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GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma: Drivers’ Post-Qualifying Notes & Quotes


• This is Dario Franchitti’s 33rd career Indy car pole and fourth pole of the season. He won the Verizon P1 Award at Long Beach, Belle Isle, Toronto and Sonoma this season.

• This is Franchitti’s third pole at Sonoma (2007, ’09, ’13)

• Scott Dixon qualified second. It is his second front-row start at Sonoma. He started from the pole in 2006.

• Will Power qualified third. He has never qualified outside of the top-three at Sonoma.

• Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified fourth. It is a career best start for Hunter-Reay at Sonoma.  His previous best was seventh (2007, ’12).

• Helio Castroneves qualified fifth. He has never qualified outside of the top-five at Sonoma.

• Charlie Kimball qualified sixth. It is a career best start for Charlie Kimball at Sonoma.  His previous best start was 21st in 2012.


DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): Obviously both Target cars have been fast all weekend, and in the test as well. We made a lot of changes, but seemed to go back where we started. Q1 we just did the one lap on the reds and it was the quickest time, so they pulled me in and we felt that there was a lot of good still left in the tires. So we put those on for the second run and the car was good again, and I managed to make a couple of mistakes, actually, so I was surprised to be as close to the guys on the new reds. We had the new reds on obviously for the Firestone Fast Six, which is just as well because I did a good job at the 10 and 11 corners and royally screwed up Turn 6 both laps, so luckily I had the advantage in the other corners to make it. So really happy, good to have 1-2 and all three of the Ganassi cars in the top six is pretty cool. It’s obviously been a tough week with Floyd passing away and then Andy Brown’s wife Kristie passing away too, so we’re very focused on bringing a good result for the team.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): “It was a pretty disappointing day for us. I think we had a pretty good pace leading up to it; then the wind shifted. It is the same for everybody; it just made for really difficult conditions and we didn’t capitalize on it. It was tough to get the lap times out of the cars – it was for everybody. But the Ganassi cars have been one step above. Dario (Franchitti) did what we did in Mid-Ohio and went out on used reds (tires) in the second session. I think that is where he won the pole. Congratulations to those guys. They’ve been super quick. We are a little disappointed to start fourth, but we can definitely work from there. Now we have to go re-engineer it, and make it a race car instead of a qualifying car.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVRT-SH Racing Chevrolet): “So far, it has been a frustrating weekend,” Kanaan said. “We’ve made a lot of changes to the car and it is definitely improved from this morning, but we are still chasing the setup. We have to keep working and hope that we can come up with a strategy that will help us gain some track position during the race.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda): “When we went out on the blacks in that first run, we thought we were pretty competitive. Then we went out on the reds and just couldn’t quite find the grip on the track. It’s frustrating because the Barracuda Racing guys have been working really hard and it’s actually been quite enjoyable to work with the team. It felt like we were closer in the window than we ended up being out there. I think we’re close to being in the mix in the entirety of the group, but that group just ended up having five of the top six or seven guys, so we’ll see what we can figure out for tomorrow.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “That (performance) stings a little bit.  We just didn’t have the pace today in qualifying.  We were quicker than some of the folks in the first qualifying group today.  But you get some breaks some times and you don’t other times.  We just happened to be in the fast group today. It’s disappointing because I thought we could close the gap on the leaders, time wise.  But we couldn’t do it  today.   I don’t know if I needed to try harder with this setup.  The wind does play a factor here but it is the same for everyone.  So you have to adjust to that element at this track.  We had a good race pace at Mid-Ohio and I hope we can have it here on Sunday.  Just wish we were further up the grid though.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet): “Disappointed. I had higher hopes for the RC (Cola) Chevy today. We were loose and just couldn’t get the lap together we needed. Not the starting position we had hoped for but we’ll fight tomorrow and make the best of it.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “It’s a disappointing qualifying run. We made some progress but not enough to advance to the next segment. We’ve been struggling but we’ve found some positives so hopefully we will improve again and have a better package tomorrow.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): “I’m happy because we made huge improvements this week to get the HP car in the 10th starting position. The really positive point is that we have a fantastic race car and it is incredibly consistent. We just have to find what the other guys have found in pure grip level. Apart from that the car was really nice to drive and the balance was great.”

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): “I’m pretty disappointed.  We had an ok car in practice, but then I think we tried to be a little bit too aggressive for qualifying and that kind of through us off a bit. We’re starting way back which is really annoying. We’re going to have to do a lot of work during the race tomorrow, but we’ll see.”

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “It’s been a good weekend so far.  We have been fifth and sixth in practice and qualified seventh.  We were hoping to break into the Firestone Fast Six, but that’s just the way it goes.  Everyone on the #19 Boy Scouts of America team has done a great job so far this weekend and we will keep pushing forwardtomorrow.  We have put ourselves into a good spot for good result in the race.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Honda): “We got a lot out of qualifying, I think the lap was solid. Unfortunately we had a few overboost’s and when that happens it basically gives you a penalty. I think we probably lost three or four tenths (of a second) and with that alone I think we could have advanced to the top-six. But eighth is a victory for us right now though. I’m pretty proud of the Big O Tires / Midas guys for pushing as hard as we have. This hasn’t been easy. (New race engineer) Neil (Fife) has done a great job. We found some stuff this weekend that I think is really going to help us on into the future. Honda is pushing hard and doing a great job to put all of our cars up front. I didn’t think it would benefit us in Round 2 to go run on (Firestone) blacks or used reds and fool ourselves and I just wanted to wait (to get on track) and it worked fine for us.”

JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): “It was strange, the conditions were awful at the start of qualifying but then we came in P2 (second fast). We just didn’t anticipate that much grip on the (Firestone) reds so we got caught out really after the one lap, it wasn’t enough. It’s a shame really.  I didn’t really think we would get in the top-six. To be honest we were really struggling with the balance a lot. Just putting the perfect lap together might have allowed us to creep into the top-10. We’ve just got a lot of work to do. We passed a lot of cars in the race last year so hopefully we will do the same tomorrow, just get some good points and move on to Baltimore.”

JAMES DAVISON (No. 18 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Honda): “We progressed from Mid-Ohio and came close to making the Firestone Fast 12.  I am pleased with our results today and think that the #18 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q team will give me a better car for the race tomorrow.  We were able to qualify ahead of some respectable drivers today. I am looking forward to another mistake free race and hopefully another top 15 finish.”

TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Angie’s List Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda):“I’m disappointed with starting 13th in tomorrow’s race but I also think we did a good job because the car felt really good to drive. We just couldn’t quite find enough to advance from our group. We were definitely in the tougher qualifying group though because our speed would have been more than good enough to advance out of the first group. We’re just missing a little grip, but overall we’ve improved the Angie’s List car so much since we got here. Tire degradation is going to play a huge part in the race tomorrow, so we’re going to be focusing on that tonight.”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): “We definitely lacked the speed, which is a shame, because we’ve been feeling really confident. But since yesterday afternoon into today we’ve lost the pace a little bit, so we need to look at where we need to turn it back around and make ourselves competitive again. It’s going to make for a long race tomorrow and I think we’re going to see a lot of tire degradation, so we’re going to have to try to make the strategy and the consistency work to our advantage, and try to move the National Guard Chevrolet forward from where it is we’re going to start.”

E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Chevrolet):  “I’m pretty disappointed with how qualifying went after yesterday… to be honest, I didn’t expect to be this slow. We just still haven’t been able to find the pace. Qualifying was very difficult; I didn’t have grip in the fast corners and quite a lot of understeer in other corners, and at the same time, braking was fairly difficult. Obviously, we didn’t have a good package to go out and qualify up front today.Tomorrow is going to be a long race but we have good expectations as always. However, we’re going to be spending a lot of hours trying to find some grip and speed.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet):  “All in all, we’re relatively pleased. Of course you always want to make it in the (Firestone) Fast Six, and we didn’t do that today. But, from where we were in practice, we made some improvements which is the name of the game here. With a top-10 qualifying, we can work with that in the race. Certainly with the other (Andretti Autosport) cars, we were all hoping to be a bit higher, I think, but this is about Sunday, and that’s what pays the points. If we can just keep making the kind of improvements that we did from yesterday to today, then hopefully we’ll be within a shout of getting the GoDaddy car on the podium tomorrow.”

LUCAS LUHR (No. 97 RW Motorsports/SFHR Honda): “Generally I have to say that I think we overall made improvements and got at least a little bit closer, but still not there. It’s difficult. It’s the first time for me qualifying and then experiencing the reds so you have no idea how much more grip there is and how much you can use and you really only get one shot at it. I think now that we have the practices and everything out of the way I just am looking forward to the race. I’m looking forward to getting into race mode.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “We started the day off a little off from where we wanted to be, but it really came together well in the second half of qualifying. It came together almost surprisingly to me. It caught us a little off guard of what we gained going into the second part of qualifying. I really just did not use the reds enough. Normally that’s not the case, and normally I feel pretty good about the run that I do but I feel like I just did not hang it out enough, and we actually had more to use. I don’t think we were a fast 6 car but I really think we could have transferred into the top 12 and had a better starting place for tomorrow. We really were not far off that benchmark. It gives me a lot of courage for tomorrow. I think we can really run a solid race and have great points. I’m really proud of everyone and looking forward to maximizing what we can tomorrow.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was interesting when the wind changed, as everyone said, so there was no difference for anyone. But the first group was really brutal because of the different tires and series running out there. I struggled just to pass the first group, but thank God for the Hitachi guys. They did a hell of a job just tweaking from the right point on the setup of the car, and we were able to position ourselves for Q2 and Q3. We just took another session as a test and it paid off as well. It didn’t pay off to hold off the Ganassi guys, but we’re right there in the area that we need to be. Let’s see what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The wind does totally change the track. Our car was quite tough to drive on blacks, but on reds it was reasonable. Pretty happy, I think those Ganassi guys definitely have a leg up on everyone here, but we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s been a decent week. I think the cars have had – generally all three of them – have had good speed. We didn’t get great laps together as far as ultimate times and having a good shot at pole. Dario obviously made a strong call to save a set of reds in Q2 and go through Q3 with a new set, so we were kind of setting our sights on trying to be second and that’s what turned out. Front row start for us, we really happy with that as it’s typically a Penske pretty strong track here, so it’s nice to get on the front row, but obviously tomorrow is where the points pay and looking forward to that.”

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Posted by on August 25, 2013. Filed under Breaking News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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