On his final lap of the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session, Ryan Hunter-Reay laid down a lap of 1 minute, 7.8219 seconds to score the pole for the 40th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.It marks the sixth career pole for the driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda and his first pole award since Mid-Ohio in 2013. Hunter-Reay also is the only driver this season to make the Firestone Fast Six for both races.
The 2010 Long Beach winner finished second last week at St. Petersburg and felt that the work that his Andretti Autosport team put in during hte off-season switching from Chevrolet to Honda would pay off this year.
Hunter-Reay will be joined on the front row by teammate James Hinchcliffe, who qualified his No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda, 0.1184 seconds off of Hunter-Reay. Hinchcliffe is looking for a solid run after a poor showing two weeks ago at St. Petersburg as a result of mechanical issues throughout the race.
KVSH Racing’s Sebastian Bourdais will start third as he looks for his fourth win on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street circuit. He will be joined in row two by Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden. Rookie Jack Hawksworth qualified fifth with Simon Pagenaud sixth. Pagenaud led the Friday practice sessions.
Defending series champion Scott Dixon qualified seventh, followed by Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Justin Wilson, Carlos Munoz and Oriol Servia. Of note, there was only one Team Penske and one Target-Chip Ganassi Racing car in the top 12 with neither of them making it to the Firestone Fast Six.
Last week’s race winner Will Power failed to qualify for the second round of qualifying for only the second-time ever in his career as he missed round two by 0.0191 of a second. Power missed Q2 in Sao Paulo last year when he qualified 22nd.
Defending race winner Takuma Sato will start 15th as a result of a poor qualifying effort, and being penalized his two quickest laps as a result of qualifying interference in round one, group one qualifying. Juan Pablo Montoya suffered slight damage to his car after he got into the wall a bit near the end of qualifying. He qualified 16th.
The 80-lap race is scheduled to take place on April 13 at 4 p.m. EST with NBCSN showing the race live.
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Starting Line-up:
Row 1: Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe
Row 2: Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden
Row 3: Jack Hawksworth (R), Simon Pagenaud
Row 4: Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti
Row 5: Helio Castroneves, Justin Wilson
Row 6: Carlos Munoz (R), Oriol Servia
Row 7: Tony Kanaan, Will Power
Row 8: Takuma Sato, Juan Pablo Montoya
Row 9: Mike Conway, Ryan Briscoe
Row 10: Charlie Kimball, Mikhail Aleshin (R)
Row 11: Carlos Huertas (R), Sebastian Saavedra
Row 12: Graham Rahal