PR - Chevrolet Will Power Puts Chevrolet on Pole at St. Petersburg

Will Power Puts Chevrolet on Pole at St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – (March 11, 2017)  Will Power likes to start on the pole.  For the second consecutive year, the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevroletgrabbed the Verizon P1 award in Firestone Fast Six qualifying on the Streets of St. Petersburg.

"It is great to start the IndyCar season with a Chevrolet on the pole position,” said Mark Kent, Director of Motorsports Competition. “This pole win required a total team effort by Will Power and the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet team.  Now the focus for the Chevrolet IndyCar teams turns to tomorrow's race.  It should be a ve ry exciting and competitive season opener."

Today’s pole is the seventh for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and his 45th career and the fifth for Chevrolet at the season-opening race.

Power was fastest in his group in round 1 and fifth quick in round two before grabbing the top spot in the final round, Power wheeled his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet around the 1.8-mile street circuit in 1:01.0640 for an average speed of 106.118 mph to earn his first pole of the year.

Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, qualified fourth. Carlos Munoz, No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Chevrolet will roll off in 11th position.  Spencer Pigot, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet starts 13th. 

Defending INDYCAR Series Champion Simon Pagenaud qualified the No. 1 PPG Automotive Finish Team Penske Chevrolet in the 14th position. Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet will start 16th in Sunday’s race. JR Hildebrand rolls off 19th in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet and Conor Daly, No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet will start in 20th spot.

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be telecast live on ABC on Sunday at 12 p.m ET with radio coverage on INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212 and XM 209. Additional coverage can be found at IndyCar.com.

DRIVER QUOTES:

WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, POLE WINNER:

"I think that went very well. I saved a good set of tires for the end there.  They had one lap on them.  Really happy for the guys at Verizon and the whole team. It's good to be starting on pole. 

"That was everything I had at the end.  I gave it all I had because I knew it was going to be close. I haven't put that much energy into a lap for awhile.  I'm really happy.

"We will do our best tomorrow in every condition."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 4TH: “Hopefully the odds favor us this weekend again. But I have been told numerous times that this car has been victorious twice in the last two years here. So no pressure, right? Hopefully go get it done. But I think we have a good start. Fourth place, like you said, it's the best that I've started around St. Pete here, so I think our guys did a great job.

“I feel like I didn't maximize that final Fast Six as much as I could have, but I also don't think I would have gotten Will. I think Will put a really good lap together. He did an awesome job. We've had good cars. I think our race cars off the truck have actually been pretty good, and we haven't had to do much. We've been able to stay inside of our window for the most part this weekend.

“I'm excited. You know, the next thing for us now and certainly for me is to learn the race car, how it's going to perform over a tire stint. We haven't done much of that, at least I haven't, with the team here at Team Penske, so I'm excited to figure out that portion. As you said, they've had luck with this car in the past, so hopefully it's going to be a strong race car, and I think we can do a good job with the Verizon 2 car this weekend, and hopefully we can seal it up for tomorrow.”

CARLOS MUNOZ, NO. 14 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 11TH: ““We were better in qualifying than practice. I think in round 2 we could have been better but between the runs, we tried some things that didn’t work like we expected. Our goal was to be in the top 10 but we missed by one spot. It’s still a good position to start here. We have to work to make the car more consistent throughout the race. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

SPENCER PIGOT, NO. 20 FUZZY’S VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 13TH: ““It was still a little disappointing not to advance to the next round of qualifying. It was so close, a couple hundredths of a second would have put us through.  We made some good gains from practice so that’s important. Thanks to the Fuzzy’s Vodka guys for working hard and giving me a good car. We’re good on longer runs, so tomorrow we’re going to give it a shot!”

SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 1 PPG AUTOMOTIVE FINISHES TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 14TH: “Well, we’re certainly disappointed, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to pack up and go home. The PPG Chevrolet team and I will go to work and figure out how we can improve. They are the best in the business. We have our work cut out for us, but once the race starts, all sorts of things can happen.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 16TH: “We didn’t miss by much, but that’s how close it is in this series. Fortunately, I

have the Hitachi Chevy guys behind me and I have all the confidence in the world that they can give me a car to go to the front. You just want to get to the next round. Anything can happen. We came up a little short, but I think we have a great race car.”

JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 21 FUZZY’S VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 19TH: “Tomorrow’s going to be tough, just because there’s not a lot of strategy options. It’s a pretty straightforward situation. For us, we need to be confident that we can make some moves on our own and be good at picking our way through. Outside of that, we have to be smart when things do happen. If there are issues in front of us, we need to be able to take advantage of those when they happen. Obviously not where we want to be to kick things off here, but it leaves room for improvement certainly. We’ll continue to plug away at it, we’ve got a whole season to get to the point where we are consistently competitive but we want to get there as quick as we can. We know there are some things we can work on.”

 

CONOR DALY, NO. 4 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 20TH: “It was a bit strange with the way the red flag came out. I think we started to push a little bit too early on our only set of reds. We’re really struggling to stop the car. These new brakes are  treating me very unkindly. Stopping the car has always been a strength of mine, the brake zones are where I can brake deep and now I can’t brake deep enough. For some reason the car won’t stop and we’ve got to get that fixed so we can actually compete.”

