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Pagenaud powers to Detroit pole on primary tires

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DETROIT – Simon Pagenaud being on pole for a Verizon IndyCar Series race this year isn’t a surprise.

The fact the Frenchman did it on Firestone’s primary black sidewall tires, however, is.

Today the Frenchman and series points leader scored his third Verizon P1 Award of the year in the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team Penske Chevrolet (Barber, Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course).

Pagenaud’s best lap in the Firestone Fast Six session was a 1:14.9166 around the 2.35-mile Belle Isle Park street circuit in Detroit. While the rest of the runners took shots at him on Firestone’s softer red alternate tires, none was able to top Pagenaud’s time on a hot track. Temperatures were at 78 degrees ambient and 103 on track, per Firestone, after being a much cooler 74/79 respectively for the start of morning practice.

“It was very important to go with this strategy,” Pagenaud explained afterwards. “The reds have the tendency to degrade more here with the concrete. So we were very well balanced on the blacks. I could extract more of myself on the blacks, and it gave us a big advantage.”

Pagenaud and girlfriend Hailey McDermott after Pagenaud won Verizon P1 Award. Photo: IndyCar
Pagenaud and girlfriend Hailey McDermott after Pagenaud won Verizon P1 Award. Photo: IndyCar

An order of normalcy, in a sense, was restored with Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing Teams locking out four of the six Firestone Fast Six spots.

Helio Castroneves starts second in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, having set the track record in Q2 at 1:14.6899 but slower in the Fast Six. Then Juan Pablo Montoya was third in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to make it a Team Penske top three sweep.

The interlopers were James Hinchcliffe in fourth in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda and Carlos Munoz in the No. 26 Magneti Marelli Honda in fifth, the latter having made his first Firestone Fast Six since Mid-Ohio 2014. Scott Dixon completed the Fast Six in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Will Power, a usual Fast Six regular, slotted into ninth.

Meanwhile the bigger story out of the earlier sessions was a disagreement between Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Hunter-Reay told IndyCar Radio he’d been balked, earlier, by a slowing Sebastien Bourdais while Marco Andretti – who refused to talk on air – reportedly told IndyCar Radio’s Dave Furst that his teammate “effed” him.

Hunter-Reay starts 15th, Andretti 19th, with teammate Alexander Rossi following up his Indianapolis 500 win with 17th on the grid for the first of two races this weekend on Saturday.

Spencer Pigot starts 21st for his first race in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing.

Times are below:

DETROIT – Qualifying Friday for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit #1 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.35-mile(s) Raceway at Belle Isle Park, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:14.9166 (112.926)
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:14.9285 (112.908)
3. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 01:15.5659 (111.955)
4. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:15.7708 (111.653)
5. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 01:16.3897 (110.748)
6. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 01:16.4613 (110.644)
7. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 01:15.5508 (111.978)
8. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 01:15.6712 (111.799)
9. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:15.7142 (111.736)
10. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:15.7172 (111.732)
11. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:16.0998 (111.170)
12. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:16.2665 (110.927)
13. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 01:16.1087 (111.157)
14. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:16.3154 (110.856)
15. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:16.2643 (110.930)
16. (18) Conor Daly, Honda, 01:16.6370 (110.391)
17. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:16.4512 (110.659)
18. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 01:16.7138 (110.280)
19. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:16.4965 (110.593)
20. (19) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 01:16.9140 (109.993)
21. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:17.6894 (108.895)
22. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 01:18.3918 (107.919)

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.