Team Chevy Drivers Claim Four of Firestone Fast Six Qualifying Positions for the IZOD IndyCar Series Season-Opening Race
ST. PETERSBURG (Fla.) (March 23, 2013) – For the fourth consecutive year, Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, will lead the starting field of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) to the green flag. With a lap of 01:01.2070, 105.870 m.p.h., Power won the 30th pole of his career.
Four of the Firestone Fast Six Drivers were powered by the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Twin Turbo Direct Injected Engine. Simona De Silvestro, No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, will start third in Sunday’s 110-lap race. James Hinchcliffe, No. 27 GoDaddy.Com Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, will roll off fourth and Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, who has won the St. Petersburg race three times, will start fifth.
“Congratulations to Will Power and Team Penske on winning the pole for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, IZOD IndyCar Series. “This is a very good way to start the opening weekend of the season for Chevrolet. It is difficult to know if your off season efforts were sufficient, so we were anxious to see how we measured up. The race tomorrow will be the true test and I am looking forward to an exciting race.”
Also starting in the top-10 for Team Chevy are: Marco Andretti, No. 25 R.C. Cola Andretti Autosport Chevrolet – seventh; defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 1 DHL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet – eighth and Sebastian Saavedra, No. 6 True Car Dragon Racing Chevrolet – ninth.
The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled to start on Sunday, March 24 at 12:00 (Noon) p.m. ET with live TV coverage of the 110-lap event on NBC Sports Network. The IMS Radio Network brings the action live to fans. Both the radio broadcast and live timing and scoring can be found on www.indycar.com. Radio broadcast can also be heard on XM Radio 211/Sirius Radio 211.
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER QUOTES:
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – POLE WINNER
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR 30TH CAREER POLE. THIS HAS TO BE A GREAT WAY TO KICK OFF THE SEASON:
“Yeah, definitely that is always the aim and good start to the year. Obviously, this is going to be a mixed up race tomorrow with weather and so on. You know it keeps us out of trouble for the first part and see what we can do after that.”
SOMETHING NEW THIS YEAR THE VERIZON P1 AWARD VERY FITTING THAT THE VERIZON DRIVER SHOULD GET THE VERY FIRST ONE CONGRATULATIONS:
“Well thank you I didn’t even know about that, but thank you to Verizon for the car and also the pole award. Very good start to the season. Just had to get through the fast six and look after our tires in the first two rounds then see what we could do that last one.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO, NO. 78 NUCLEAR ENTERGY AREVA KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED THIRD
WHAT WAS IT LIKE MOVING UP THROUGH THE QUALIFYING SESSIONS TODAY?
“I was actually pretty nervous because last year I haven’t done that in a while so it was kind of like let’s see how it goes. KV Racing they gave me a really good car and every session we tried a few changes and went in the right direction. To be right up there is an awesome feeling. After the year I had last year it’s really cool to get this opportunity with the Nuclear Clean Entergy car and to be running up front. It’s awesome.”
WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET HEADING INTO TOMORROW?
“Pretty much like the whole weekend I’ve been pretty open to anything that can happen. I feel like I have to learn a lot of things for the first race weekend so I can get better after that. So far it has been going pretty well and hopefully the race is going to go well too.”
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT THAT YOU HAVE MADE WITH KV RACING THIS YEAR?
“Well the biggest thing I think is joining the Team Chevy family. It’s been a huge relief to be with a manufacturer like Chevrolet. It’s been awesome. They have really given me the tools to be competitive and just really cool to have things happening the right way right now.”
FIRST TIME EVER IN THE FIRESTONE FAST SIX HOW MUCH FUN ARE YOU HAVING?
