Sunday, April 29, 2012

Power Dances to Sao Paulo INDYCAR Race Pole


For the third time in the first four races of the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series, the open wheel tour is running on a temporary street course. While each of those road circuits come with their own charm, the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presents the series’ first trip outside of the United States this season to race on the streets of Brazil. Presented with a 2.536-mile, 11-turn course, the 26 cars of the IZOD INDYCAR Series readied for their 2012 appearance in the major Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

Qualifying for Sunday’s main 75-lap event went off without a major hitch under cloudy skies and a 74-degree Fahrenheit ambient temperature. Without the confusing drama that proceeded the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race, the Chevrolet engine and the Honda engines (now operating with a more powerful turbocharger unit thanks to the manufacturer‘s appeal to the sanctioning body), The Firestone Fast Six grouping featured three cars from each manufacturer.

After the final 10-minute session in qualifying, it was a familiar competitor that owned the day. The dominance of Team Penske in the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series rolled into South America. As Team Penske remains undefeated in qualifying for 2012, the #12 Dallara-Chevrolet piloted by Will Power topped the time charts on the Brazilian streets. Lapping the racetrack in 81.4045 seconds, Power held off the strong fight of defending IZOD INDYCAR Series champion Dario Franchitti and the Scot’s Honda-powered #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry. The pole for the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 totals 26 times Will Power would start from the preferred spot on the IZOD INDYCAR Series starting grid. Post-qualifying, pole-sitter Power said, “It's good to put the Verizon Chevrolet on the pole. It was satisfying, especially knowing that Honda seems to have an advantage on the straights at the moment, so being on pole is a good start to the weekend.”

Ending the Firestone Fast Six session in his highest position of the 2012 season, Dario Franchitti is still searching for a solid race result in order to begin mounting a title defence in 2012. “We've obviously had a difficult start to the season and a lot of things go wrong in the last couple weeks. We off-loaded with a good car of the truck and made some improvements to it. I'm a bit disappointed in qualifying, especially because the time is in the car.” said Franchitti. Heading into Sunday’s main event, Dario Franchitti and the #10 car have achieved no better than 10th place in the finishing order of an IZOD INDYCAR Series race. Franchitti’s teammate for Target Chip Ganassi Racing Scott Dixon showed solidarity by taking two of the three top positions starting the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300.

As well as the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team posting a strong effort in qualifying on the streets of Sao Paulo, the Andretti Autosport pair of James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay are continuing to be mainstays in the Firestone Fast Six. For Canada’s Hinchcliffe, the Brazilian qualifying session extends his undefeated streak for making the final top-6 time trial grouping for 2012 IZOD INDYCAR events. "I guess four is the number of the day: fourth place, fourth time in the Firestone Fast Six. It's certainly not a bad starting spot to be on the first two rows, but we had a competitive car in (the second qualifying session) and were hoping for a little bit higher up. I need to get a better handle on how to make these tires work better on the second run.” said James Hinchcliffe still searching for his first race win in the series on Sunday.

Returning to Dale Coyne Racing in 2012, British driver Justin Wilson proved himself to be a significant force again for an longer-shot victory. Leading laps at Long Beach in the #18 Honda-powered Dallara, the momentum continued to Sao Paulo where Wilson qualified 6th for the street race. Commenting post-qualifying on his chances on Sunday, Wilson stated, “We're starting sixth, we're in a good spot and we'll see what happens in the race."

Just outside of the Firestone Fast Six, Graham Rahal drives a Chip Ganassi Racing #38 car to 7th on Saturday ahead of the #14 car piloted by Mike Conway. In 9th, rookie Josef Newgarden will again get a chance to start in the top-10 of an IZOD INDYCAR Series race for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing making it his third time in four events this season. Rookie contender and series standout following the near-win in Long Beach Simon Pagenaud starts the race deep in 17th spot.

Despite a feisty field of Brazilian drivers in the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series, the Saturday qualifying session ended on a bit of a down note for the drivers running in their home country. 12th fastest on track during time trials, Tony Kanaan was the fastest of the Brazilian contingent who starts just ahead of former Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello. Sunday’s 75-lap race will be Barrichello first IZOD INDYCAR start in front of his hometown crowd. For Team Penske, Helio Castroneves starts 20th ahead of fellow Brazilian Ana Beatriz who will be starting his first race as a fifth Andretti Autosport car.

The 74 laps on the Sao Paulo start course is set for noon Eastern time with a probability that rain and thunderstorms could affect the Brazilian race for a third year in a row.

Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300
Qualifying Results

Pos # Car # Driver Nationality Race Team Engine

1 12 Will Power Australia Team Penske Chevrolet
2 10 Dario Franchitti Scotland Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
3 9 Scott Dixon New Zealand Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
4 27 James Hinchcliffe Canada Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
5 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay United States Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
6 18 Justin Wilson England Dale Coyne Racing Honda
7 38 Graham Rahal United States Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
8 14 Mike Conway England AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda
9 67 Josef Newgarden United States Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda
10 2 Ryan Briscoe Australia Team Penske Chevrolet
11 26 Marco Andretti United States Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
12 11 Tony Kanaan Brazil KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
13 8 Rubens Barrichello Brazil KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
14 5 EJ Viso Venezuela KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
15 4 JR Hildebrand United States Panther Racing Chevrolet
16 83 Charlie Kimball United States Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
17 77 Simon Pagenaud France Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda
18 19 James Jakes England Dale Coyne Racing Honda
19 7 Sebastien Bourdais France Lotus-Dragon Racing Lotus
20 3 Helio Castroneves Brazil Team Penske Chevrolet
21 25 Ana Beatriz Brazil Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
22 20 Ed Carpenter United States Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
23 78 Simona de Silvestro Switzerland Lotus-HVM Racing Lotus
24 22 Oriol Servia Spain Lotus-Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Lotus
25 6 Katherine Legge England Lotus-Dragon Racing Lotus
26 15 Takuma Sato Japan Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Katherine Legge and Takuma Sato will be assessed 10-grid position penalty for unapproved engine changes. 

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