Sato earns Verizon P1 Award for Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Uncategorized — By on March 29, 2014 10:26 pm
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SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It was a pretty good track out there. It was kind of fun to be in the mixed conditions. This place has been kind of a thorn in my side. I think that might be the best I’ve ever qualified here, but, we typically race well here. I did have loads of understeer, which was a bit of a pain on the backside. Maybe we didn’t manage the tires well. I think the best lap was when TK (Tony Kanaan) was off in (turn) one. By the new rules, we have to slow down, so it was okay. I have to start there, and that is 15 spots better than last year. I am looking forward to the race.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): It’s a fantastic day. I really couldn’t ask any more for a better start to the season. Really happy with where we are today. Over the course of the winter; we did a really extensive winter test program and it worked out really well. We had a strong package last year here, but obviously there’ve been quite a few changes on the car – tires, Honda’s twin turbo engine. It’s all been good. To come to this weekend is so exciting and, for qualifying, such a dramatic weather change as well. And I’m very pleased that the league and the promoters made the qualification session happen this evening because otherwise I would be starting middle of the pack.

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 National Guard Honda): “I just messed up. I went into Turn 4, thought I was under control, thought I broke pretty well but all of a sudden the right front locked and I just went straight on (into the tires). Unfortunately we did a lap time that would have advanced us but the lap time doesn’t count. Obviously I’m very disappointed. I would have liked to advance but I didn’t do a good enough job today so we’re going to have our work cut out for us in the race.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The car is OK. Balance-wise, it feels good. We got a bit of the insight there on the red tires and bit of a dry track in the Fast Six. Just have to make we have a good look at the data overnight and work to make the Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet better for the race.”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We started on the slick tires then went to the red tires and the track just kept getting better and better. My tires kind of dropped off there at the end and we didn’t have the speed when the track was at its best. We went the safe way expecting there to be a yellow or a red at some point throughout the session and it just never happened. We’ve got the speed but today just didn’t go to plan. We’re still in the top 10 and I’m just excited to get out there tomorrow and be back with the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

MIKE CONWAY (Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “We generated a lot of tire temperature early in the second session of qualifying when the track was a bit damp. We are still missing something in the car. We need to look at it overnight. The 12th spot might have been a little better than what we thought coming into qualifying. The start of the race here is always pretty wild here. You can’t take too easy and you can’t be too aggressive either. You need to be aware of what and who is around you. We will need to make up some positions early and I hope we can do that in the first lap. Even though it bottlenecks into turn one, you usually can go two or three wide through there. You need to find the space to get through the turn.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Qualifying didn’t go exactly according to plan, but the whole No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen crew is excited for the race tomorrow. We are a resilient group and I know we’ll bounce back. We’ll make some changes tonight and develop a plan for tomorrow and be ready to go at green flag.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Definitely a strong start, it was a fun qualifying session – when the track is changing conditions like that all the time you’re searching for grip and every lap is different. I really enjoyed that. We got into the (Firestone) Fast 6 on reds, had a bit of an electrical problem there we had to sort out, so maybe missed the peak. But it was good to come back and qualify third after the practices we’ve had. It’s definitely a bright spot in the weekend so far. We’re ready tomorrow and it should be a good race.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): “In Q2 I went out on the used black (tires) and it was pretty tricky for the first couple laps until the temps came up, but a dry line started pretty quickly after that. As long as you kept it on the dry line things were alright… We have to consider more than weather, it’s the first race back and with a new engine, we don’t really know as far as fuel mileage and stuff how we’ll do until warm up. There’s a lot to sort of see how it plays out, not sure what to expect but hopefully a good day and we can keep the track position. We were able to save a set of reds for the race which will be good.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “It wasn’t much of a qualifying session for the Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing team. Because of the track conditions we waited to go out to make sure that we had room in case something happened, so everyone else got in a lap before the first red flag. When we went back out I got one lap at speed before the second red flag. We were too conservative and I feel bad for the crew. They did a good job preparing the car. We will just have to go to work and do the best we can in tomorrow’s race.”

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 AFS KVAFS Chevrolet): “I think it was meant to be that 11th position, whether we had qualifying or not. We’re meant to put on a show and I think that’s exactly what we did. The first session was wet, so it’s important to read the track as quickly as possible and try not to make any mistakes. I think the KV AFS team did a great job in predicting what was going to happen. Q2 was positive in the beginning when it was still wet, but as it got drier I misread the track thinking it was wetter than it was. Once I had realized, it was too late so I didn’t get the best out of my tires and wasn’t then in a position to fight for the Firestone Fast Six. I am looking forward to the first race tomorrow and hope to bring home some good points.”

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