“It’s awesome. The whole weekend has been going really well for us. It’s kind of really cool to finally get the results we wanted. Thanks to KV Racing Technology to give me the opportunity and also the whole Nuclear Clean Entergy campaign to be supporting me after the year we had last year. Just cool to get the results, it’s just unbelievable we were right there with Will (Power) and (Takuma) Sato who are usually always up there and just really fun to be up there with them.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED FOURTH: ON HIS QUALIFYING: “To go out there and get a start for the GoDaddy car, we’re pretty pleased. I would have liked to have seen a few more of my teammates in the Fast Six, but we’ll get together tonight and put our heads together and try to make a good race car, because, obviously, we didn’t quite have enough in qualifying. Will was outrageously quick to get on the pole and everybody. It’s a good group up here for the Fast Six. So just happy to be in the first two rows of the first race.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED FIFTH: ON HIS QUALIFYING: “The Hitachi car and Hitachi boys did a great job during the practice because we didn’t have much of a comfortable set‑up, and we were having some issues, unfortunately. At the end of the day in qualifying we were able to get back in the groove and the Red tires were good at that point. Now qualifying was tough. We start in the same position as last year and it worked out, so hopefully we’ll do that again.”
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 25 RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED SEVENTH
“We had a good team effort today. I would have liked to see something in the Firestone Fast Six, but it takes so much to get everything right. The tires are pretty finicky, so that can make things pretty interesting for days like this. We will make some adjustments tonight, and come back tomorrow ready to go.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 1 DHL ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED EIGHTH
“This morning we got aggressive with the setup and we tried some things that didn’t really work, so we went back on it for qualifying and didn’t quite hit the sweet spot. We were only a couple tenths off. Looks like we were less than a tenth off from being in the Firestone Fast Six. As usual it’s tight – if you miss it by a hair, you’re going to be on the outside looking in. Eighth is in the Top 10 – we can start from there and still race for the win. Optimistic about that, just disappointed that we didn’t get the DHL Chevy into the Top Six.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA, NO. 6 TRUECAR DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED NINTH – AFTER SUCCESS HERE LAST YEAR IN INDY LIGHTS,HOW WERE YOUR FIRST QUALIFYING LAPS?
“It does help to bring a little bit of momentum from last year. We were podium here in Indy Lights. Now together with Dragon Racing we’re just doing a really good job. We struggled a bit yesterday, but we kept very late until last night. The No. 6 TrueCar racing guys just worked nonstop to do it. I’m very pleased.”
HOW WAS THE BALANCE OF YOUR CAR?
“It was for sure and uncertain thing. We didn’t know what was going on. We went out there pretty much blindfolded. It was good balance. It is more grip, but for sure the Firestone guys have done an incredible job to make the tires for this year even better. Everything is improving. To see six C
hevy’s up front is also very nice.”
TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 HYDROXYCUT KV RACING TECHNOLOGY/SH RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 11TH:
“It’s a shame. We had very good momentum going on the No. 11, the Chevy power was great and the Firestone tires help up well. I had a Top-Five car, but we made a minor change between the qualifying sessions that did not go our way, leaving us back in 11th on the grid. Well, tomorrow is another day and I’m sure we’ll be fine when the green flag flies.”
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 MECUM AUCTIONS PANTHER DREYER & REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 12TH:
“It’s not where we wanted. We were fourth yesterday and I felt the car was good but it’s just so tight. We made the top 12 which is what our goal was, last year I think it only happened once all season. We had a car that had the potential to be in the top 6, but we just didn’t nail the change between the two runs so we couldn’t go to the next phase. We’re making progress and it’s showing, we just need to keep pushing and keep learning.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 7 MCAFEE DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 21ST: “The car is not responding to what we have done. The other car is much better, and Sebastian (Saavedra) has driven it well. We have a very different setup from what we were using last year. I think I was pretty much on the way to do a .62 flat, but Tagliani just got in the way, and that was that.”
E.J. VISO, NO. 5 TEAM VENEZUELA PDVSA CITGO HVM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 22ND:
“Well it was a tough day today especially with the morning we had. Something failed in the practice session this morning, and we could only get a couple laps – it was tough to recover. Qualifying didn’t go the way we wanted either and we’re missing a lot of downforce in the car which made the car understeer like crazy. I’m happy for my teammates, though, they did a good job; James (Hinchcliffe) is starting Top Six . I really think tomorrow will be a good day. There are plenty of variables that can affect us, including the weather, but I totally trust the strategies that Andretti is going to put together for tomorrow’s race.”
