Mueller: Quotes from Qualifying at the Beach Part 2

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Now we move on to part 2 of driver quotes from Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session from Long Beach,CA. In part 1 we covered the Firestone Fast 6, now we take a look at the rest of the 23 car field. All quotes are courtesy of IndyCar Media.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The No. 2 Verizon Chevy has been really good all weekend. 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.”

CARLOS HUERTAS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “This morning was good and then we made a couple of changes and then on the red tires for the first time for me it was difficult. The car was not as I wanted it to be and I lost a lot of time so it is disappointing. I think I should have been higher but it is what it is. We thought the tire would generate more grip and sort out some problems we had but it didn’t. Anything is possible [tomorrow]. It is a long race on a street circuit so anything is possible.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA Southern California Chevrolet): “The red tires were unbelievable. It completely changed the handling on the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy. 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.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 National Guard Honda): “It was a struggle today. We tried to make more changes to get the balance in the car better and then tried some bigger ones for qualifying. We are just struggling with overall grip. Oriol had a big grip gain on alternate tires and I didn’t feel it. We have a lot of work to do. From being second here last year and being fast, the where we are now is a mystery. Oriol did a great job. We will look at what they have done to their car and try to improve ours. Tomorrow we can try alternate strategy, pit early and see how far forward we can go.”

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “Not that you should be happy starting 12th but considering where we were before qualifying and the gains I think we can still make on the car, I’m happy. With as competitive as the field is, going from one round to the second round is a very big achievement. I didn’t make the second round and a couple of tenths (of a second) would have made it. It’s just that competitive. Even if we are still unhappy with the car, we need to keep our heads down and work a little more on the details and hopefully be a little better than the others in the race. I find the tire this year is a little more difficult to figure out. Maybe it has a little less grip than last year. I don’t think anyone is completely happy so we just need to be a little less unhappy than the others and keep improving. I’m really happy. I think I did a good job. It always feels good when you can put a good lap together.”

MIKE CONWAY (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “That is not what we were expecting today for qualifying. We just couldn’t get tires right where we wanted them to be. Things just didn’t fall our way today. We do have an extra set of tires for the race now that could help us. We’ll have to make some adjustments overnight and be ready for the race. The standing start will be interesting here. I think there is enough room for everyone at the start. We were okay last year at Toronto but there were some issues at the Houston race with some guys stalling. It should be fun for the fans too.”

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “We are still tweaking it a little bit here and there but the car feels great. I am pleased with it but I am just so disappointed. With that we are going to be easily through to the fast six easy with a time that was first or second or roundabout there and I tried to brake a fraction too late and I screwed up and locked up over the bumps. I had to go into the runoff, I overdid it so we’ll try to put it back right in the race and come back through to the front. We have done it before so I think we can do it again. It would just be nice not to [have to].”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “Tough qualifying session. We made progress over the two days but just not enough. It’s quite a mixture of a grid so whether it was conditions or not, I don’t know. We tried our best but not going through the Q-1 qualifying round was disappointing. We shall work hard for final practice and hopefully we will have a strong package for the race. We both started on blacks, I pitted a lap earlier for reds. After warming up on my red tires, I was just starting my qualifying lap and he was on charge finishing his lap on blacks. Unfortunately we came close in the very last sector where the timing line is. I didn’t feel it would affect him on his lap time but they decided to penalize me.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “In the first round the Target car was good and we had good speed in the session I felt. We made a lot of progress from yesterday to today, and again from this morning’s practice through to qualifying. We have some work to do tomorrow from our starting position, but we will be prepared.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Obviously it’s not where the Target team wants to qualify – outside the top-12. It was a difficult day and we’re still searching for the grip we haven’t been able to find. We have a lot of capable people and I think overnight we can find a solution here. There are a lot of people on this team that want to win and I’m confident we’ll be ready when the race comes.”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 TNT Energy Drink Chevrolet): “Today didn’t go as we had planned and we definitely didn’t get the result that we wanted to see in qualifications. We’ll just have to work hard tomorrow to make up the spots we lost today in qualifying. We obviously have a little more work we need to do on the car tonight to get it ready for tomorrow, but this is still one of my favorite tracks and I have confidence that tomorrow will be better for the No. 8 TNT Chevrolet and NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It wasn’t the result that Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing would like and we have some more work to do on the cars. I have a lot of confidence in my engineers and the crew that they’ll give me a really good car for the 85 laps tomorrow. The Chevrolets seem to be really good on the standing starts so I have a lot of confidence in that aspect of the race tomorrow. We’ll come up with a great race package tonight and be ready to race from where we start tomorrow.”

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 AFS KVAFS Racing Chevrolet): “It has been a rough weekend so far. The setups we had previously been trying hadn’t been working, so we made a drastic change before qualifying. Looking at how Bourdais’ car was running, it was a no brainer to switch to his setup, but unfortunately just didn’t have enough time to fully understand how the car now reacts. I do feel comfortable with the KV AFS car and believe we have good race car and will focus on learning from it and having a positive day tomorrow.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM Honda): “I think we had more to give during Group Two qualifying, but we just weren’t able to show it. The yellow flag in Turn 9 didn’t help me especially because I was having a great lap, and after that we made some changes that unfortunately didn’t end up working out. I think the Cinsay crew and I will have to go back and work a few things out for tomorrow. I think we had a great car during the first part of qualifying – I was the fastest that session. Anyways, we gave what we had and I’m really happy for the team for being on front row.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): “We tried a new set up, so I was sort of still learning it in qualifying — which has been a trend for us, we need to run the car that I’m going to qualifying during practice three so I know what I’m jumping in to qualify with. Today we could have run less fuel and made it in (the Firestone Fast Six). But it’s still 100% doable from eighth for the Snapple team.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Obviously, the No. 12 Verizon Chevy team is starting a lot further back then we had hoped. We just have to try to make that work from where we are and do the best we can tomorrow.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “Oh, man, it was so close. It was just so close between everyone. You know what was weird was that there wasn’t a big jump from Blacks to Reds today. I don’t know why that was. I don’t know if it’s because the Indy Lights cars are now running on Coopers so we don’t get as much Firestone rubber during race weekend. We saw a similar thing in St. Pete. Just wasn’t a big jump. We ran a 78.1 this morning, and feeling really good about it. I think we’ve had an incredibly fast car from the git go here. We just didn’t go quicker in qualifying, and no one really did. More people jumped further than us, but we didn’t go that much faster. I was surprised not to see Will make it either. He was very good this morning, so it’s kind of weird in the way. But car felt really good in qualifying for us, we just didn’t have enough. So thankful that we got the Top Six. I mean, that’s obviously a big goal in its own right. So we’re going to be starting tomorrow with good company, hopefully, and we’ve just got to stay there. That is the goal for us to stay up front.”

Tony Tellez

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