100th Indianapolis 500 team preview: Team Penske

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MotorSportsTalk looks through the Verizon IndyCar Series grid ahead of the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. First up, Team Penske.

There is no greater race, no more important race for Team Penske than the Indianapolis 500. And as the team celebrates its 50th anniversary season with the 100th ‘500 a centerpiece of the campaign, nothing less than the team’s 17th Indianapolis victory will suffice.

ENTRIES 

Juan Pablo Montoya-W, No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves-W, No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet 

2016 SEASON SO FAR

Heading into May, the team has three wins from four races – thus matching its entire 2015 win total – and Simon Pagenaud is riding the wave of his IndyCar career to this point with back-to-back wins and a 48-point lead in the championship. He’ll be leading the points into the ‘500 regardless of what happens in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, even if he scores minimum points.

Elsewhere Juan Pablo Montoya has been nearly as good with the St. Petersburg win, while Helio Castroneves has been good if not great to this point and Will Power doing a fair job of playing catch up after missing the season opener. 

INDY OUTLOOK

It’s hard to bet against any of the four drivers, particularly now that Pagenaud has a wave of momentum entering the event. And keeping in mind Pagenaud probably had the strongest car of the four last year, he’ll be buoyed by his performance.

Castroneves ticks the highest national story line boxes if he were to finally win his fourth – he’s not gone more than seven years in-between Indy wins (2001, 2002, 2009) – while Montoya looks to further etch his place in history, and Power looks to beat Pagenaud to his first Indy triumph.

RECENT RESULTS 

  • 2015: 1. 2-Montoya (15), 2. 1-Power (2), 7. 3-Castroneves (5), 10. 22-Pagenaud (3)
  • 2014: 2. 3-Castroneves (4), 5. 2-Montoya (10), 8. 12-Power (3)
  • 2013: 6. 3-Castroneves (8), 7. 2-Allmendinger (5), 19. 12-Power (6)
  • 2012: 5. 2-Briscoe (1), 10. 3-Castroneves (6), 28. 12-Power (5)

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

Petit Le Mans lineup
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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