ABC Supply 500 qualifying results
LONG POND, Pa. -- Team Penske swept the top three positions in qualifications for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, but its fourth entry driven by Verizon IndyCar Series championship front-runner Juan Pablo Montoya will be in a decidedly more difficult position at the outset of the 200-lap race Aug. 23.
Helio Castroneves earned his fourth Verizon P1 Award of the season with a two-lap average speed of 220.530 mph (1 minute, 21.6217 seconds) on the 2.5-mile triangular oval in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet.
Castroneves bumped Simon Pagenaud (220.485 mph) in the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet from the provisional pole. Earlier in the session, Will Power recorded a two-lap average speed of 220.398 mph in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and will start third.
"I was able to collect some information from (Power and Pagenaud) and at the end of the day we're strong, we're solid and I can't wait for the race," said Castroneves, who secured his 45th career pole in his 310th Indy car start.
Montoya, who has won four of his 10 Indy car 500-mile race starts including the 2014 race at Pocono Raceway and the 2015 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race from the 15th starting position, will start 19th in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet after posting a two-lap average speed of 217.194 mph.
"You can't really know what's going to happen. We've done a really good job all year, like everybody else, had ups and downs, and we'll see what it brings," said Montoya, who set the track two-lap qualifying record of 223.871 mph in July 2014.
Montoya enters the race (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN) with a nine-point lead over Graham Rahal in the championship standings. Scott Dixon is in third place, followed by Castroneves and Power, the reigning series champion. Rahal tied his season high by qualifying fifth (220.118 mph) in the No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Dixon qualified 11th (218.969) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
"To get the Steak ‘n Shake Honda in the top five feels really was good," said Rahal, who won the last race on a superspeedway in late June. "I definitely think the aero efficiency of the Chevy has an advantage over us here but my guys did a great job to get us a starting spot up front. We didn’t shoot for it all. I told them, ‘Let's be conservative, let’s get some good laps and we’ll be alright.’
"I’ve got to make up some points and I think we can do it. We have to chase down Juan in the points. Obviously, qualifying didn’t go his way but Juan is one heck of a competitor and I know he will be there right on our heels."
Ten drivers are mathematically eligible for the title, which will be decided Aug. 30 in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on the Sonoma Raceway road course that carries double points. A driver must leave Pocono within 104 points of the lead to remain eligible. It will mark the 10th consecutive season in which the title is decided in the finale.
Josef Newgarden, a two-time winner this season, qualified fourth in the No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet (220.141 mph). Newgarden, who is eighth in the standings, recorded his third top-five qualifying effort in the past four races.
The qualifying session was delayed 48 minutes for repairs to the catch fencing in Turn 3 after the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet driven by Charlie Kimball made contact with the SAFER Barrier and catch fencing on his first lap of qualifying. Kimball was checked at the infield care center and cleared to drive. The back-up car was being prepared to start from the last row in the race. Kimball turned the fastest lap in the 90-minute morning practice.
"Went into (Turn) 1 and the car caught me out a little bit with the handling, so I made some adjustments and I don’t know if it was the wind or what caught me going into (Turn) 3. Maybe I was a little aggressive, but it’s qualifying. You have to go for it," said Kimball, who finished second in the 2013 race at Pocono.
"I’m really disappointed for the whole Novo Nordisk team. I know a lot of guys from Novo Nordisk are coming up and the car was really fast this morning. That’s the good thing about having a crew like Chip Ganassi Racing behind you. I know that the car they pull out of the trailer will be just as good.”
Also, the No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet driven by rookie Stefano Coletti that made contact with the Turn 3 SAFER Barrier in the morning practice did not make a qualifying attempt and will start on the last row.