Ryan Hunter-Reay claims first 2013 Verizon P1 Award at Honda Indy GP of Alabama

Ryan Hunter-Reay earned his first Verizon P1 Award of the 2013 season by capturing the pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 7.The reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion recorded a lap of 1:07.0871 in the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet to earn his third pole of his Indy car career. Will Power, the race winner the past two years, will join Hunter-Reay on the front row.Hunter-Reay's pole was just part of the story in a dramatic qualifying session on the 2.3-mile road course that saw Scott Dixon blitz the track record by more than 3 seconds in the first of the three rounds.Takuma Sato, who appeared to qualify for Firestone Fast Six for the second consecutive race, was penalized for interference in Round 2 and was credited with qualifying 12th (a drop of at least six positions). Rookie Tristan Vautier was called back to pit lane to participate in the 10-minute session and qualified a career-best third.Charlie Kimball advanced to the Firestone Fast Six for the first time and posted his career-best starting position of fifth, while AJ Allmendinger qualified 11th in his IZOD IndyCar Series debut.Also on April 6, Carlos Munoz set a Firestone Indy Lights track record to win the Sunoco Pole Award for the Legacy Indy Lights 100.Munoz turned a lap of 1:13.8509 with 17 minutes left in the 45-minute session. Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian's Jack Hawksworth moved to P2 -- .1150 of a second behind -- with 8 minutes left and improved his lap time to close to .0898 of a second behind Munoz with 1:30 left.DAY 2 NOTEBOOKEntry update:Car name for #18 Beatriz is now Ipiranga***This weekend, the four Chip Ganassi Racing Teams cars racing at Barber Motorsports Park in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Grand-Am races as well as the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars at Martinsville Speedway have partnered with Novo Nordisk for the Race with Insulin Unites initiative, which is designed to show that with the right management plan and team support, individuals can get their diabetes on track."If our team can help others understand that even with diabetes, you can live life to the fullest, then we are glad to help," team owner Chip Ganassi said. "A program like this speaks volumes about (Kimball)."The cars are sporting blue rims and Kimball's car is sheath in a special Race with Insulin Unites paint scheme. The rims emulate a blue circle, which is the International Diabetes Federation's global symbol for diabetes.Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, is a longtime sponsor of Kimball's motorsports pursuits. It's truly a partnership, with Kimball sharing a message that despite his medical condition he's able to compete in the demanding sport."Together, we've grown our partnership from a small logo on my suit and talking about having diabetes to a full program," said Kimball, who co-drove the winning overall entry in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. "The opportunity for me to meet all sorts of great people with diabetes across the country, tell them my story and hear their stories, it reminds me that no matter how good or bad a day I have at the racetrack it's more important than just me in the race car."***Team Penske will field its third IZOD IndyCar Series car for AJ Allmendinger at the next IZOD IndyCar Series event on the streets of Long Beach.TIM CINDRIC (President, Penske Racing): (About decision to add race): "We decided we needed to get (AJ Allmendinger) more seat time. As the emotions get into it and Roger (Penske)'s commitment to the organization, we don't want to go into Indianapolis any less prepared than we can be. AJ has continued to gel with the team and it's worth the investment for us to have him run at a place where he's already run. (Barber) is a whole different place for him, and the effort you need to find that couple of tenths (of a second) is maybe different than a place like Long Beach where he's already comfortable and it's just a matter of learning the car. He's learning the car here and he's learning the track." (What about future races): "You put the plans in place and they you have to make the decision whether to pull the plug or not. We won't run him at Brazil, so it will be Long Beach and then Indianapolis, and we'll see after that." (Will there be a aponsor?): "We'll probably end up with a Penske affiliate of some kind. We're open to sponsors." (About his progression in car): "There are sections of this (Barber) track where he's actually better than (Will Power and Helio Castroneves) and they're able to feed off that. The fortunate thing is he has the first pit here, so he can focus on pulling in and out. We just want him to get laps; he's not racing for points. Anything you can do here will help in the future."AJ ALLMENDINGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): (About racing at Long Beach): "It's the same layout at least. It's not an oval (before Indianapolis), but it's more