Sato Speeds To IndyCar Pole In Crash-Riddled Day At Pocono Raceway

Takuma Sato celebrates his Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. [Photo by: Chris Owens]

Marco Andretti looks down pit lane from his No. 27 UFD Honda prior to practice for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. [Photo by: Chris Owens]

by Joe Jennings

In a crash-riddled day at Pocono Raceway, Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato saved the fastest run to last, blasting around the 2.5-mile oval at a speed of 219.679 miles per hour to gain the pole for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500, a Verizon IndyCar Series event.

Driving one of four Andretti Autosport Honda-powered entries, Sato gained his seventh career pole.
“I’m really happy. I always enjoy the track in the past years, although I didn’t have a win all the time here but I always enjoy it. That’s why putting down on pole here is something very special, especially after Indy 500, coming to another 500 race, with entire crew from the 26 did an outstanding job. Have to say big thank you to Michael and all Andretti Autosport. I am very happy.

“We try to get the great points coming out here because I think superspeedway, Andretti Autosport have great history, great start. There’s certainly no reason why challenging for the winning tomorrow’s race. I don’t want to think about too much for the double 500 win. 500 race, it’s so long. As you seen today’s qualify, anything can happen. I think not only my teammates, but also other drivers have challenging issues today, because of wind direction, because we trim so much.

“Ryan’s (Hunter-Reay) moment made my nervous because he was just in front of me. We share a lot of parts and philosophy on the car. So it’s directly expecting what he has is what I have.

“Alexander (Rossi) came me before the qualifying, he give me what he felt in lap one to lap two, turn one to turn three. We had to deal with the weight jackers, had to really work on that. Everything was proactive. I was able to put down a great lap, and I really have to say thank you to all my team.”

Sato’s pole run came just after teammate Hunter-Reay crashed hard during his qualification attempt. Hunter-Reay limped from his car complaining of an injured hip and it isn’t known whether he will be able to race tomorrow.

Helio Castroneves crashed hard during qualifications but was able to walk away.

During a morning practice session, rookie Ed Jones had a minor incident and veteran driver Ed Carpenter had a moderate incident. The latter’s team made hasty repairs but they missed being ready to qualify by six minutes, so they will start in the back of the 22-car field.

Series champion Simon Pagenaud missed the pole by .09 seconds, attaining a 2-lap average speed of 219.395 mph.

Said Pagenaud, “I’m quite satisfied. Front row start is really good, our best start here in Pocono. A 500-mile race, so a lot can happen. Today was pretty much ego day trying to get that pole position. For us it would have been nice to get another point. But overall I think we did our best and we’ll go to bed pretty satisfied with today. Tonight we’re just going to work again on the racecar and try to find even more balance in it to be good in traffic.”

Chip Ganassi teammates Charlie Kimball and Tony Kanaan were next in line followed by 2016 winner Will Power and Alexander Rossi.

Trailing the fastest six were Graham Rahal, a surprising Gabby Chaves, Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

Honda powered seven of the top-10 cars.

Series point leader Josef Newgarden had an off-day, timing only 14th fastest.

The ABC Supply 500 will be telecast Sunday on the NBCSN starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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