LONG POND, Pennsylvania – Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato continued his prowess on Verizon IndyCar Series superspeedways, capturing the Verizon P1 Award and pole position today for the ABC Supply 500.
Taking the track as the final qualifier – and moments after watching Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay crash on his qualifying attempt – Sato sizzled around the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway oval at 219.639 mph to earn his second pole position this season and seventh of his eight-year Verizon IndyCar Series career.
ABC SUPPLY 500: Qualifying results
Sato will lead the 22-car field to the green flag in Sunday’s 200-lap event (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network), the 14th of 17 races on the 2017 schedule.
“I was a little bit worried about Ryan, but I got a good feeling on that warmup lap and I couldn’t believe it,” said Sato, who became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 in May following a thrilling late-lap duel with Helio Castroneves.
“Obviously, the engineers and guys did an incredible job. What an incredible achievement for Andretti Autosport.”
Sato’s late heroics bounced Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud from pole honors. The reigning series champion, driving the No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet, averaged 219.395 mph on his run to earn a front-row starting position for the second time in three races.
Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Charlie Kimball and Tony Kanaan locked up the second row in qualifying. Kimball was third in the No. 83 Tresiba Honda (219.369 mph), with Kanaan fourth in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda (219.012 mph).
Points leader Josef Newgarden of Team Penske qualified 14th in the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevrolet (217.235 mph).
Hunter-Reay is among three drivers unable to complete qualifications attempts who will start from the rear of the grid. Driving the No. 28 DHL Honda, Hunter-Reay spun exiting Turn 3 on his warmup lap, with the left side of the car making hard contact with the SAFER Barrier before the car slid down the track and made secondary contact with the inside wall on the front straight.
Hunter-Reay limped to the INDYCAR medical response vehicle. After being evaluated at the track’s infield care center by Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR edical director, Hunter-Reay was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest for further evaluation.
Helio Castroneves, second in the championship heading into the weekend, lost control of his No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet heading into Turn 1 on the first lap of his qualifying attempt. The left side of the car made hard contact with the SAFER Barrier.
Castroneves, seven points behind teammate Josef Newgarden for the points lead, was uninjured but will be forced to start 20th in the 22-car field as he chases his first Indy car championship in his 20th season. Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter crashed in morning practice. The No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet crew was unable to repair the car in time to take its place in the qualifying technical inspection line, so Carpenter did not make an attempt. He will start last in Sunday’s race.
A final 30-minute practice is set for 5 p.m. ET today and streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Live race coverage begins at 2 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.