Helio Castroneves clinched the penultimate Verizon P1 Award of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season in qualifying for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Saturday.
Castroneves recorded a two-lap average speed of 220.530mph to head up a Penske one-two-three at the top of the timesheets, leading home Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.
Power had set the early pace whose average speed of 220.398 remained the benchmark for the first half of the session despite him being just the second driver to take to the circuit.
Pagenaud turned in a two-lap average of 220.485 to edge out Power by less than 0.1mph and give himself provisional pole ahead of practice pace-setter’s Charlie Kimball’s run.
After posting the quickest warm-up time, Kimball’s qualifying run came to a surprise end when the Ganassi driver slammed hard into the wall at turn three and caught some air, hitting the fence in the process.
Thankfully, Kimball was quick to give a thumbs up and let everyone know he was okay upon coming to rest. However, the same could not be said of his car or the catch fencing, with repairs for the latter resulting in a 45-minute delay, during which time Kimball was cleared from the medical centre with only a small cut to his chin.
Once the session resumed, the task of toppling Pagenaud for pole fell to the Frenchman’s teammate, Castroneves, who managed to go 0.045mph quicker over his two laps to secure his fourth Verizon P1 Award of the 2015 season.
“We’re solid,” a jubilant Castroneves said. “I can’t wait for the race.”
A poor first lap cost championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya dearly as he could only qualify 19th, failing to replicate the form of his Penske teammates.
“We won at Pocono last year and we should run pretty good going to the next races, as well,” Montoya said. “I think we’re in good shape. You can’t really know what’s going to happen.
“We’ve done a really good job all year, like everybody else, had ups and downs, and we’ll see what it brings.”
To make matters worse for the Colombian, chief title rival Graham Rahal finished fifth, handing the American driver the upper hand heading into tomorrow’s race. Scott Dixon could only qualify 11th, spreading the three main title protagonists throughout the field.
Josef Newgarden continued his impressive form in 2015 to finish as the leading non-Penske driver in fourth place ahead of Rahal and Andretti’s Carlos Munoz, who was followed by teammates Justin Wilson and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Takuma Sato and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top ten.
Beyond Kimball, the other driver who did not take time was Stefano Coletti, who had crashed in the morning practice session.
The ABC Supply 500 from Pocono Raceway is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2pm ET on Sunday.
LONG POND, Pa. – Qualifying Saturday for the ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, and speed:
1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 220.530
2. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 220.485
3. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 220.398
4. (67) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 220.141
5. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 220.118
6. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 219.831
7. (25) Justin Wilson, Honda, 219.685
8. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 219.672
9. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 219.578
10. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 219.521
11. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 218.969
12. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 218.816
13. (19) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 218.596
14. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 218.331
15. (7) James Jakes, Honda, 218.246
16. (98) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 218.152
17. (18) Pippa Mann, Honda, 217.372
18. (5) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 217.241
19. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 217.194
20. (8) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 216.401
21. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 216.315
22. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 215.101
23. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, no speed
24. (4) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, no speed