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 23RD:
“That was the first time we had been on the red Firestone tires so we are still learning how they handle them. We have been talking about how we can use the reds in the race too. The grip level is good with red tires but they change later in the stint. We just need to see how we can be prepared for the race. We are getting some good grip on the rear tires, but we had some understeer in the low speed corners. So we need to work in that area for Sunday. Boy, it is competitive out there. There was just over one second in the top 12 in that first qualifying group. That makes it hard to move up when the field is that tight. This is just a highly-competitive series.”
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 24TH : “We don’t want to be this far back. We needed to be faster, but it’s two-tenths, so I think we need to go back and make the car a little bit better and make sure we have a good car for tomorrow.”
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
An interview with:
SIMONA de SILVESTRO
THE MODERATOR: We’ll get started with today’s post qualifying press conference. We’re pleased to be joined by some of our Firestone Fast Six qualifiers for tomorrow’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The Firestone Fast Five has drivers representing five different teams and they are separated by .8 of a second in that final second there. We’re joined by James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport who qualified fourth. James’ only previous start here was last year where he also started from the fourth position. Talk about qualifying today.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I’m glad to get it out of the way, to be honest. It was sort of the big first challenge for the weekend for us was our first qualifying of the year. It’s a big unknown, and obviously it was the Firestone Reds because we had no opportunity to test on them or practice with them. The first time you get to drive them is really when it counts in qualifying.
So to go out there and get a start for the GoDaddy car, we’re pretty pleased. I would have liked to have seen a few more of my teammates in the Fast Six, but we’ll get together tonight and put our heads together and try to make a good race car, because, obviously, we didn’t quite have enough in qualifying. Will was outrageously quick to get on the pole and everybody. It’s a good group up here for the Fast Six. So just happy to be in the first two rows of the first race.
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Helio Castroneves of Team Penske who will start in the fifth position; he’s the 2007 pole sitter here. Helio, you’re a three‑time winner here, looking to make it a four. Talk about qualifying in a prime position starting for tomorrow’s race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, certainly, the Hitachi car and Hitachi boys did a great job during the practice because we didn’t have much of a comfortable set‑up, and we were having some issues, unfortunately. At the end of the day in qualifying we were able to get back in the groove and the Red tires were (Indiscernible) at that point.
It was good the times, so at least we don’t need to wait for that long. I think the fans are able to see more action out there. For us it was a good effort. John Florveus, my engineer, John, Jonathan, actually, so it’s a new engineer, and we’re very happy that we were able to find the issues and good job for him and good job for the whole entire team.
Now qualifying was tough. We start in the same position as last year and it worked out, so hopefully we’ll do that again.
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Simona De Silvestro of KV Racing Technology who qualified third. This is a career best start or qualifying result for Simona. Her previous best start was seventh in Edmonton in 2010, and her previous best start here in St. Pete was 14th in 2010. Simona, talk about making your first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six today?
SIMONA de SILVESTRO: Yeah, it was pretty exciting to make the Fast Six. I’ve never been in this position, and I was pretty nervous before qualifying because I haven’t done a qualifying run like this in a long time, so it was kind of a little bit nerve‑racking.
But each session went better. We made a few changes every team, and really happy with P3. It’s kind of a huge relief to be in this position. I really have to thank everybody that’s supported me through the difficult years we’ve had so far and to make it now into starting third for the first race of the season is pretty awesome.
THE MODERATOR: Great, Will Power of Team Penske is the winner of the Verizon P1 Award. This is Will’s fourth consecutive pole at St. Pete, and his 30th career IndyCar pole. Will, talk about qualifying and getting that first front row position for tomorrow’s race?
WILL POWER: Yeah, that was interesting. I never knew you could make so many changes to a car through qualifying. In between each round it’s kind of hard to find a balance all weekend, but it seemed very nice on used tires. Going into the final round was kind of straightforward; just go out there and give it everything I had.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Straightforward.
WILL POWER: That’s right, Hinchcliffe. That’s right, pal. What else are you going to do? You’ve got to go out there and just do it, man.
THE MODERATOR: Great, thank you.
Q. Is it a requirement as the Verizon driver to win the
Verizon pole award?
WILL POWER: It was, otherwise I’d be fired. So I made sure I got it.
