LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Carlos Munoz wasn't about to be outdone.
The 21-year-old earned his third consecutive Sunoco Pole Award with a last-lap, track-record lap of 1 minute, 12.9374 seconds on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit for the Long Beach 100 on April 21. It supplanted Jack Hawksworth, who seconds before jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:13.3324.
"I didn’t do 100 percent, I did 200 percent," Munoz said. "I pushed a lot. I was near the wall a lot of times. We improved (the car) a lot over the weekend and I think I’ll have a really good car for the race. I have to thank my team, my driver coach, everyone I’d like to thank. I’m really happy and the important thing is (the race)."
Click it: Starting lineup for the Long Beach 100
The front-row starters are the same for the third race in a row in the young season, and each driver has a victory. Getting to the front was a victory of sorts for Hawksworth, the Firestone Indy Lights points leader who crashed in practice less than 24 hours earlier.
The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew worked for more than seven hours into the evening to convert a backup car, which is the same car that Esteban Guerrieri used to win last year’s Long Beach 100, into the primary car. It, however, was in oval configuration in preparation for a test at Auto Club Speedway with driver Kyle O’Gara next week.
In order to be ready for practice and qualifying, the team – with assistance from the other two Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crews – put the road course package and Hawksworth’s setup on the car, change the engine and customize the car to fit Hawksworth, who stayed with the team until the work was completed.
"This car is really similar to my car," he said. "The good thing about being in a car like this is that they can always turn out cars if needed. It was lucky we had a practice session this morning to see how the car was. No difference between the two cars really, pretty happy with both of them.
"Practice 2 went really well; really happy with this car. And qualifying was the same really, go out there and try to get pole. I did the best I could with the car. I got out there and was in the fight for the first spot and just was not quick enough at the end, so I am disappointed but we live to fight another day."
Andretti Autosport's Zach Veach qualified a season-best third and Peter Dempsey of Belardi Auto Racing will start fourth in the 45-lap race at 1:15 p.m. (ET).