time in the car with pit stops. It's exciting; I've always missed that race since I left. Being a California native it was always a fun race to go to. Just to have another race under my belt at a place I've fairly familiar with I'm looking forward to it." (About the weekend): "I'm a little bit sore and still holding my breath a little bit in the fast corner, but it's good so far." (About opportunity with Team Penske): "Everything I've said about (Roger Penske) probably is the biggest understatement. I just feel fortunate to have a guy like that care about me so much. I'm not going to ask him why, because I don't want him to question his own mind, but I feel very lucky."QUALIFYING FOR THE VERIZON P1 AWARD:Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award consists of three segments. In Segment One of qualifying, each group receives 10 minutes of track time. The fastest six cars from each group advance to Segment Two, while the remaining cars are assigned positions 13-26. Group One drivers will occupy the odd-numbered positions (13, 15, 17...) while Group Two drivers will occupy the even-numbered positions (14, 16, 18...) based on their fastest lap times.During Segment Two, the 12 advancing cars receive 10 minutes of track time. The fastest six advance to the Firestone Fast Six Shootout while the remaining six cars are ranked in positions 7-12 based on their fastest laps.During the Firestone Fast Six, the six cars receive 10 minutes of track time, with a guarantee of five minutes of green flag time. Each car receives one additional set of Firestone Firehawk tires for use during this final segment. At the end of the session, the cars are ranked 1-6 based on their fastest laps.Any driver who causes a red flag during any of the groups will lose their two quickest laps.The time line for qualifying today is in Turn 14.At 10:15 a.m., the ambient temperature was 66 degrees with a relative humidity of 34 percent. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 87 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.Track record: Will Power, 1:09.8529 (April 2012). Fastest lap this weekend: #78 Simona de Silvestro, 1:07.4073 (Practice 2).10:25 a.m. - GREEN. Session 1, Group 1.10:35 a.m. - CHECKERED. Advancing to Segment 2 are: #9 Dixon (1:06.7750), #1 Hunter-Reay, #14 Sato, #6 Saavedra, #83 Kimball and #2 Allmendinger. Dixon's lap is a track qualifying record.10:40 a.m. - GREEN. Session 1, Group 2.10:50 a.m. - CHECKERED. Advancing to Segment 2 are: #55 Vautier, (1:07.1201) #19 Wilson #12 Power #3 Castroneves #16 Jakes and #25 Andretti.11 a.m. - GREEN. Segment 2.11:10 a.m. - CHECKERED. Segment 2.Advancing to Firestone Fast Six are: #9 Dixon (1:06.9095) #1 Hunter-Reay, #83 Kimball, #14 Sato, #12 Power and #3 Castroneves.***IZOD IndyCar Series officials have excluded #14 Sato from Firestone Fast Six for qualifying interference. He will not be allowed to participate in Firestone Fast Six. Based on the penalty, #55 Vautier will advance to Firestone Fast Six.***11:20 a.m. - GREEN. Firestone Fast Six.11:29 a.m. -- #1 Hunter-Reay sets fastest lap at 1:07.087111:30 a.m. - CHECKERED. #1 Hunter-Reay wins Verizon P1 Award.IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING NOTES: This is Ryan Hunter-Reay's first pole of 2013 and the third pole of his Indy car career. His last pole came at Edmonton in 2012. Will Power qualified second, his third front-row start in four starts here at Barber Motorsports Park. Tristan qualified third, his career-best start in the IZOD IndyCar Series. He has qualified in Firestone Fast Six in each of his series starts. Scott Dixon qualified fourth after setting a new track record of 1:06.7750 in Segment 1. Charlie Kimball qualified fifth, his best start in the IZOD IndyCar Series. His previous best start was seventh at Motegi in 2011. It was Kimball's first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six. Helio Castroneves qualified sixth, his first start outside of the front two rows here at Barber.IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "This team has done so well this weekend, we just kept progressing and we knew where we needed to work on it. I really went to work on my driving as well, and we all did it together here. It's a great position to start from and now we need to go make it work in warm up and for the race, making these Firestones hang in there for an entire race. That'll be the challenging part." (About racing at Barber): "It's a very challenging track that rewards aggressiveness, but if you step over just a little too far on set up or on driving, it'll definitely punish you. We worked on making the car better, this team has done a great job in the offseason developing our setup, and we had a great test here, three great teammates, four overall all working together in one direction. It's a good way to hopefully start our season this weekend."ORIOL SERVIA (No 22. Panther DRR Chevrolet): "I am disappointed. I really feel that we have a good car, the reds just didn't do what we expected. You basically have one lap to put it together - you miss the tire pressures or