14 April 2012
Long Beach - Qualifying times
Ryan Briscoe and Will Power were fastest in qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but it's Dario Franchitti and Josef Newgarden who will start on the front row.
Qualifying consisted of half the field running in the 15 minute Group 1 and the other half in Group 2, with the top six from each group progressing to the ten minute Top 12 session, and the top six then going through to the shoot-out Firestone Fast Six round.
Round 1 Group 1
Ed Carpenter was first out of the pits, followed by Katherine Legge and eventually by Charlie Kimball and Alex Tagliani, but most of the 13 drivers once again play the waiting game hoping that other cars will work on improving the unexpectedly slick track conditions for them - a very risky proposition if the session had become as strewn by red flags as the earlier practice session had been, but in fact it proved to be incident-free throughout.
Finally just before the halfway point of the 15 minute session the rest of the cars start to stream out, led by Takuma Sato, Ryan Briscoe and Rubens Barrichello. The first driver to post a time under the 70s mark was Scott Dixon with a lap of 1:09.7909 but that was quickly bettered by Ryan Briscoe and then by Justin Wilson. Dixon responded with a lap of 1:09.5756 to go top again with a little more than three minutes remaining, and with only 0.18s covering the top six positions that would progress through to round 2.
With a minute remaining EJ Viso briefly popped to the top spot but was swiftly displaced by a new flying lap of 1:09.3277s from Ryan Briscoe. Along with Dixon and Wilson, the final round 2 spots went to James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan, with Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal failing to do enough in their final fast laps after the chequered flag came out.
1. Ryan Briscoe Penske-Chevrolet 102.193mph 1:09.328s (5 laps)
2. EJ Viso KV Racing-Chevrolet 101.971mph 1:09.479s + 0.151s (5 laps)
3. Scott Dixon Ganassi-Honda 101.848mph 1:09.562s + 0.235s (5 laps)
4. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne-Honda 101.763mph 1:09.620s + 0.293s (5 laps)
5. James Hinchcliffe Andretti-Chevrolet 101.686mph 1:09.673s + 0.346s (6 laps)
6. Tony Kanaan KV Racing-Chevrolet 101.568mph 1:09.755s + 0.427s (4 laps)
7. Takuma Sato RLL-Honda 101.356mph 1:09.900s + 0.572s (6 laps)
8. Graham Rahal Ganassi-Honda 101.241mph 1:09.980s + 0.652s (6 laps)
9. Charlie Kimball Ganassi-Honda 101.184mph 1:10.019s + 0.691s (7 laps)
10. Rubens Barrichello KV Racing-Chevrolet 101.117mph 1:10.065s + 0.737s (4 laps)
11. Alex Tagliani BHA-Lotus 100.044mph 1:10.817s + 1.489s (6 laps)
12. Ed Carpenter ECR-Chevrolet 99.155mph 1:11.896s + 2.568s (9 laps)
13. Katherine Legge Dragon-Lotus 98.244mph 1:12.114s + 2.787s (10 laps)
Round 1 Group 2
HVM's Simona de Silvestro was quick to exit pit road in order to make the most of a deserted track at the start of the second round 1 qualifying group, which she had to herself for well over six minutes until finally Oriol Servia and Dario Franchitti led the start of the track invasion by the remainder of the field.
De Silvestro's early best time of 1:12.0590s was soon displaced by Franchitti's 1:10.6209s lap despite the back end of the #10 stepping out dramatically in the attempt. Josef Newgarden briefly went top of the times, but Franchitti responded by posting the first sub-70s lap of the group with a 1:09.9025s.
Series rookie Newgarden immediately hit back with a brilliant lap of 1:09.4754s that was almost half a second faster than the reigning champion, and which even Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay were unable to beat in their own flying laps. Newgarden improved his time even further to 1:09.2455s before pulling into the pits with a minute remaining, and he ended up over two tenths of second clear of the nearest competition - a performance that left many observers literally slack-jawed with amazement.
Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves claimed the final two spots in the top six that progressed into round 2, bumping out the 2011 Long Beach winner Mike Conway to seventh place.
1. Josef Newgarden SFHR-Honda 102.314mph 1:09.246s (5 laps)
2. Will Power Penske-Chevrolet 101.972mph 1:09.478s + 0.233s (5 laps)
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti-Chevrolet 101.842mph 1:09.567s + 0.321s (4 laps)
4. Dario Franchitti Ganassi-Honda 101.787mph 1:09.604s + 0.359s (7 laps)
5. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt-Hamilton-Honda 101.742mph 1:09.635s + 0.390s (6 laps)
6. Helio Castroneves Penske-Chevrolet 101.425mph 1:09.853s + 0.607s (6 laps)
7. Mike Conway AJ Foyt-Honda 101.375mph 1:09.887s + 0.641s (7 laps)
8. JR Hildebrand Panther-Chevrolet 100.666mph 1:10.379s + 1.134s (6 laps)
9. Marco Andretti Andretti-Chevrolet 100.36mph 1:10.594s + 1.348s (4 laps)
10. Oriol Servia Dreyer & Reinbold-Lotus 100.233mph 1:10.684s + 1.438s (7 laps)
11. James Jakes Dale Coyne-Honda 100.127mph 1:10.758s + 1.512s (5 laps)
12. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon-Lotus 100.046mph 1:10.815s + 1.570s (6 laps)
13. Simona de Silvestro HVM-Lotus 98.319mph 1:12.059s + 2.814s (4 laps)
Round 2 - Top 12
With the session time cut to just ten minutes in round 2, it was nonetheless almost two and a half minutes before Ryan Briscoe was the first car to exit pit road for the Top 12, followed by Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Justin Wilson and then soon the rest of the field.
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