Castroneves secures pole in IndyCar qualifying at Long Beach

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – A Team Penske driver is on pole for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), but it’s not necessarily the driver you’d first think of.

Helio Castroneves makes it three different Penske drivers on pole in as many races, after Will Power (St. Petersburg) and Juan Pablo Montoya (NOLA) were the first two Verizon P1 Award winners of the season.

Castroneves, with a fast lap of 1:06.6294 in the Firestone Fast Six session in the No. 3 AAA Team Penske Chevrolet, has also set a new track record – eclipsing Sebastien Bourdais’s 1:06.886 from 2006.

“I tell you what, the AAA machine was on rails,” Castroneves told NBCSN’s Marty Snider. “Being pole position with the teammates I have, it’s like a victory. Fantastic guys. It’s paying off. One day it’ll be my day, one day another one. From the beginning of the weekend until now, we’re chipping away.”

This is the 42nd career pole position of Castroneves’ career, the fourth most in IndyCar history. Bobby Unser sits third on the all-time list with 49 career poles. The only other time Castroneves sat on pole here was 2001, when he drove to victory for the only time in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Castroneves’ teammate and 1999 Long Beach winner Juan Pablo Montoya was second at 1:06.6587.

Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden completed the Fast Six.

For Hunter-Reay, he upheld Honda’s honor as its only representative in the Fast Six; Newgarden was the only driver outside the Penske, Ganassi and Andretti teams in delivering CFH Racing’s first Fast Six appearance this season.

Tony Kanaan rolls off seventh, ahead of Graham Rahal with his best start of the year in eighth. Sebastien Bourdais and Marco Andretti completed the top 10.

Sebastian Saavedra impressed in his opening qualifying appearance with Chip Ganassi Racing in P11, just ahead of the third Andretti Autosport entry of Carlos Munoz.

The biggest absence from both the Fast Six and Q2 was defending series champion Will Power, who was caught out on timing during his group session in Q1.

Stefano Coletti crashed exiting Turn 4 in his No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, which brought the session to a conclusion without several cars – Power’s included – unable to set a representative time.

Power will start 18th, but was diplomatic in his post-qualifying comments to IndyCar Radio.

“I turned the engine down and coasted,” Power said. “It’s gonna be tough. You know how these IndyCar races go. We gotta be positive and hopefully the yellow falls our way.”

If it helps, Power won from 12th here three years ago.

Elsewhere NOLA winner James Hinchcliffe will start 13th, Luca Filippi 14th in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet that was the winning car last year, and Conor Daly 21st in his first IndyCar start in nearly two full years. Daly was brought in as a last-minute injury substitute for Rocky Moran Jr.

Here’s a screen capture of the grid:

Qualifying results are below:

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Qualifying Saturday for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Verizon IndyCar Series event at the 1.968 mile(s) Streets of Long Beach, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1.  (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:06.6294 (106.331)
2.  (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 01:06.6587 (106.285)
3.  (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 01:06.7870 (106.081)
4.  (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:07.0473 (105.669)
5.  (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:07.1433 (105.518)
6.  (67) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:07.1716 (105.473)
7.  (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 01:07.1090 (105.572)
8.  (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:07.1290 (105.540)
9.  (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 01:07.2411 (105.364)
10.  (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:07.3161 (105.247)
11.  (8) Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet, 01:07.3924 (105.128)
12.  (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 01:07.4049 (105.108)
13.  (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:07.3976 (105.119)
14.  (20) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 01:08.6104 (103.261)
15.  (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 01:07.4217 (105.082)
16.  (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 01:08.6276 (103.235)
17.  (98) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 01:07.4653 (105.014)
18.  (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:08.8348 (102.925)
19.  (7) James Jakes, Honda, 01:07.7702 (104.542)
20.  (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:08.8732 (102.867)
21.  (18) Conor Daly, Honda, 01:08.7825 (103.003)
22.  (19) Francesco Dracone, Honda, 01:09.8815 (101.383)
23.  (4) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 01:10.4644 (100.544)

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III