LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 12, 2014) – Team Penske made the best of a challenging qualifying session during the Saturday time trials for the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Though none of the team’s three drivers made it into the Firestone Fast Six final round of qualifying, Helio Castroneves will start among the top 10 when the Verizon IndyCar Series race begins from a standing start on Sunday.
Castroneves qualified ninth after recording a fast lap of 1:08.1119 in the No. 3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet around the 11-turn, 1.9-mile street circuit during the second round of qualifying.
“The red (Firestone) tires were unbelievable. It completely changed the handling on the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy,” said Castroneves. “The car is running really smooth. It’s going to take some strategy to get to the front and I have the man for that in Roger Penske. I’m counting on him tomorrow. I can’t wait for tomorrow. We obviously want to start in the front, but with the standing start I feel like we can still be in good position.”
Will Power, who has won 15 pole positions on temporary street circuits since joining Team Penske in 2009 – including two at Long Beach – qualified in the 14th position with a lap of 1:08.1159 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
"Obviously, the No. 12 Verizon Chevy team is starting a lot further back then we had hoped,” said Power, who won the season-opening race at St. Petersburg two weeks ago. “We just have to try to make that work from where we are and do the best we can tomorrow."
Juan Pablo Montoya, making his start at Long Beach since 2000, recorded the 16th-fastest lap -- 1:08.3689 -- in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
"The No. 2 Verizon Chevy has been really good all weekend,” said Montoya. “We keep gaining on it and I definitely think we had a car that was capable of the Fast Six. We just brushed the wall in turn four. I was trying hard to get that extra two tenths (of a second) and it didn't work out. Part of it is I'm still learning what the red tires are going to do. It's part of the process and I understand that. I really thought we would have a little more grip. We have some work to do for tomorrow but we do know we have a fast car."
The 40th edition of the longest-running street race in North America is scheduled to begin Sunday at 4:50 p.m. ET. The live broadcast on NBC Sports Network will begin at 4 p.m. ET.