BALTIMORE (Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012) – About the only thing that could slow Simon Pagenaud down today in qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Baltimore was a concrete wall. And, it did.
Pagenaud, driving the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car, had been at the top of the IZOD IndyCar Series speed charts since practice began yesterday on the streets of Baltimore. He had just set his fastest lap in his qualifying group when his left rear tire and assembly smacked the concrete wall exiting the front-straight chicane.
The Frenchman limped the HP car back to the pits where the Schmidt Hamilton team began quickly assessing and repairing damage, which was all contained in the left rear suspension area.
Despite the incident, Pagenaud’s time and speed in round one were fast enough to move him to the second round of IndyCar’s three-round, knock-out style qualifying. This put the team up against clock to make repairs.
Despite receiving parts and assistance from the Barracuda Racing Team of Bryan Herta, which was pitted next to the Schmidt Hamilton HP team, the car could not be fixed in time to turn a lap in the second round of qualifying. Pagenaud climbed from the car dejectedly, knowing he missed an opportunity at a good starting position.
“The car was really awesome,” said Pagenaud. “I think it was a car good enough for the pole, but I didn’t do my job right today. I am quite upset with myself.”
Though the circuit bit him today, Pagenaud is fond of the 2.04-mile, 13-turn Baltimore street circuit.
“It’s tough out there, but it’s good fun,” said Pagenaud. “You’re really dancing with the car. I really enjoy it. The crew did an awesome job trying to repair the car. Thanks to Bryan Herta’s team. They gave us a wishbone from Tagliani’s car to put on my HP car. It was amazing for them to do that.”
Team Penske’s Will Power scored his fifth IndyCar pole award of the year and the 29th of his career with his lap of 1:17.9750 seconds at 94.184 mph. Power also is the defending race winner having won the inaugural Grand Prix of Baltimore in 2011.
Power will be joined on the front row by AJ Foyt Racing’s Mike Conway, who posted a lap of 1:18.5509 seconds at 93.494 mph. It will be Conway’s best of 2012.
Joining Power and Conway in the Firestone Fast Six final qualifying session were Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (3rd), Dragon Racing’s Sebastian Bourdais (4th) and Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti (5th) and Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe (6th). They will line up in that order Sunday.
Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is second in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship behind Power, will start 13th. He will be joined by the winner of last week’s race in Sonoma, Ryan Briscoe, in Row 7.
The Grand Prix of Baltimore, a 75-lap race around the 2.04-mile, 13-turn Baltimore street circuit, will air live on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, Sept. 2 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The race will also be live on the IMS Radio Network and on XM 94/Sirius 212. Qualifications will be televised on Saturday, Sept. 1, at 6 p.m. ET, on the NBC Sports Network.
DATE: Sept. 1, 2012
EVENT: Grand Prix of Baltimore
LOCATION: Baltimore, Maryland (2.04-mile, 13-turn road course)
SERIES: IZOD IndyCar Series
PAGENAUD: 12th (No Time/Speed)
POLE WINNER: Will Power (1:17.9750 seconds at 94.184 mph)