Sunday, June 26, 2016

Morning Warm-Up: Road America 2016

Will Power aims for his second successive victory
Will Power won his second pole position of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season and 44th of his career. The Australian ran a lap of 102.2105 seconds in the third round of qualifying. This is the 22nd different track Will Power has won a pole position at in his IndyCar career. Power's previous best start at Road America was second in 2007 but his Road America finish is 13th in two starts. He has never finished on the lead lap at Road America. Joining Will Power on row one will be Scott Dixon, who qualified 0.1654 seconds behind Power. This is a career best start for Dixon at Elkhart Lake. The New Zealander makes his first start at Road America since 2002. Dixon's best finish at the track was fourth in 2001 after starting third. He started fifth in 2002 but a fire ended his race halfway through the race. Dixon could become the third different driver to win at Road America for Chip Ganassi Racing. Alex Zanardi won there in 1997 and Bruno Junqueira in 2001.

Tony Kanaan qualified third, his best starting position ever at Road America. His previous best was tenth in 1999. This is Kanaan's best qualifying effort on a road/street circuit since Mid-Ohio 2014, when he started third. He started third at NOLA last year but qualifying was rained out and the grid was set by points. He has four top ten finishes in five Road America starts. Simon Pagenaud will starts to the outside of Kanaan on row two. Pagenaud is the only driver to make every final round of qualifying this season. This will be Pagenaud's second start at Road America. He started 12th and finished 11th in 2007. Hélio Castroneves qualified fifth, a career best for him at Road America. Castroneves' best Road America finish was seventh in 2001. Graham Rahal was the fastest Honda in sixth position. Rahal has started sixth 15 times before in his career. He has three podiums, four top tens and seven top tens in those 15 starts.

Max Chilton just missed out on making the final round of qualifying for the first time in his career but he will start a career best seventh. Chilton's best career finish was seventh at Phoenix in April. Chilton's best finish on a road/street circuit was 14th at Long Beach and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified eighth and this will be his third Road America start. Hunter-Reay qualified eighth in Road America debut in 2003. He finished tenth that day and fourth in his only other Road America start. Conor Daly will start a career best in ninth. His previous best start was 13th at Road America. He started tenth at Belle Isle last year in race two but the field was set by points. Daly won at Road America in Star Mazda in 2010. Carlos Muñoz rounds out the top ten. This is Muñoz's first appearance at Road America in any form of motorsports.

Charlie Kimball qualified 11th and this was the fourth time Kimball made the second round of qualifying this season. Kimball made the second round of qualifying three times all of last year. Sébastien Bourdais will start on the outside of row six. Bourdais' previous worst start at Road America was second. He has finished on the podium in all four of his Road America starts. Mikhail Aleshin missed out on the second round of qualifying and will start 13th and Juan Pablo Montoya was caught out by a red flag during group two's session in round one and Montoya will start 14th. This is Montoya's worst start at Road America and the Colombian's best finish at the track was 13th in 1999. Montoya has led in both his previous Road America starts.

Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi will start on row eight. Sato has started 15th seven times prior in his career. He has retired from three of those starts and has finished better than 15th in three of those starts. He did finish second at Belle Isle last year from 15th on the grid. Rossi was one of the top Hondas during practice but was caught out by the red flag in group two's session. Spencer Pigot qualified 17th with Jack Hawksworth starting next to him in 18th. Pigot won at Road America in 2010 in U.S. F2000. Hawksworth has gone ten races since his last top ten in IndyCar and in those ten races; he has finished 19th or worse eight times.

Gabby Chaves and Josef Newgarden will start on row ten. Chaves finished 12th and 13th at Belle Isle three weeks ago. Newgarden caused the red flag during group two's session and he lost his fastest two laps during the session. Newgarden is racing despite a fractured right clavicle and fracture in his right hand. Marco Andretti qualified 21st, the third time he has started on the last row this season. He started 21st at Long Beach and finished 19th. In the second Belle Isle race, he started 22nd and finished ninth; his only top ten this season. James Hinchcliffe will round out the field in 22nd. He had an electrical issue in qualifying and had his fastest two laps taken away for interference with Rossi.

NBCSN's coverage of the Kohler Grand Prix from Road America begins at 12:30 p.m. ET with green flag scheduled for 1:15 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 50 laps.