Sato won the pole with a two-lap average speed of 219.639 miles per hour.
August 19, 2017
As the battle for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship heats up, Takuma Sato laid down two blazing laps to win the pole at Pocono Saturday. The winning driver of this year’s 101st Indianapolis 500 ran two fast laps for a combined time of 1:21.9526 around the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped Pocono Raceway.That put his Honda on the pole with a two-lap average speed of 219.639 mile per hour in the No. 26 Honda.It was the seventh pole of Sato’s Verizon IndyCar Series career and his second this season. He started on the pole for the second Detroit doubleheader race in June.“I always enjoy the track in the past years and even though I don’t have a win here and have had a difficult experience, I have always enjoyed it,” Sato said. “That's why putting down on pole here is something very special, especially after Indy 500, coming to another 500 race, with entire crew from the 26 car we did an outstanding job.”Sato was the last driver to make a qualification attempt on Saturday in a session that was slowed two times for big crashes. The first involved Helio Castroneves, who crashed in the Turn 1 wall just 31 minutes into the session.The biggest crash came one hour later when 2015 Pocono winner Ryan Hunter-Reay pounded his Honda into the Turn 3 SAFER Barrier and then into the infield pit wall on his qualification attempt. The 2014 Indianapolis 500 winning driver was complaining of hip pain right after the crash and had to helped by IndyCar officials to be transported from the scene to the infield medical center.Hunter-Reay was later transported by ambulance to Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest in nearby Allentown, Pennsylvania for further evaluation. Castroneves was uninjured.As the last driver to make a qualification attempt, Sato’s Honda was faster than Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud’s Chevrolet after it had recorded a two-lap average speed of 219.395 mph.“A bit short,” Pagenaud said. “But it was a very good event, very good qualifying for us. The car has been strong all day. Ben Bretzman, my engineer, just nailed the gearing, the balance on the car. That was the best we could do.“I'm quite satisfied. A front row start is really good, our best start here in Pocono. It’s a 500-mile race, so a lot can happen.
“Today was pretty much ego day trying to get that pole position. For us it would have been nice to get another point. But overall I think we did our best and we'll go to bed pretty satisfied with today. Tonight, we're just going to work again on the racecar and try to find even more balance in it to be good in traffic.”Charlie Kimball’s Honda was third at 219.369 mph over a two-lap run followed by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan’s 219.012 mph. Last year’s Pocono winner, Team Penske’s Will Power, rounded out the top five at 218.688 mph over a five-mile run.Josef Newgarden enters the race with a seven-point lead over teammate Helio Castroneves in the battle for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Newgarden qualified 14th at 217.235 mph. Castroneves starts 20th because he never finished his qualification attempt.Scott Dixon is third in the standings, eight points out of the lead and one point behind Castroneves. He was the first to make a qualification attempt and will start ninth after a two-lap run at 217.819 mph.Pagenaud is fourth in the standings, 17 out, Power is fifth, 52 back and Graham Rahal is sixth, 58 out of the lead. Rahal qualified seventh at 218.099 mph.Sato is seventh in the standings, 72 points behind the leader.“I think it's mathematically still possible to challenge the championship, although it's a little bit unrealistic to challenge the winning of the championship,” Sato said. “But as I said, mathematically it's possible.“We try to get the great points coming out here because I think superspeedway, Andretti Autosport have great history, great start. There's certainly no reason why challenging for the winning tomorrow's race. I don't want to think about too much for the double 500 win. 500 race, it's so long. As you seen today's qualifying, anything can happen. I think not only my teammates, but also other drivers have challenging issues today, because of wind direction, because we trim so much.“We see Ryan's moment. That really made me nervous because he was just in front of me. We share a lot of parts and philosophy on the car. So, it's directly expecting what he has is what I have.“I was able to put down a great lap, and I really have to say thank you to all my team.”
Qualifying Saturday for the ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, and speed: 1. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 219.639 mph 2. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 219.395 mph 3. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 219.369 mph4. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 219.012 mph5. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 218.688 mph 6. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 218.622 mph7. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 218.099 mph8. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 218.020 mph 9. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 217.819 mph 10. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 217.748 mph11. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 217.565 mph12. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 217.556 mph 13. (18) Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 217.292 mph14. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 217.235 mph15. (7) Sebastian Saavedra, Honda, 216.943 mph16. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 216.801 mph17. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 215.964 mph18. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 215.115 mph 19. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 214.988 mph 20. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, no speed21. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, no speed22. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, no speed
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By Bruce Martin
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