LEXINGTON, Ohio – It was a wild frantic final minute of qualifications in the Firestone Fast Six as the top spot changed positions four times in the last moments before Sebastien Bourdais of France claimed the pole for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Verizon IndyCar Series race.
The four-time Champ Car Series champion who won his first race in the combined Verizon IndyCar Series two weeks ago at Toronto laid down a fast time in a Chevrolet of 1:24.1610 around the 13-turn, 2.258 mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Saturday’s qualifications began on a wet race course and ended on one that was damp. Some drivers briefly thought about going to the dry racing slicks but there were too many areas of the track that weren’t dry. Because of that it was the slowest IndyCar Series qualification session in Mid-Ohio history.
“We were really happy with the car on old tires and couldn’t get anything on the new tires,” Bourdais said. “I was a little unsure what we would face if it were not dry during qualifying. We didn’t change anything for qualifying so when rain arrived it threw everything up in the air.
“I’m just happy it worked out.”
It was Bourdais’ second Verizon P1 Award of 2014 and the 33rd of his career – tying Dario Franchitti for seventh all time.
Josef Newgarden, who twice had the pole during the “Fast Six,” made one last attempt to surpass Bourdais but fell just short with a time of 1:24.6787 in a Honda.
It matches his career-best second-place starting position (Texas earlier this year and Long Beach 2012). And stands as his best on a road/street course.
“I think the rain actually helped spread everyone out because it was so tight,” Newgarden said. “I was actually glad it rained because of that.”
Tony Kanaan, the hottest driver in IndyCar over the last month, qualified third in a Chevrolet at 1:25.0290 and is attempting to give team owner Chip Ganassi his first IndyCar Series win of 2014. It’s his fourth top-five start of 2014.
“We struggled over the last two days a little bit,” Kanaan said. “The rain helped us. We kept it on the track. It was extremely slippery out there. It got dry and I attempted to go to slicks. Track position is important here so third is not bad.
“I thought about getting on slicks because the first part of the track was fairly dry. I was behind Ryan and Carlos at the time and thought about going on slicks. But as I as I thought about that I almost lost it. The only way it would have worked would be if you left the pits on slicks and let them get warm.”