Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – St. Petersburg, Fla.
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, March 26, 2011
POLE: Will Power 1:01.9625 104.579 mph (Round 3 time)
15th: Oriol Servia 1:03.2434 102.461 mph (Round 1 time)
TELEMUNDO NEWMAN /HAAS RACING DRIVER ORIOL SERVIA TO START 15TH FOR THE HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG
Oriol Servia, No. 02 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Our worst session of the whole weekend so far was the one that mattered most. We couldn’t get the best out of the red Firestone tires. The amount of grip they had surprised us a little bit and I had more understeer than we expected and just couldn’t put a good lap together. It’s a shame because we were fifth fast this morning and the Telemundo car felt really good. Everybody improved a second from this morning and we had the same lap time out there. I think it is a good car for the race but we need to figure out how to maximize the tires. It is a learning process. Starting 15th is obviously not ideal. Its best to start in the first three rows here but starting where we are gives us a little more room to become creative on our pit strategy. We know we have a good car so we should be able to move forward. Every year this race is a crazy, up-and-down event with drivers running in the front and back during the race and no one knows who is going to win. I think we have a fair shot. It’s just disappointing that we couldn’t get the best of the car in the session.”
FAST FACTS: Will be his third race here and first since 2008. Competed in the 2003 Champ Car race here where he started ninth and finished 12th for Visteon/Patrick Racing. Competed here in 2008 for KV Racing where he started and finished seventh…Servia tested with the team in Sebring for two days in December 2010. Prior to that his previous time behind the wheel of an Indy car was also with NHR at the 2009 race in Japan where he finished fourth. He set the fifth fastest overall time at the two day INDYCAR open test at Barber on March 14-15, 2010…Servia, a native of Catalonia, Spain, has made 15 starts for NHR which include his first Indy car win (Montreal 2005) and pole (Surfers Paradise, Australia 2005) as well as a total of seven top-three, 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. In 2005, Servia replaced NHR driver Bruno Junqueira, who suffered a season-ending injury at the Indy 500 on May 29, and then went on to finish second to teammate Sebastien Bourdais in the point standings after 11 events with the team. Servia returned to NHR in 2009 for four races with a season-best finish of fourth at Twin Ring Motegi.
NEWMAN/HAAS RACING HAS 1 WIN, 2 POLES, 2 PODIUMS IN 4 RACES IN ST. PETE: This will be the team’s FIFTH race here. They first competed in the Champ Car race here in 2003 with then-rookie Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira. Bourdais won the pole position in his Champ car debut and became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Nigel Mansell won the pole for the ’93 Australian event – also while driving for NHR. He led 30 laps and became the first driver in the 25 year history of series to lead the first laps of his inaugural Champ car race. He also set the fastest race lap but he put too much pressure on himself to get back to the front after the team pit him out of sequence and contact ended his race. Junqueira was 2nd fast in prov. qualifying on Friday but his fastest lap in final qualifying (possible 3rd) was not allowed because he brought out a red flag when he spun and stopped on course. More red flags resulted in a seventh place start and he dropped to 14th in the race due an air hose problem in the pits but charged back to a 3rd place finish…Justin Wilson started third here in 2008 but alternate pit strategy dropped him to a 9th place finish while Graham Rahal started ninth and became the youngest winner in series history in his debut after holding off Castroneves and Kanaan for two restarts to win by a 3.5-second margin. Rahal ran the fastest lap times on Friday and Saturday on the streets of St. Pete to become the youngest pole winner in series history at 20 years, 90 days old. As the field entered the wide Turn 1 at the start of the race, second place starter Justin Wilson pulled slightly ahead on Rahal’s left while fifth place starter Dario Franchitti made a daring move on his right heading into the right hander. Rahal was not only squeezed in the process, he was hit from behind by Tony Kanaan which spun him sideways and into the grass. He dropped to the rear of the field but rebounded to finish seventh. Robert Doornbos qualified 13th, ran as high as fifth place but finished 11th after having to pit to repair damage from contact while alongside Wheldon for a pass…In 2010, Hideki Mutoh progressed to Round 2 of qualifying in St. Pete despite a morning crash that had the team scrambling to prepare the car in time for qualifying. He started 12th, ran as high as second place for eight laps but finished 14th after multiple pit strategies and an engine stall on his final stop limited his finish.
TUNE IN: The 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live on ABC at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday. Live timing & scoring can be seen free of charge on www.indycar.com.