something a little bit and you're out. We need to do a better job of putting everything together, but I honestly feel like we are improving. The important thing is tomorrow - tires are going to play a big part of it so a car that is able to be consistent on older tires will be better in the race. We're starting pretty far back, but anything can happen here tomorrow."SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "My car was good, we just barely missed it in qualifying. We'll just keep digging a little deeper because we aren't far off at all. I know we'll have a good car for the race tomorrow."SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "Here the car has been decent the whole time. We have just been trying to work out some of the issues that we have had at St. Pete. This isn't the best track to do it but it gives us a bit of direction. I am a bit bummed about qualifying, you know we were fastest in Q1 and Q2 and then just a bit of missed timing, a bit on my behalf, didn't go out hard enough and then tried to expect some more from the tires later and it just wasn't there. So, I don't think we quite would have gotten a 7.0 that Ryan did, you know we did a 6.7 earlier on new tires but he did a hell of a job and putting a good lap together. You know race day is a different day and hopefully we can move up three spots".E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela/Andretti Autosport/HVM Chevrolet): "We didn't find the speed we were looking for with the red set of tires. Surprisingly we did lack a lot of grip. That was pretty much what stopped us from going faster. It has a balance, I believe we have a very strong car. But we just missed a lot of grip. Tomorrow is going to be a long race, a long day. At this point, we are not starting where we wanted. We will be working hard with the strategies and having a good race craft, making every single move on track that we can."ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): ""We had closed the gap on the guys in front of us yesterday in the second practice. But today the gap opened back up again. So that is a little disappointing and I'm frustrated with myself, to be honest. I feel like the car is pretty good. We did improve our time over Friday. But I think I needed to get a little more out of the car today. Hopefully the race will be better for us than today."AJ ALLMENDIGER (No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet): ""I wasn't as strong in the second run as I was in the first. I just didn't feel as good on the second set of tires. We made our first goal of getting out of the first round of qualifying. Making it into the top six was a pretty lofty goal, especially with it being my first time (in this format) and first time on the red (tires). It's still good to be inside the top 12. I know the IZOD Team Penske car will be good in the race, it's just a matter of me going with the flow and how I react to everything."TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Mouser KV Racing Technology-SH Racing Chevrolet): ""I'm having a hard time understanding what happened during qualifying. My car actually felt good, but when Vasser came on the radio and said I needed another tenth and a half, I thought that I heard something wrong. And on top of that the times for group two of quals were way slower than group one, which is very strange. Starting back there will make it a long day tomorrow, but I trust the #11 crew, Chevy and Firestone and we'll move forward during the race."MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet): "I left pit lane a couple minutes late because we were carrying less fuel and we knew the tires had just two good laps in them. We did a great job getting up to speed, and I got everything out of the car that I needed. It's always disappointing to finish just outside of the Fast Six, but I think we have a great car trimmed out and we will be ready for Sunday."SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): "On the reds we had a really big balance change. It was a really big difference so we'll have to try and work on that for tomorrow's warm-up and the race. I think on the blacks we were really quick; even on the older ones. Hopefully we can make up some positions. It's really frustrating to be starting more in the back, but I think we can make it happen. We'll work really hard to go to the front with the Nuclear Clean Air Energy car.TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "It's disappointing for us not to be able to show our performance in the Fast Six. We had a difficult practice session this morning but we worked on our setup and in the first two segments the car was much more connected and I was able to commit and we advanced to the Fast Six. However in the second segment I had to back off because there was a slower car in front of me at the exit of turn five. So I abandoned my qualifying lap and I tried to stretch the space. I checked my mirror on the back straight and there was no one there and then going through turns 7 and 8 which is where the elevation changes which is probably the worst