LONG BEACH, Calif. (Saturday, April 12, 2014) — John Cote photo — Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified second for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2010, ’11 and ’13 with one victory to represent the efforts. On April 13, he’ll start the 40th annual race on the temporary street circuit from the inside of the front row.
Hunter-Reay earned the Verizon P1 Award by pipping Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe on his final lap of the Firestone Fast Six session with a lap of 1 minute, 7.8219 seconds on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn course. Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 27 United Fiber & Data car, was .1184 of a second back after completing the 10-minute session.
“It just comes down to this team giving me what I need when I need it,” said Hunter-Reay, who registered his sixth Indy car pole and the 30th for Andretti Autosport in the No. 28 DHL car. “What a qualifying session. You never knew who was going to put in the best lap; it was anybody’s session. It’s a good start for us, but tomorrow is going to be challenging. We have the standing start and a long day on the beach. We’ve been on the outside pole so many times here and final got the big one.”
Five teams were represented in the Firestone Fast Six, and 1-6 were separated by .2513 of a second.
“The United Fiber & Data car has been quick all weekend in practice,” Hinchcliffe said. “You never know what’s going to happen when you put on those Firestone Reds, though, especially when you only drive them for the first time here in qualifying. The guys did a great job – the car was awesome.
“I haven’t been in a ton of these Firestone Fast Sixes, and I’m learning what to do on the second stint on the Firestone Reds so that’s a good trade. For us to be front row, I’m happy about, but I’m looking for that first pole. I’ve been so close so many times, but if you’re going to lose it, I’m glad it’s to a teammate, so congrats to Ryan (Hunter-Reay).”
Sebastien Bourdais, a three-time winner of the race, held the provisional pole with a minute left in the session in the No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing car. He’ll occupy Row 2 with third-year Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing driver Josef Newgarden. Rookie Jack Hawksworth, driving the No. 98 Charter/Castrol Edge car for BHA/BBM with Curb Agajanian, and Simon Pagenaud in the No. 77 Charter Communications car for Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports qualified on Row 3.
Will Power, a three-time pole sitter and two-time winner at Long Beach, had his streak of qualifying in the top 10 on road and street circuits end at 10 when he was .0191 of a second behind Hawkswoth in Group 2 of Session 1. Power, who won the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., after starting fourth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, will start 14th.
Takuma Sato, who won the 2013 race, incurred a qualifying interference penalty in Session 1 (negating his quickest two laps) and will start 15th.