Pocono Qualifying Wrap-Up
The field is now set for the 2016 ABC Supply 500. Mikhail Aleshin won his first career pole with a two-lap average speed of 220.445 mph. That completes a strong run for Honda, who put five cars into the Top-Seven spots on the grid. Josef Newgarden put his Chevy powered car from Ed Carpenter Racing on the outside of the front row and Helio Castroneves will start fourth as the only other Chevy driver in the Top-Five.
Takuma Sato was very timely in putting together a strong qualifying run that was good for third on the starting grid. I say timely, because his sponsor is also the title sponsor of the race. It’s always wise to perform on weekends that your sponsor has a lot of people on site. Especially when your boss is AJ Foyt.
Carlos Muñoz continued his strong weekend by qualifying fifth. James Hinchcliffe will start sixth and Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi will roll of seventh.
As far as the championship goes, Will Power qualified eighth, while points leader Simon Pagenaud will start fourteenth. I still maintain that Pagenaud will struggle on Sunday (or whenever they run the race) and Power will make up a lot of ground on his teammate.
The remainder of the Top-Ten was filled out by Tony Kanaan in ninth and Ed Carpenter in tenth.
Here is the entire starting lineup for tomorrow’s ABC Supply 500:
1. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 220.445
2. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 220.195
3. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 220.067
4. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 219.781
5. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 219.647
6. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 219.463
7. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 219.326
8. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 218.617
9. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 218.606
10. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 218.424
11. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 218.204
12. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 218.051
13. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 218.012
14. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 217.721
15. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 217.284
16. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 216.917
17. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 216.689
18. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 216.263
19. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 215.337
20. (88) Conor Daly, Honda, 214.757
21. (19) Pippa Mann, Honda, 211.267
22. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, no speed
I was able to get a few photos while standing out in the qualifying line – most notably of Josef Newgarden suiting up and then about to climb into the car. I was also able to catch photos of Pippa Mann and Helio Castroneves, both gathering their thoughts just before their qualifying runs. Just before qualifying, I was able to catch a picture of Helio signing autographs for fans – a common occurrence. Before leaving the pits, I got a picture of the long pit road, looking back toward Turn Three. The photo does not adequately show just how long it is.
Lastly, there was a post-qualifying press conference where front-row starters Josef Newgarden and Mikhail Aleshin addressed the media.
True to form, Honda thrived on the oval with the long straightaways, much like they did at Indianapolis – at least in qualifying. With cloudy skies at best tomorrow, things could be different in the race tomorrow. If they have to run on Monday morning, it will be on a green race track with much cooler conditions. It’ll be interesting to see how Chevy responds in racing conditions.
I’m still going with Hinch to win this race and make it a great weekend for Honda and Schmidt Peterson Racing. But I think Chevy and the Team Penske drivers will make this a very interesting race tomorrow. Let’s just hope that Mother Nature doesn’t mess with things too much.
This will do it for me today. There is one final practice at 5:00, but I don’t anticipate much coming out of that. But please check back tomorrow. I will be at the track early and we’ll have a lot better idea of what the weather situation for Sunday holds. Also, please follow me on Twitter for updates and photos for tomorrow.