Sebastien Bourdais earned his second Verizon P1 Award of the season after posting the quickest lap of the Firestone Fast Six shootout on his final lap, which secured the pole position for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
It was the 33rd career pole for the four-time Indy car champion to tie Dario Franchitti for seventh all time. Bourdais’ 32nd pole came two weeks ago in Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto, a race he won for his 32nd career victory and first since 2007.
Bourdais’ final lap of 1 minute, 24.1610 seconds in the No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing car overtook Josef Newgarden (1:24.6787) in the No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car.
“The last lap I knew I was shy and needed some more, so I just went for it and made it stick and that Mistic machine gave me everything it had,” said Bourdais, who has two top-five finishes in four Indy car races at Mid-Ohio. “Things are finally starting to align for us; sometimes it’s the difference between things going your way or not going your way.”
Newgarden matched his season-best qualifying effort at Texas and secured his career best start on a road/street course.
“This year I thought we had a much better package in general,” Newgarden said. “I thought we were pretty good in Practice 3, but it was so tight I was kind of happy that it rained because it spread everyone out. I thought we had a good car, it was just about managing traffic. We were down in the pit lane so we had a lot of traffic every time. Fortunately we were able to pull out a good lap. The car was great. I thought we had a really good car. Just trying to get the most out of each lap was the key. You couldn’t have any mistakes was the biggest deal.”
Competitors in all three rounds used Firestone rain tires as a thunderstorm that passed through Central Ohio an hour before the mid-afternoon session left a rain-soaked racing surface. The track was drying entering the final segment, but not enough to attempt using Firestone slicks.
“It was totally different (in the Firestone Fast Six) from the first two segments, there was a developing dry line,” Bourdais said. “So we went from totally outside to having to venture in not really well-known territory with wet tires, which was difficult.”
All 22 competitors will have three sets of Firestone alternate tires available for the 90-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. The alternates, identified by the red sidewalls, feature a softer compound that yields faster lap times but trades some durability from the primary specification.
Tony Kanaan, who has three consecutive podium finishes, will join Carlos Munoz in Row 2. It’s the best start on a road/street course for the Verizon IndyCar Series rookie. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who posted the quickest lap time through three practice sessions, and Will Power will be in Row 3.
Power enters the 15th race 13 points behind Team Penske teammate and Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Helio Castroneves, who qualified a season-low 15th. Hunter-Reay, the 2013 pole sitter at Mid-Ohio, is 69 points back in third.
“Unfortunately, the qualifying session was a bit crazy,” Castroneves said. “Not only was it wet there were so many yellows that we only got one timed lap in. At the end of the day it was the same for everyone. We were the first car out and tried some different lines. Sometimes that is not the best place to be. It gives the other guys some direction on where to run. It is what it is, though. We’ll just have to keep working and hope the race tomorrow is better than qualifying.”
Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio, missed the Firestone Fast Six by .0117 of a second, but his seventh-place qualifying spot is the second-best (fourth at Houston 2) of the season in the No. 15 National Guard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car.
Scott Dixon, who has won four of the past seven races at Mid-Ohio, qualified 22nd as his two fastest laps in Round 1 were disallowed for bringing out a red flag with a spin off course.