Hinchcliffe also had an impressive qualification run and will drive his GoDaddy.com machine from the outside of the front row.
“We’ve been battling understeer in Turn 1 all week long and all week in testing,” Hinchcliffe said. “I told my engineer if we have to lift in Turn 1, we’re going to be slow. And then I was loose. I had a big moment in Turn 1 and had to lift. Andretti Autosport, 1-2-3, it’s incredible.
“It’s Pocono, Andretti on pole, Andretti Autosport on front row – you couldn’t write a better story than that.”
Row 2 features some outstanding storylines including Team Penske driver Will Power, who starts on the inside after a two lap average of 220.286 mph. Tony Kanaan – the driver attempting to win the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Award worth $1 million if he can win all three Triple Crown races – starts in the middle with a two-lap average of 219.625 mph.
“They don’t call it the Tricky Triangle for nothing,” Kanaan said. “I was going for the pole and it didn’t stick. When I came here last week, and I did my first 20 laps, I said there’s no way we’re going flat in Turn 1 here. And obviously we did. It’s exciting. I think I came up to speed too quick. My fault. The Sunoco car is pretty good this weekend, so we’re going for the Triple Crown. I’m excited to be here at Pocono; it’s my first time. It’s nice to see how many race car fans we have in this part of the world. I’m glad you guys are here, and we’ll go for it tomorrow, for sure.
“It’s a 400-mile race. The Andretti guys were strong for the entire season. If you look at their Indy 500 effort, I don’t expect anything less. I don’t think I had anything for him today for pole. This race is a 400-mile race. I don’t think you can pick a favorite yet. They did a great job putting three cars in the top three. But it’s a 400-mile race.”
Kanaan is also a fan of the three-wide start, especially at Pocono because the frontstraight is wider than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which could produce some jockeying for position heading into Turn 1.
“I think it’s part of the Triple Crown thing,” Kanaan said. “We only do it once per year. Being in a 400-mile race, I hope we respect each other. This straightaway, it’s longer than Indy. It’s wide. I don’t see a problem doing it. But it’s definitely going to be different. We can’t get greedy. We have to respect each other. It’s going to be difficult. My boss tells me all the time, that’s why I get paid the big bucks.”
Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves rounds out row two with a two-lap average of 219.581 mph.
“Now, qualifying sixth is pretty good for the Hitachi Team Penske car,” Castroneves said. “Maybe we were a little too conservative in our qualifying set up, but that’s OK. I know the car has been very fast and very smooth all weekend and I think we will be strong for the race. This track is very interesting and it’s going to be pretty exciting starting three-wide on Sunday. We’re looking forward to a good race and hopefully a strong finish in the Hitachi Chevrolet.”
Chevrolet engines powered the top six drivers in qualifications but Honda swept row three with Scott Dixon on the inside at 219.500 mph, Takuma Sato in the middle at 219.124 mph and Simon Pagenaud on the outside at 218.859 mph.
“I think that qualifying run was about what we thought it would be, which was a few miles per hour off of the Chevrolet,” Dixon said. “The other manufacturer is fast but we have a good car and I love the balance of it. We’re trimmed as much as we can be and we just put in the latest Honda engine. I can feel some difference in it but not enough to be where we need to be right now. This is such a cool place here in Pocono and I really love driving this track. The fans are amazing and I’m looking forward to a competitive event Sunday.”
Two drivers crashed on their qualification attempts including Andretti Autosport driver E.J. Viso and Alex Tagliani. Both drivers stuffed it into the Turn 1 wall but were unhurt. Those three drivers will start in Row 8 with Viso on the inside, Ryan Briscoe in the middle and Tagliani on the outside. Briscoe did not qualify but he did win the pole for Saturday’s ALMS race at Lime Rock, Connecticut.