Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe have secured an Andretti Autosport front row for Sunday’s IndyCar Series race on the streets of Long Beach.
In what was a surprising qualifying given the number of more-fancied runners who failed to deliver, the final ‘Fast Six’ shootout for pole was an all-Honda affair. Sébastien Bourdais had provisionally held pole position until the final minute, when Hinchliffe and then Hunter-Reay manage to squeeze out a fractionally quicker lap time.
Josef Newgarden – who started on the front row at the same race in 2012 – was fourth-quickest in his SFHR Honda, while the impressive rookie Jack Hawksworth was a sensational fifth-fastest on the grid, ahead of Simon Pagenaud.
Hawksworth’s stellar qualifying performance in the second phase of the Saturday track action proved enough to bump defending champion Scott Dixon out of a ‘Fast Six’ berth. The New Zealander wasn’t alone in joining a long list of highly-rated runners who failed to make it out of an intense second-round session. Hélio Castroneves, Marco Andretti and Justin Wilson were also among those to find themselves out of contention for pole position.
Perhaps more surprising was the list of runners who failed to beyond their respective group sessions. Will Power had just the second ever Q1 knock-out in his illustrious career in what was a poor day for Team Penske – teammate Juan Pablo Montoya will start two spots behind after scraping the Turn 4 wall – while former Long Beach winner Mike Conway was also eliminated.
The Chip Ganassi stable had a dreadful showing, with three of its four drivers – Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe – all failing to put a decent enough lap together in their respective heat sessions.
Defending Long Beach winner Takuma Sato was another casualty, and his misfortune was further compounded when he was stripped of his two fastest times for impeding Hunter-Reay in their group qualifying run.
For the second race on the trot, Graham Rahal will start from the back row of the grid, having seemingly found no cure for the appalling qualifying form that dogged him for much of the 2013 season. Adding insult to injury was the performance of his teammate Oriol Servià, who qualified twelfth-quickest in his part-time campaign with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan stable. It’s hardly the sort of exposure new sponsor National Guard would have been looking for.
2014 IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach – Qualifying:
|‘Fast Six’ Session||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:07.8219|
|2.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport Honda||+ 0.1184|
|3.||Sébastien Bourdais||KV Racing Technology Honda||+ 0.1361|
|4.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda||+ 0.1878|
|5.||Jack Hawksworth||Bryan Herta Autosport Honda||+ 0.2306|
|6.||Simon Pagenaud||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda||+ 0.2513|
|‘Round 2’ Session||Team / Entry||Time|
|7.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:07.9981|
|8.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:08.0179|
|9.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske Chevrolet||1:08.1119|
|10.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing Honda||1:08.1218|
|11.||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:08.1506|
|12.||Oriol Servià||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda||1:08.3532|
|Group Sessions||Team / Entry||Time|
|13.||Tony Kanaan||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:08.4424|
|14.||Will Power||Team Penske Chevrolet||1:08.1159|
|15.||Takuma Sato||A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda||1:08.5660|
|16.||Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske Chevrolet||1:08.3649|
|17.||Mike Conway||Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet||1:08.5702|
|18.||Ryan Briscoe||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:08.3699|
|19.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:08.6507|
|20.||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda||1:08.4321|
|21.||Carlos Huertas||Dale Coyne Racing Honda||1:08.7051|
|22.||Sebastián Saavedra||KV Racing Technology / AFS Racing Honda||1:08.9619|
|23.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda||1:09.0562|
Image via XPB Images