• Honda-powered driver qualifies third on 2.5-mile oval
• Second round of 2014 IndyCar Series “Triple Crown”
• Honda drivers claim four of top six starting positions
In a session that saw the existing Verizon IndyCar Series lap record bettered by no fewer than 11 competitors, rookie star Carlos Munoz led the Honda-powered field in qualifying Saturday at Pocono Raceway and will start on the outside of the front row, third, in Sunday’s Pocono INDYCAR 500.
The previous qualifying record, 221.273 mph set in 2013 by Marco Andretti, was beaten by everyone from pole qualifier Juan Pablo Montoya – in his first pole run since returning to IndyCar Series competition this year – to 11th-fastest qualifier Simon Pagenaud.
Munoz was the fastest of four Honda-powered drivers to post top-six qualifying efforts in his Andretti Autosport Honda.He was followed by fourth-fastest Takuma Sato, a two-time pole qualifier this season for A.J. Foyt Racing. Two other Andretti drivers, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe, will start fifth and sixth, respectively. Ryan Hunter-Reay will start ninth as all four Andretti Autosport entries qualified in the top 10 at the Pocono “Tricky Triangle” three-turn oval.
Sunday’s 200-lap run, the second round in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series “Triple Crown” of 500-mile races, begins with live network television coverage at 12 noon on the NBC Sports network.
Carlos Munoz(#34 Andretti Autosport Honda) 3rd fastest in qualifying, Indy Lights winner at Pocono in 2013: “We’ve proven we had a strong car all day long, and I think it was even better in the afternoon [qualifying] from the morning [practice sessions]. Third is a great position for us. This is a long race, and we have a great car, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.It can be tough to pass here. Hopefully, as the race goes on tomorrow, the track will improve and more passing opportunities will open up.”