Castroneves claims fourth Verizon P1 Award of 2015 in ABC Supply 500 qualifying (VIDEO)


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

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds