The front of the grid for tomorrow’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is going to look unfamiliar for longtime Verizon IndyCar Series fans.
That’s because not one representative of either Team Penske (Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and Juan Pablo Montoya) or Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe) was able to make the Firestone Fast Six in today’s qualifying session.
It marks the first time since the 2005 inception of the FF6 that both of those teams were not part of one.
Dixon was the sole Ganassi man that made the second round and was able to qualify seventh, while Tony Kanaan (13th) and Charlie Kimball (19th) failed to make it out of the first round.
“In the first round the Target car was good and we had good speed in the session I felt,” Dixon said. “We made a lot of progress from yesterday to today, and again from this morning’s practice through to qualifying.
“We have some work to do tomorrow from our starting position, but we will be prepared.”
The Penske camp also had just one guy – Castroneves – make the second round and he’ll start ninth tomorrow. IndyCar points leader Will Power, who won two weeks ago at St. Petersburg, and Juan Pablo Montoya will start 14th and 16th respectively.
However, Castroneves believes that he’ll have a car ready to work for him.
“It’s going to take some strategy to get to the front and I have the man for that in Roger Penske,” he said. “I’m counting on him tomorrow.
“I can’t wait for tomorrow. We obviously want to start in the front, but with the standing start, I feel like we can still be in good position.”
Ganassi and Penske’s fellow “Big Three” team, Andretti Autosport, swept the front row with pole sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe.
But the four other competitors in the FF6 represented four other teams – Sebastien Bourdais of KVSH Racing, Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, rookie Jack Hawksworth of Bryan Herta Autosport, and Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.