Saturday, May 14, 2016

Morning Warm-Up: 3rd Grand Prix of Indianapolis

The championship lead starts on pole position again.
For the second consecutive race, Simon Pagenaud will start from pole position. The Frenchman ran a lap of 68.6868 seconds to win his fourth pole position of his IndyCar career and first in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Pagenaud attempts to become the first driver to win successive races from pole position since 2011. Will Power won Sonoma and Baltimore from pole position that year. Pagenaud could become the 11th driver in IndyCar history to finish on the podium in five consecutive races to start a season. The last driver to do it was Sébastien Bourdais in 2006. Charlie Kimball qualified second. It is Kimball's first career front row start. The Ganassi driver was 0.2948 seconds behind Pagenaud in the final round of qualifying. Kimball finished fifth in the two previous Grand Prix of Indianapolis. His two previous starts in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis were 23rd and 14th.

Hondas swept row two. James Hinchcliffe will start third. It is Hinchcliffe's best start he started second for the second Belle Isle race in 2014. Hinchcliffe has never started nor finished in the top ten in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. His 2014 race ended prematurely after he was hit by debris, giving the Canadian a concussion. Last year, Hinchcliffe finished 12th from 13th on the grid. Jack Hawksworth qualified fourth. It is the British drivers best start since starting third in the first Belle Isle race in 2014. Hawksworth's lone front row start was the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Of Hawksworth's six top ten starts, his seventh on the IMS road course in 2014 is his only top ten finish in those six starts. Tony Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya will start on row three. Kanaan's best finish in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis was seventh last year. Montoya finished third in last year's race.

Scott Dixon qualified seventh, his worst start in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. A Penske driver has spun Dixon in each Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Will Power spun him in 2014 and Hélio Castroneves tapped him last year. Sébastien Bourdais will start eighth in his third Grand Prix of Indianapolis start after qualifying seventh in the previous two editions. Bourdais has finished fourth each year on the IMS road course. Mikhail Aleshin has his first top ten start since qualifying second for the second Houston race in 2014. He qualified eighth for Fontana in 2014 but his pre-race accident prevented him from taking the green flag. Will Power rounds out the top ten. Should Power repeat as Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner, it would be the third-worst starting position he has won from. He won from 12th after qualifying second at Long Beach in 2012 and 16th at Belle Isle I in 2014. Power set the track record in the first round of qualifying with a lap of 68.6746 seconds.

Rookies Max Chilton and Alexander Rossi will start on row six. Chilton and Rossi both have two starts on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Chilton finished fourth and third in last year's Indy Lights races and Rossi finished fourth and sixth in Formula BMW USA races during the 2007 United States Grand Prix weekend. Daniel Morad and current Haas F1 Team driver Esteban Gutiérrez won those Formula BMW USA races. Hélio Castroneves will start 13th, his worst starting position in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Since the start of 2014, this is the fifth time Castroneves will start outside the top ten. Matthew Brabham will make his IndyCar debut from 14th. The Brabham family will join the Andretti and Vukovich families as families to have three generations of drivers start an IndyCar race.

Ryan Hunter-Reay will start 15th. Last year, Hunter-Reay went from 19th to 11th in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. J.R. Hildebrand makes his season debut this weekend and will start 16th. Last year, Hildebrand started 15th in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Carlos Muñoz and Spencer Pigot will start on row nine. Muñoz has failed to finish in the top ten in the last three races and has never gone four consecutive races without a top ten. Pigot finished 14th on his IndyCar debut at St. Petersburg in March. Marco Andretti will start 19th for the second consecutive race. Andretti has yet to start in the top ten this season. Takuma Sato rounds out the top twenty. Sato has started 16th and 22nd in his two Grand Prix of Indianapolis starts and has finished ninth both times.

Alex Tagliani makes his first IndyCar starts of 2016 and will start 21st. Tagliani has finished in the top ten twice in 12 IndyCar starts coming from outside the top twenty. He finished sixth from 24th at Michigan in 2001 and finished tenth from 21st at Barber in 2010. Dale Coyne Racing's Conor Daly and Gabby Chaves will start 22nd and 23rd. Daly and Chaves both match their second-worst starting position of their careers. Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden round out the starting grid. Both drivers had their cars fail post-qualifying technical inspection for being underweight. Rahal had qualified third and Newgarden had qualified fifth. This is the 18th time in Rahal's career he has started outside the top twenty. Newgarden matches the worst starting position of his career. He has started 25th on three previous occasions. He finished fifth from 25th at São Paulo in 2013.

The 3rd Grand Prix of Indianapolis can be seen at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC with green flag scheduled for 3:50 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 82 laps.