place for Justin Wilson to catch me because I couldn't see anything behind me. When I was able to see that he was coming on I tried to keep my line tight and let him have the racing line. Obviously it was close but I was disappointed to be penalized."JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "We've been struggling a little bit this weekend compared to the test. We didn't have the quickest car, but had enough for Q2 got held up by another car and ended up getting knocked out. It's frustrating but we've got an extra set of reds (Firestone red alternate tires) than those guys now in the race and maybe degradation will come into it tomorrow. We'll keep fighting and hopefully get the Go Daddy car up in a good position by the end of the day."JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "It's been a really rough day for us. Things haven't really gone our way. I had a little trouble trying to find some spacing in qualifying. I don't think we're a fast six car, but we're definitely better than where we are starting tomorrow. A top 10 qualifying is what we were looking for, and I think that's probably where we were so it gives us something to look forward to tomorrow in the race." (About the strategy for the race): "Tomorrow it's going to be important for us to try and conserve and fight the battles all the way through. It's going to be a long day, it's going to be hot, hotter than what we've seen the last couple of months. I think it's going to be difficult for everyone to do long stints out there so we have to be able to fight all the way through. Everyone has been focusing on short runs and trying to get their car the optimal performance, but tomorrow is going to be all about lasting all the way through to the end."JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "I'm really upset by what happened. The No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda was really fast today. We definitely had a top three car today, possible even a pole winning one. My red tires were just coming in and I was working on a very quick lap when Sato slowed down in front of me and didn't get out of the way. That caused me to slow down and have to go around him. Once I came in into the pits I ran right to the INDYCAR trailer to see if they saw the incident. They took Sato's two fastest laps away, which was some sort of justice. I just feel bad for the crew because they have given me a pole winning car this weekend."ANA BEATRIZ (No. 18 Ipiranga Honda): "We got some work ahead of us before the race tomorrow. We will work on some changes to the car and see what they do in the morning warm up on Sunday. I know the team is doing all they can to give me a competitive car and I appreciate all their hard work this weekend. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble in the race and make up some spots for a good finish."JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "I was a little disappointed in qualifying to be honest; we thought we had a little bit more than that in the Acorn Stairlifts car. We were relatively quick on Friday and this morning we seemed to have taken a few steps back. But we are in a position where we can get a good result so we will make sure we work hard overnight, have a good strategy and get a good result for the Acorn Stairlifts team."JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "We were quite encouraged with the changes we made overnight based on how the National Guard Chevy responded this morning in practice, but both Oriol and I struggled to find the same feeling in the car this afternoon in qualifying. A positive for tomorrow is that is appears asthough our tire wear is good, but we will have to work some more as a group to achieve the maximum speed that we are looking for again. The heat is a big factor here, so we need to be ready for that in the race tomorrow."GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The Midas / Big O Tires car is not too far off. In our qualifying group, Dixon blocked me on our fast lap. Was it going to be that much better? No, probably only a tenth or two and we wouldn't have advanced based on lap times. It looks like we got the harder group because we would have been around third with our lap time in the second group and advanced. Unfortunately our group was stacked and I was P11 with a 1:07.4 and that would have put me in the top-six in Group 2 and would have advanced if we did that time there. We just have to keep our heads down and work hard for tomorrow. We will have to have an alternate strategy because you can't pass all of those cars."FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS QUALIFYINGThis is a 45-minute qualifying session, with drivers ranked by their quickest overall lap any time during the session. No limit on laps. The fastest car will win the $5,000 Sunoco Pole Award.At 9:25 a.m., the ambient temperature was 57 degrees with a relative humidity of 58 percent. Skies were sunny. The track temperature was 63 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.Track record: J.K Vernay, 1:14.8726 (April 2010). Fastest lap