Sunday, June 25, 2017

Morning Warm-Up: Road America 2017

Hélio Castroneves made IndyCar history and led the Team Penske sweep in qualifying
Hélio Castroneves made IndyCar history at Road America by picking up his 50th career pole position. The Brazilian took the top spot with a lap of 101.3007 seconds. This pole position broke a tie between Castroneves and Bobby Unser for third-most all-time in pole positions. He is only the third driver to win 50 pole positions in a career behind only Mario Andretti, who won 67 pole positions, and A.J. Foyt, who won 53 pole positions. This is Castroneves' 11th pole position since his most recent victory at Belle Isle in 2014. Will Power missed out on his 48th career pole position by 0.0604 seconds. This is Power's fifth front row start of the season and this is the fourth time he and Castroneves has shared the front row this season. Power has not won from second position on the grid since Edmonton 2011. The only other time he has won from second on the grid was Toronto 2010.

Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden made it a clean sweep of the top four for Team Penske. This is the first time Penske has swept the top four spots on the grid since last year's season finale at Sonoma. Pagenaud went on to win that race from pole position while Juan Pablo Montoya started and finished third. This is only the second time in 2017 that Pagenaud has started in the top five on a road/street courses. He started and finished third at Barber. This is the sixth time Newgarden has started fourth in his career. He has finished in the top ten in four of those previous five starts. Scott Dixon is the top Honda in fifth position. It is the fifth time Dixon has been the top Honda qualifier this season. Ganassi has been responsible for the top Honda qualifier in eight of ten races. The two times Ganassi didn't have the top Honda were when Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato split the Belle Isle pole positions. Rahal joins Dixon on row three. Rahal went from sixth to third last year at Road America.

Max Chilton will start seventh for the second consecutive year at Road America. This is the ninth top ten starting position in Chilton's career. His best finish when starting in the top ten is seventh, which occurred at Phoenix last year when he started eighth, his first career top ten start. Marco Andretti joins Chilton on row four. This race comes six years to the day of Andretti's most recent IndyCar victory, which was at Iowa in 2011. This matches Andretti's best starting position of the season. He started and finished eighth in the Indianapolis 500 last month. This is the 19th time Andretti has started eighth. He hasn't finished in the top five from eighth on the grid since Watkins Glen in 2009. James Hinchcliffe and Charlie Kimball round out the top ten on the grid. Hinchcliffe has started in the top ten in every road/street course race this season. Kimball led 26 laps at Texas two weeks ago, the second-most laps Kimball has led in one race in his career.

Ed Jones will start 11th for the third time this season. He started 11th and finished 16th at Barber and started 11th and finished third in the Indianapolis 500. Not only is Jones looking for that elusive first top ten starting position but also he has yet to lead a lap in his career. Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the drivers to make the second round of qualifying in 12th position. This is the fourth time Hunter-Reay has started 12th this season. He finished fourth at St. Petersburg from 12th on the grid. Carlos Muñoz and Spencer Pigot will start on row seven. This is Muñoz's best starting position since he started 11th at the season opener. This is also Pigot's best starting position since the season opener. He started 13th at St. Petersburg. Alexander Rossi will start 15th on the grid. He finished 15th last year at Road America after starting 16th. Tony Kanaan joins Rossi on row eight. This is Kanaan's first time starting outside the top fifteen since last year's Indianapolis 500. The furthest back on the grid Kanaan has won from was 15th at Iowa in 2010.

For the first time in his IndyCar career, Esteban Gutiérrez will not roll off the grid from 19th position. In his third start, Gutiérrez has his career best starting position in 17th. J.R. Hildebrand joins the Mexican driver on row nine. This is the fourth consecutive race Hildebrand has started 18th. His best finish in the previous three races was 12th at Texas two weeks ago. Mikhail Aleshin will start 19th after arriving to the track on Saturday after immigration issues kept him in France for over a week and forced him to miss all on-track activity on Friday. Takuma Sato will start 20th. Sato had started in the top ten in the previous four races. He has four consecutive top ten finishes. Conor Daly rounds out the grid in 21st position, his second consecutive start in 21st position. This is the 15th time in Daly's IndyCar career he has qualified outside the top twenty. He has taken the green flag in 30 races.

NBCSN's coverage of the Kohler Grand Prix from Road America will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET with green flag scheduled for 1:17 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 55 laps.