Back to Racing News & Views
Author: Mark W. Theisen
Photo by Brady Whitesel. Copyright 2015 Bronco's Pistop
Photo by Brady Whitesel. Copyright 2015 Bronco's Pistop
May 8th 2015 -      INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA May 8, 2015:    Will Power led a Chevrolet sweep of the top ten qualifying positions for tomorrow’s second running of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the 2.439 mile road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this afternoon that saw the continuation of the struggles of the Honda powered cars on the road and street courses that encompass the Verizon IndyCar series.
     In a qualifying format that features two elimination rounds culminating with the Firestone Fast Six, it was clear that either Power or Scott Dixon would come out on top as each paced their particular opening session, but when Power posted a speed of 126.357 to open round three he just pulled into the pits and watched the others try in vain to top his mark which eclipsed Sebastian Saavedra’s 126.062 set last year for the inaugural Angie’s List Grand Prix.
    Powerful Team Penske put all four of its drivers in the top five separated only by Target Chip Ganassi driver Dixon, who was second at 125.946 which was nearly two miles an hour faster than his top lap in yesterday’s opening practice sessions but still short of Power’s near perfect lap on the smooth 14-turn road course built in the infield and utilizing the front straightaway of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
     Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and last year’s Angie’s List Grand Prix winner, Simon Pagenaud, all of Team Penske, were right behind Dixon while Tony Kanaan of Ganassi rounded out the top six in the penultimate qualifying session.  
     Sebastien Bourdais, Saavedra, Luca Filippi and Stefano Coletti filled out the top ten with Jack Hawksworth of A.J. Foyt Racing being the fastest Honda, taking 11th with a speed of 124.623.  Ironically Honda Powered cars took the bottom 10 spots in qualifying yet the speed differences among the top 20 cars were less than 3 seconds but the Chevrolets and their less obtrusive aero kit seem to work much better on the road and street courses thus far this season.
     Power picked up his 38 Verizon IndyCar Series pole this afternoon, his first at Indianapolis and 12th on a closed road course venue.  It was his second of 2015, the first coming at the season opening event in St. Petersburg, Florida.  So impressive has Team Penske been in qualifying for IndyCar that today’s pole was their 8th consecutive in the series dating back to last August at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin.  The pole was the teams 227th in its Indy car history dating back to 1968.
     “It’s the best way possible to start the month of May,” said Power, who is in search of his first career victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  “To have a pole at Indianapolis is such a great feeling.  I feel like we’ve been strong all weekend.  I just missed out on the pole at Barber because of the weather, so I was pretty determined today.  Our guys do a great job with the car, day in and day out, so I’m happy that we have our Verizon sponsored car on the pole.”
     “I’m happy with the front-row start here,” said Dixon.  “We’ve had a really fast car here this weekend and we just missed out on winning the pole.  I think the race will be fast and furious here on the road course tomorrow afternoon.  I’m not sure about the weather holding up, but at the end of the day today we’re on the front row and hopefully any trouble will happen behind us back in the pack if it is wet.  We’ve had a good run of late on the road and street courses and I hope that continues here tomorrow for the team.”
     “We’re all just really close, “said third place qualifying Castroneves.  “Our team is incredible so far this year and if I can’t win the pole, I’m just glad one of our team did.  It will be an exciting race tomorrow.”
     Honda standard bearer, Hawksworth said, “It was a solid qualifying run.  We ran pretty clean.  The car was pretty good, especially in the first round when we were able to advance to round two.  Then in the second round it’s didn’t feel as good for whatever reason but we will have a look through stuff tonight.  We just have to keep on getting better and hopefully we can and tomorrow will be a good day for us.”
     Rain is forecast for tomorrow, 30 per cent chance as of this writing, so teams will have to be ready to hand that element, should it occur.  Verizon IndyCar series rules provide for racing on rain tires so the event will go on with strategy being key should rain tires be used.
     Pole sitter Weiron Tan led every lap to claim victory yesterday afternoon in the first of three Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires races this weekend.  Tan won by 0.5689 of a second over Timothe Buret with Neil Alberico finishing third.  Pro Mazda expanded its schedule to three races at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis this year when one of is scheduled doubleheader events at the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana was postponed by rain.
     Buret led all 20 laps to win the second race for Pro Mazda this afternoon finishing 0.7982 seconds ahead of Florian Latorre with Santiago Urrutia finishing third.  Tan, yesterday’s winner, finished fourth.
     In the Mazda USF2000 GP of Indianapolis race this afternoon, Nico Jamin took the lead on a restart with 4 laps to go to win the event over Jake Eidson and Aaron Telitz.
     Friday’s racing concluded with the running of the Mazda Grand Prix of Indianapolis for the Indy Light Series and it was Jack Harvey driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports winning by 4.7377 second over Sean Rayhall of 8Star Motorsports with Ed Jones from Dubai, United Emirates taking third.  With four entries in the series this year Schmidt Peterson continued its domination of Indy Light Races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with their other drivers finishing 5, 6th and 10th in the race.
     Fans in attendance at the Speedway today were treated to the unveiling of Townsend Bell’s entry for this year’s Indianapolis 500.  The car carries the number 24 and designated as the Robert Graham Special Chevrolet.  Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing were present for the preview and had a sprint car built by Floyd “Pop” Dreyer alongside for the presentation.  Dreyer is the grandfather of team principal Dennis Reinbold and said the celebration today was a special occasion for him.  The car’s paint job fits with the luxury clothing brand, Robert Graham, based in New York and the car’s interior pays tribute to NASCA Champion Jeff Gordon with a photo montage of Gordon’s five Brickyard 400 victories on the IMS oval.  Gordon was named, recently to drive the pace car for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.