By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer
The Verizon IndyCar Series held its final practice before qualifications for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Team Penske, with their four-car juggernaut, swept the top of the charts led by 2014 Series Champion, Will Power. Power’s Penske teammates, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya took positions two through four, respectively.
With a lap 1:06.89, pacing the circuit at 105.918 mph, the Australian driver topped the time charts in the morning session, completing pre-qualifying efforts that saw Penske cars lead both the first and second practice sessions on Friday.
Team owner Roger Penske said, “Our guys have migrated to close to the same setup, Juan was very quick yesterday when he came out and Power obviously is a master around here. We look at the traces and the guys understand where they’ve got to be better, and I think the preparation has been good. Our shock work and aerodynamics seem to be good. Do you put more on or do you take some downforce out? That’s going to be the question for qualifying.”
Power is a three-time pole winner at Long Beach, and he has found victory lane on the street circuit twice (2008 and 2012). When qualifying commences at 5 PM EST, Power will be looking to gain the 37th Verizon IndyCar Series pole of his career.
While Team Penske dominated practice and qualifying through the entire past season, their efforts did not necessarily translate to results on race day. Perhaps, this lends hope to the rest of the field, including Schmidt-Peterson driver Mikhail Aleshin who ended the session as the fastest non-Penske car, a little over a half-second behind Powers’s pace.
Defending race-winner Scott Dixon had a quiet session that left him tenth quick.
Behind Aleshin, Graham Rahal, another Honda runner, put up the sixth fastest time. Rahal, however smacked the wall in the late going, damaging the left side suspension.
Andretti Autosport driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay also found himself off-course in the 45 minute session, with minimal damage.
Qualifying can be seen on a live stream at www.indycar.com at 5 PM EST, and NBC-SN will broadcast the session on a tape delay at 6 PM EST.
Image Chris Owens:INDYCAR