Q. About women in motorsports:
SIMONA de SILVESTRO: Yeah, it’s true. I think when we wear the helmet, we all look the same and just try to do the best job we can out there. You know, it’s a difficult sport in IndyCar. But, for me, it’s always been really important to get the results and being a female second. I always wanted to be a really good race car driver, and that’s what I’m aiming for. I’m really lucky also to have people around me who saw this that way too. That I wanted to be really competitive and try to win races and be running up front.
Q. Differences in tires:
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I don’t think there’s one reason in particular. Certainly just being the first one of the year and these Red tires are just such an unknown. I think a lot of people found it was sort of one lap was the magic lap. With the exception of Will, you didn’t usually go quicker after that. If you made one little mistake or caught a guy in traffic or something like that, your next lap was significantly slower.
So I think what you see here is the people that did the best job of finding the gap and putting the sectors together. That’s not to say there are not going to be quick cars a little further down the grid tomorrow, so could make for a really quick race.
WILL POWER: It’s always like that in IndyCar. You can never predict what’s going to happen. We don’t know who is going to win, but that is the excitement of it. Never had so much depth in the field of drivers. Everyone, like, there are no bad drivers. You go to the field, and you have 20 guys there. All of these guys can win. Given the right equipment and day, they can win races.
I hope IndyCar gets that after how difficult this series is. I think they need to. I don’t think enough people know about it, you know, how many good drivers there are in this series.
SIMONA de SILVESTRO: Yes, it’s funny. Actually this winter I had a lot of time to think about if I would be fast. After years ahead, you really didn’t know where you were. And after a few tests it was kind of like, okay, it’s kind of all right. But after you get to a race weekend and you feel the pressure a little bit from the outside and know where you are, I think it’s really rewarding for me and also for my team to kind of show where we can be.
I think it’s kind of a big relief to know that we can be up front and be running up front. I think it’s just going to make it easier now going forward because I know I can be fast and I know I have the tools to be fast.
Yeah, definitely I was pretty nervous going into qualifying and things like that, but the weekend so far I’ve been kind of letting it come to me and working pretty well so far.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I think there is no doubt, and it’s not just us. Like Tristan (Vautier): , I ran pro Mazda and then Indy Lights, and if you look back from 2008, ’09, ’10, 11′ and now ’12, at least one lights driver has graduated from a full‑time IndyCar ride, and other guys have gotten part‑time deals. How the GP3 over in Europe for more money is full and Indy Lights has nine cars is unbelievable.
It’s shocking how narrow minded some of these young drivers are that they can’t see such an incredible opportunity over here in the Lights Series. It trains drivers well. Tristan has proven that.
Like I said, five years in a row, somebody’s graduated to a full‑time IndyCar. There is no other series that can boast something like that. It’s nuts. I just don’t get it.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Oh, yeah, it’s too long an off‑season for everyone, especially for the driver. The driver is trying to find things to do and they start to get in trouble sometimes.
But I wish we would have started much earlier in the season. We probably are one of the last top series that start that late and beginning of a championship. So probably the earliest one to finish as well.
So it’s one of those scenarios I already said my opinion regarding how they do. Obviously, you need to look for dates, you need to look for opportunities, you need to find some places, which I guarantee you, obviously, TV as well, timeframe or areas that they can show.
But, at the end of the day, it is what it is. We’ve just got to keep going, keep working, keep trying like the IndyCar Series is doing, and hopefully we’ll be better in the future.
Q. (No Microphone).
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I do get jitters, yes. Butterflies in my stomach, especially when they play the National Anthem, but the butterflies the fly in formation. Right now I’m under control.
Q. Your thoughts on the extra ten laps being added for the race tomorrow?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes, certainly it will create an interesting aspect. I don’t think it’s going to be a save fuel mode run in the beginning of the race. I believe it’s the three stops, so people are going to push or create an opportunity for a lot of racing in the beginning, so it’s going to be interesting.
Like I did last year in two stops, it’s going to be very, very difficult to do which takes a little bit away from the strategy from other teams. At the same time, it adds a little bit more challenge in the beginning of the race. Instead of follow the leader, I do feel it’s going to be quite a more challenge.
But it’s still going to be competitive. Firestone Tires did a great job off‑season improving the grip, and right now, tomorrow, we’re going to find out how they’re going to hold up during that scenario. Adding ten more laps is another thing to start thinking about.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations and best of luck tomorrow.