LONG POND, Pa. – Here’s a number of notes and additional qualifying quotes from Saturday at the ABC Supply 500, ahead of tonight’s final practice from 5 to 5:30 p.m. ET.
- Team Penske was the lone in-day press conference in the media center. Simon Pagenaud and Will Power talked their championship battle while Juan Pablo Montoya expanded after his earlier accident. The funniest exchange between Pagenaud and Power:
WILL POWER: I don’t think you hate me (laughter).
I’ve been in that situation before with Helio (Castroneves). It’s actually good. Nothing’s changed. You know, we don’t talk. We don’t talk. No, I’m just kidding (laughter).
I think the older you get, the less you kind of worry about personalities and all that. You do your business. You don’t weigh too much on emotional stuff between people. It obviously doesn’t matter. You get out on the track and the best guy is going to win. It’s as simple as that. Whoever does win, good on ’em, because they deserve it.
SIMON PAGENAUD: In my opinion, it’s a bit like a marriage, to be honest.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Are you married?
SIMON PAGENAUD: No. I imagine how it is (laughter).
I mean, we’re going to have to be teammates for a long time, hopefully for a long time. We come to the track every week. If we don’t get along, it’s going to be a nightmare.
In other notes:
- Sage Karam is here, and while the Nazareth was close to a deal to run this race, he’s unable to be on the grid for Sunday’s race. The 21-year-old is full speed ahead trying to assemble a 2017 program either alongside or separate from his Lexus RC F GT3 sports car commitments with F Performance Racing, and there remains a slim to outside chance you could see him in a car later this year.
- Had a chance to catch up with INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye. Without giving away too many details there is a good forward thinking vision and strategic plan the series is implementing from an operations standpoint, and “2018” is a big buzzword as well as year. The 2017 schedule is in the process of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, with most if not all races known for next year – Gateway Motorsports Park is expected to be added next week.
- Teams, staff and fans are wearing the USWAGGEAR Justin Wilson tribute socks at the track today. Here’s most of the NBC crew sporting the socks, below, and more tweets can be found at the @IndyCarOnNBCSN Twitter account.
Mikhail Aleshin, No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (after qualifying run): “So what is really important is to say that the team has done a fantastic job. It’s the last part of the season. We’re all together. We’re finding our rhythm. We’re pushing as much as we can every race. It hasn’t all happened like we wanted but we’ve been up there. Try to bring wins to SMP Racing.
“If you’re confident on an oval, it’s dangerous. It’ll bite you soon. Two things can happen… either you’re dumb, or you have a super amount of downforce. You can’t feel comfortable at all. Indy and here have similar speeds, but completely different configurations or things.”
Takuma Sato, No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda: “We hoped (we had a 220). Baseline was that we thought we’d get close to this speed. It’s fantastic. The car was very fast.
“You need a bit of both. We have a tool, the weight jacker. We use them in qualifying. We did a good job for that one.
“It’s just a fun place. Turn 1 with banking. Fantastic feeling. Turn 3 is fast and flat. Road course type. Really enjoy it. Hopefully this qualifying performance leads to a fast race car.”
Alexander Rossi, No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda: “I don’t think we left anything on the table for that run. Guys are in 220s so there is more to be found. I think it’s OK. I’m pretty happy.
“It’s super different here. I feel like with all the running at Indy, I got my head around it. Here I don’t, yet! Nothing you can compare it to, and you can’t do the same thing twice.
“(Turn) One is the scarier corner, for lack of a better word. But you need a solid car in three for the race. Our race car is strong. Glad we got that out of the way.”
Tony Kanaan, No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet: “Conservative run. We knew. We didn’t focus on trying to put the fastest lap together. It was really at the edge. But if you got it wrong on the aero side you got it wrong. It shows. Should be top-10.
“We still have work to do. We have a half hour! The car was a lot different from the test and that caught us by surprise. Great car a week or so ago and it was not so now.”
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet: “Pretty good run. I underestimated where I needed the tools, Lap 1, Turn 1. Cars are good. We have had good test. I think you’ll see guys run better. The track is better now than practice. Not a good day for an early draw. I really like running here. It has the name Tricky Triangle for a reason. Especially right now. Wind has picked up a lot, and you can see with how much Simon struggled compared to Will.”
Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 2 Penske Truck Rental Team Penske Chevrolet: “It was just too loose. Completely different car. That made it tough. Tough break. To be honest I was shocked we made it out. But I’ll take it.”
Max Chilton, No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet: “Their caption here is spot on. It’s a completely different beast of a track compared to two weeks ago. I was fairly confident. But now we’re struggling as a team. We can work our way forward. Scott wasn’t overly confident and we put a bit more downforce on.
“Every corner you have to adjust the tools. Corners couldn’t be more polar opposites. You might end up in the wall. It will require a lot of mental focus tomorrow.”