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Saavedra thrilled after winning maiden pole

Colombia's Sebastian Saavedra was delighted to gain his first pole in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the fourth different polesitter in 2014 so far.
No one would have predicted Sebastian Saavedra would be on pole position for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday - not even the 23-year-old Colombian himself.

"It's huge, a great way to start the month of May," said Saavedra after the rain-hit qualifying session. "I think we've been pushing ourselves, looking to get this opportunity. When we saw that there was a great opportunity, we took it. Very proud."

While that puts him in the ideal starting position for Saturday afternoon's race, it also puts him right in the crosshairs of 24 other drivers who will be eager to make the most of Saavedra's lack of experience in starting at the front - his previous best qualifying effort on a road/street circuit was ninth in the first two events of 2013.

"To be honest, I feel old - I'm 23 years old, but I've been here already for three years," he insisted. "Every day you're learning something different, every corner you're learning something different. But at this time it's not the time to try different things. It's time to keep things the same way, focus on the start.

"It's going to be huge, whoever gets a good jump or not," he added. "It's a long straight. Whatever happens with the weather conditions and the wind direction, it's going to be huge as well."

Saavedra is the fourth different pole sitter in as many races this season, and while the surprise pole was partly the result of the inclement weather making for a chaotic qualifying session, Saavedra insisted that clinching pole position hadn't come out of the blue but was instead the result of ongoing improvements in the KV-AFS Racing team's performance over the past few months.

"We've been getting closer to a couple things," he pointed out. "We've been leading laps and stuff like that. Strategies or things like that haven't worked out. But definitely this is a point that makes you get addicted to more. You just want more. I think this is a great start for that to happen. I think we have something. We're building something from scratch. The long relationship that we're building, it's hopefully soon to be shown."

The combination of the wet weather and race helmet had temporarily destroyed Saavedra's trademark mane of spiky hair, but the driver insisted that there was far more to him than his eye-catching hair style as winning pole position on Friday had proven.

"Everybody will know me by my hair, which is completely destroyed by the hat, but I'm keeping the sponsors happy," he said. "At the end, you'll always see a smile on my face, somebody to have a quick chat. At the end when I put my helmet on, here we are.

Asked to give a self description, Saavedra offered: "A guy who is pushing hard, pushing his limits. Not only putting into play everything he's been learning in the past years, but a driver that will bring a smile or two sometimes."

But for now, Saavedra's attention is firmly on what he has to do on Saturday afternoon when the green flag comes out if he's to stay ahead of the fiercely competitive IndyCar Series field.

"I think the main situation for everybody is trying to put a short enough first gear to make it work off the start, but long enough to make it work on the tight corners," he mused. "That's a big debate because you got to run high first gears to make it through turn 1, turn 12, turn 13.

"That's something I'll get back to the track and start working on right away," he added.



Related Pictures

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Sebastian Saavedra in action at Indianapolis (Photo by: Walter Kuhn for IndyCar Media)
Sebastian Saavedra on track in the rain (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastian Saavedra wins the Verizon P1 award at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis - Friday, May 9 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastian Saavedra, driver of the #17 AFS KV AFS Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates winning the poll Friday, May 9, 2014 for Saturday`s inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana. It`s the first IndyCar poll for Saavedra. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Will Power (center), driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 with second-place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya (left), driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet, and Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Huggies Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. Power has the driver championship points lead heading into the final two races of the season.  (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. Power has the driver championship points lead heading into the final two races of the season.  (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. Power has the driver championship points lead heading into the final two races of the season.  (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power prepares for qualifying (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a sixth-place finish Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. The finish was good enough for Power to retake the drivers points championship lead from teammate Helio Castroneves. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon (right), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. Sebastien Bourdais (left), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finished second. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon and the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing team celebrate victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course on Sunday August 3 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his family after winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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