American Alexander Rossi made it clear that he’s a serious championship contender on Saturday, in qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
In the dying seconds of the Firestone Fast Six, the Andretti Autosport driver turned in a lap time of 1:06.5 seconds, claiming the second pole position of his career.
“Obviously, you go out every single session and believe that you have the best car and the best opportunity to do it,” said Rossi, who put his #27 Napa Auto Parts Honda atop of the scoring charts in all three qualifying sessions.
2012 Long Beach winner Will Power will start from the outside of the front row, after turning in the second fastest lap with a time of 1:06.9 seconds.
“It was good. I felt like we had a really good car. Got to the Firestone Fast Six like we needed to, and yeah, just were not fast enough basically to be on pole, but very happy to be on the front row,” said Power. “You know, we’ve kind of crept up all weekend and definitely made the car better and in a good window now.”
Power’s Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud will line up third on the grid after a lap time of 1:06.907, narrowly missing out on the front row.
“The car was really good. I think (Alexander) Rossi is reachable it’s just that I am learning the car because it’s just starting to feel really great, so I left some on the table,” said Pagenaud, who hopes to threaten a very dominant Rossi.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon will start the race in 4th after a lap of 1:07.04.
Defending Long Beach winner James Hinchcliffe, whose #5 Arrow SPM Honda struggled in practice, will start 8th following a decent lap of 1:07.1 seconds.
“Not a bad qualifying for us given where we were this morning…. We worked on everything, we improved the position of the cars, we improved the balance; it was definitely a lot of work,” said Hinchcliffe.
Robert Wickens, whose early success this season has been a major storyline, pushed his #6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda a little too hard, brushing the Turn 4 wall late in the second session.
“When you’re pushing on the limit, and trying to get into the Firestone Fast Six, you risk everything,” said Wickens, who feels his car has improved throughout the weekend. “The car felt much better than it has all weekend, so good job by the guys crunching the data, crunching the numbers to give us a better car here for this afternoon.”