go to Oriol and everyone on the Telemundo car because they did come test and obviously we started with that setup and the car was good right away in Friday’s practice. And it was good this morning so we knew we were going to be relatively competitive. We just put together a good Lap in Round 1 and were pretty competitive in Round 2 as well. I think it (being one of few that didn’t test last week here) is probably more a mental thing than anything. It’s just knowing that everybody else was here pounding around. When you come here for the race, the conditions are different; there are eight different kinds of rubber on the track from the different series so its very different conditions from the test day but its just me wanting to get to know the place in the Indy car and luckily we managed to get that done pretty quick in the first session.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Penske Truck Rental): “It’s certainly a disappointing qualifying result. It’s been tough to get a handle on the set-up of the Penske Truck Rental car this weekend. The car was really loose throughout the session and we just couldn’t find the grip we needed to make it to the next round of qualifying. We will continue to work on the car and make sure we are ready for the race tomorrow.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): “We tried to take the Venom car closer to Ryan’s (Hunter-Reay) setup but it just didn’t work for us today. We were in and out of the top six in our group but didn’t have what we needed in the end. Obviously 19th is not where we want to be starting tomorrow but we’ll do what we can to make our way through the field.”

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): “Like Edmonton, we didn’t have the strongest qualifying session. But we had a strong finish so I have confidence we can do the same here at Mid-Ohio with the car.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): “I’m disappointed with the fifth place result.  We really got aggressive with the front end of the car today.  I just couldn’t keep the rear end under me in the corners. I almost lost a couple of times, but, hey, it’s qualifying and we can still get to the front in the race.  We can move our way up in the race.  We will improve the car in the morning practice.   I thought I could put together a good lap and we could have been second or third on the grid.  I couldn’t attack through the corners as I would have liked.  I love driving here.  This place is a lot of fun.  We got our money’s worth today with three rounds of qualifying.  I believe we’ll have a car to put the Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop machine in the winner’s circle.”

MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 @FollowAndretti):“It was a difficult day for us today.  We thought we had improved the car from the morning practice session.  But we couldn’t get the pace we needed to transfer out of the first round of qualifying.  I was able to jump up the charts to third several times in that round.  But we had a problem in the last couple of laps.  We were just a tenth out of transferring to the second round.  You just can’t afford to miss a beat with the competition level in the IZOD IndyCar Series.  We’ll work on making a good race car for Sunday’s event.  We did that at Edmonton in the last race.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Dollar General Sarah Fisher Racing): “It’s been a really disappointing day. This is not how we felt it was going to go, especially after testing here. We closed the gap a little bit during this morning’s practice session, but now after qualifying we’re further behind than we’ve been all weekend. This is definitely not the direction we want to be going. We’re going to have to figure out a way to do better tomorrow.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus): “I am extremely disappointed.  Although I didn’t get to run yesterday, the test session this morning went well and I was reasonably happy with the balance, but we knew we needed more speed for qualifying.   It was a tough qualifying session.  The car was sliding a lot and inconsistent.  We are going to have to work hard, review all the data and hopefully find some more speed for tomorrow.”       

E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus): “Today’s qualifying did not reflect the rhythm or the momentum we had in the practice sessions.  I believe we still have some work to do with the red tires on road courses.   We have been trying to address the red tire situation and every time we are getting closer to the solution.  However, there is still a little bit missing that we need to figure out in order to be up there in qualifying.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus_: “The car was extremely difficult to drive during the qualifying session.  It was handling a lot different than in our last practice session.   It’s a shame…coming from the back tomorrow will not be easy, but we’ll do our best to put the GEICO – KVRT – Lotus up front and try to maintain our championship position.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): It definitely stings to be so close (to advancing to the second round) and I think because the Firestone Indy Lights cars aren’t here that every time we go out we have to pretty much clean up the rubber, so the times drop down really quickly on the last couple laps of the session. I think we had the car to advance, but I definitely didn’t maximize a few corners, and around a place like this less than a tenth would have gotten us into the Top 12, and so that’s what’s personally frustrating. The National Guard Panther guys have done an awesome job all weekend to keep us in the window, and starting 13th and on the inside isn’t going to be all bad, and we’ve done a good job this year of making up a lot of positions on these types of tracks. So tomorrow we’ve just got to keep our nose clean and keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen): “I’m really happy for the whole Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team. The No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car has been fast all day and all weekend. It was nice to be able to go out and get the lap time in qualifying and end up in the top-10. It was still a little disappointing because a couple of tenths could have put us seventh  and we had a lap going and there was some dirt on the track so we lost the time. I know that the car is good and if we can hold a spot in the top-10 during the race we’ll be in good shape.”

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