CLUB SPEEDWAY IN FONTANA, CA
September 15, 2012 on NBC Sports
500: Title contenders to start mid-pack, further back
Calif. -- One by one IZOD IndyCar Series drivers
put separation between championship front-runner Will
Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay during qualifications for the
MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships at Auto Club Speedway.
a nutshell, Hunter-Reay, whose No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop
Citrus Soda car was the second of 25 qualifiers on the
scorching (141 degrees track temp) 2-mile oval, will have
his work cut out for him in the 250-lap race Sept. 15
to claim the series title.
qualified 17th with a two-lap average of 212.773 mph and
also will incur a grid penalty for adding a fresh Chevrolet
engine (the entrant's sixth; in violation of IZOD IndyCar
Series rules) that will slide him to the 22nd starting
Power, who leads by 17 points, qualified third in the
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car with an average speed of
215.940. He will, however, also receive a grid penalty
for changing to a fresh Chevrolet engine (the entrant's
sixth) and will start 13th.
a great qualifying run for us but it's a 500-mile race
so really not that bummed about it," said Hunter-Reay,
who has two short-oval victories this season but recorded
his lowest qualifying position on an oval in this round.
"We just hadn't dialed our qualifying trim in with
the DHL/Sun Drop car and that caught us out a bit. We
missed the balance and (the car) took off on me a bit
there at the exit. It was definitely hard to put a good
two laps together.
"We've been focusing on the race though. That's the
by teammates James Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay this season,
Marco Andretti put a stamp on his year with his first
pole start in 76 races. His last and previously only earned
pole was at the Milwaukee Mile in 2008.
means a lot with what we have been going through this
year," said Andretti, who has one top-five finish
through the first 14 races in the No. 26 Team RC Cola
car. "It's just been a very trying year for me and
my career. It's good for the confidence. But credit to
the whole RC team and the whole Andretti Autosport team
is just taking a huge step up this year."
who followed Hunter-Reay in the qualifying order, had
a two-lap average of 216.069 mph. He is not among the
14 drivers facing 10 spot grid penalties for unapproved
whose qualifying effort of 215.940 mph was a season best
on an oval, will have the benefit of having teammate Ryan
Briscoe (216.058 mph -- 0.0032 of a second behind Andretti
over the two laps) starting on the front row. Briscoe,
who also does not face a grid penalty, qualified for the
front row for the fifth time this season.
one of those races where you can be a half-lap down and
come back to win the race," said Power, to which
Hunter-Reay replied, "I agree; Will should start
a half-lap back."
are a myriad of scenarios in this championship duel --
the seventh consecutive year that the title will be decided
in the season finale. For Power, the quickest path to
his first series title is finish ahead of Hunter-Reay.
a 500-mile race. We are focused on the things we can control,"
he said. "We are going to do what we can and see
how it ends up. Just hang in there, just stay there and
hopefully have a shot."
Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing qualified
a oval season-high fourth and Scott Dixon of Target Chip
Ganassi Racing qualified fifth. Alex Tagliani qualified
sixth. All three will incur grid penalties.
into this race, we talked a lot about how I don’t
want a car that’s going to sit on pole," said
Newgarden, who is the subject of the next episode of "INDYCAR
36" being taped this weekend. "I want a car
that’s going to be comfortable, reliable and consistent
for the entire race. That’s what we’re working
on. We want to have a good race car that can run a ton
of laps. If we have that, then we can run up front and
compete up front."
beneficiaries of the grid penalties are Tony Kanaan, JR
Hildebrand and Ed Carpenter, who will start third, fourth
and fifth, respectively. Carpenter qualified ninth in
the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car -- a season
high for the freshman IZOD IndyCar Series team he owns.
Wilson, whose No. 18 Sonny's BBQ car made contact with
the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier in the morning practice, did
not make a qualifying attempt. He was uninjured. He returned
for the final practice session.
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