this weekend: #26 Carlos Munoz, 1:14.3433 (Practice 2).9:25 a.m. - GREEN.9:40 a.m. - 15 minutes into the session, fastest lap so far is #5 Dempsey with lap at 1:14.7091.9:55 a.m. - 30 minutes into the session, fastest lap so far is #26 Munoz with lap at 1:13.8509.10:06 a.m. -- #7 Chaves is off course in Turn 14. Car has made light contact with the barrier.10:08 a.m. - RED and CHECKERED. #26 Munoz has won the Sunoco Pole Award for the Legacy Indy Lights 100. #7 Chaves will lose fastest lap for causing the red flag.FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS SUNOCO POLE QUALIFYING NOTES: This is Carlos Munoz' second consecutive Sunoco Pole Award and his third pole in Firestone Indy Lights. He previously won the Sunoco Pole Award at Edmonton in 2012 and St. Petersburg last month. Jack Hawksworth qualified second, the second front-row start of his Firestone Indy Lights career. Sage Karam qualified third, his best starting position and first top-five start in Firestone Indy Lights. The top six qualifiers are separated by less than .7 of a second.FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS QUOTES:CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Dialy-Ser-Andretti Autosport): "It's been tough. It's not easy because the guys out there have been really quick. I felt comfortable since the beginning, yesterday I was first two times in practice 1 and practice 2, now in qualifying, I have to maintain that in the race. I think we have a better car for the race than for qualifying, so that's good. My team gave me a great car and I'm really happy for the second consecutive pole position." (About racing at Barber): "It's quite difficult to pass here. I think the main point of the race is that it's a long race, so the tires - last year they went away really quick so it's going to be a problem for all of us. I will have to handle the tires really well. But I think we have a really good car and hope to continue to victory tomorrow.JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson c/w Curb-Agajanian): ""So this is Barber, this is one of the two road courses that we go to in Indy Lights, it's a really, really cool track and a slot of elevation changes, a lot of smooth. We start on the start/finish straight down on Turn 1, then it slightly goes down as you turn into the first left corner, then the left hander slightly off camber and slightly downhill so its slightly off camber. Then you get a little bit of more throttle until you get into Turn 2, which is just a short chute and build up as much speed as you can to get into the corner to get yourself as far around as possible. Then on the exit you have to be really patient on the throttle because otherwise the thing is just going to want to steer so you have to be patient on the throttle. Once you get to throttle you get to throttle clean and off the corner it really seems like a never ending corner. Get a good run into the next straight and then you have a little kink in the straight then you come into the only real hard braking corner on the circuit which is Turn 5, a hairpin, a good stop of the car. Then go through Turn 6,7,8 complex and into 9 which is a real fast chicane, which is a quick, quick fast right which leads you to another chicane and then another tight right. Then down the long straight, which is flat out in qualifying but can cause a few issues in the race, as the tires get worn out it can be a little bit slippery through there. Down into the final complex, which is a left right, which has a massive dip and is kind of like being on a roller coaster really, a really tight corner where you downshift in the middle and then back on the throttle down over the hill down the fast right which is just about flat. Then heavy braking for the final right hander, which then leads you onto a left."ZACH VEACH (No. 12 K-12/Andretti Autosport): "We got caught on a little bit of bad luck today. We were sitting around P4 and P5 for most of the morning. On our first tire run, we wanted to be a little more conservative with that set to take into Long Beach. Our second run was supposed to be our big run of the day, but we got out there and the red flag came out. We didn't really get to put in the laps for that we wanted for that run, but I think that we are still in good shape. It's not where we would like to be, but we are one spot up from where we were last race. Hopefully we can keep this going into long Beach and Indy. I want to thank the guys for working so hard and K 12, because this weekend has gone really well so far."***The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the Honda Indy Grand Prix Alabama on April 7 at Barber Motorsports Park. The race will be televised live at 3 p.m. (ET) by the NBC Sports Network (Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211 and www.indycar.com. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Legacy Indy Lights 100 on April 7 at Barber Motorsport Park. The race will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network at 2 p.m. (ET) on April 7, immediately preceding the IZOD IndyCar Series race broadcast.