FIRESTONE FAST SIX PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:

Will Power

Josef Newgarden

Fast Six Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: A career best start for Josef Newgarden here on the streets of St. Pete. Previous best was 10th, will be starting fourth in tomorrow's race. I don't know if you know this, but the driver that has qualified fourth the past four years has won the race here in St. Petersburg.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I've been told.

THE MODERATOR: Are you taking it to Vegas?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't know. Hopefully the odds favor us this weekend again. But I have been told numerous times that this car has been victorious twice in the last two years here. So no pressure, right? Hopefully go get it done. But I think we have a good start. Fourth place, like you said, it's the best that I've started around St. Pete here, so I think our guys did a great job.

I feel like I didn't maximize that final Fast Six as much as I could have, but I also don't think I would have gotten Will. I think Will put a really good lap together. He did an awesome job. We've had good cars. I think our race cars off the truck have actually been pretty good, and we haven't had to do much. We've been able to stay inside of our window for the most part this weekend.

I'm excited. You know, the next thing for us now and certainly for me is to learn the race car, how it's going to perform over a tire stint. We haven't done much of that, at least I haven't, with the team here at Team Penske, so I'm excited to figure out that portion. As you said, they've had luck with this car in the past, so hopefully it's going to be a strong race car, and I think we can do a good job with the Verizon 2 car this weekend, and hopefully we can seal it up for tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Joined now by our pole winner Will Power. This is Will Power's 45th career pole, which moves him to fifth all time on the all-time leader list. His seventh pole here at St. Petersburg, and that is seven of the top eight. With those numbers in mind, what does it take to qualify on top so many times here on the street of St. Petersburg?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it takes obviously a very good team and kind of getting through that first round there, taking the risk on just doing one lap was good for me, definitely had a bit more meat on the tires in the last round there. So yeah, and I mean, worked on the car, too. Made a bit of a wrong setup change there for the last round and kind of just made it and went back and did something else. So yeah, very happy to be on pole. It's really tight competition.

Q. Josef, how nice is it to just be on the eve of actually, I'm going to make my first start for Team Penske as opposed to having to talk about moving to Team Penske?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, it's been a long five months or whatever it's been in the off-season. I think if you -- I don't know what anyone else would say, but certainly for me, when you change teams, you don't really want an off-season. You'd like to get going pretty quickly. We've had a lot of time to talk about everything under the moon, so I'm excited that we're finally here. We're now through our first qualifying session, and we'll get through our first race tomorrow. It's been exciting. I mean, I've had a great time. It's been a blast working with Will and the other guys, and everyone on Team Penske. We have a great, great unit, great group. Will talked about it a little bit. It takes a great team, and I can see why they've been such a strong team. They've got great chemistry, and it's really a privilege to be able to work with everyone on the team, the engineers, the drivers. I'm excited, man. Let's get through round 1 and then let's get rolling through the rest of this calendar year.

Q. Will, when you whitewalled it in session 2, how big a whack was that, and were you concerned that it was going to maybe screw the car up for the Fast Six?
WILL POWER: No, it was -- you know, the shock fin sticks out actually further than the wheel, so it wasn't I didn't think any problem. Just making sure the lap before I didn't get that exit. That's what ruined my lap, so I had to do a third lap, so I just stayed in it and kind of brushed the wall. It just got the tires, didn't get the rims.

Q. Was there enough time to get a feel for how much the new surface was degrading the red tires? And was that key to your actually having that amount of life left in the reds?
WILL POWER: Oh, yeah. I mean, it was -- the first session, I kind of realized on the out lap, like oh, the tires are actually in a lot quicker than the day before. You know, I thought, I can probably do this on the first lap, and I went for it, and then I just pitted. It was a total guess. I just pitted after one lap because I thought, yeah, it felt like that was pretty hooked up, and it was good enough. We banked that one-lap set then, and that definitely makes it easier in the Fast Six.

Q. Josef, did this meet your expectations going into qualifying, or were you expecting to get in the top six? Or were you thinking maybe eighth, tenth would be good but Fast Six would be even better?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: You know, I think for us, yeah, we felt it was feasible. I mean, I think we've -- I think us on Team Penske, we felt very good about our race cars. Will and me are pretty happy and the other guys were happy, too. We thought it was definitely possible for the Fast Six. I think the pole was maybe more questionable this time around. You know, we weren't sure that we'd have enough for a pole. But Will did an awesome job. I mean, I know what race car he's got underneath him, and he maximized the most of it. I definitely think Fast Six was our target, and if we could have gotten the pole with one of our guys, then that would have been icing on the cake, and Will got that done for us. We feel pretty good about that portion, now we've just got to make sure we have good race cars for tomorrow.

Dave Chess

Dave Chess has been writing for RIS since the late 1980s during the CompuServe days. His work has also appeared in Auto Week magazine, Chicago Gearhead News newspaper, ATA airlines in-flight magazine, National Speed Sport News and on many websites.

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Volume 2016, Issue 8, Posted 9:39 PM, 03.11.2017