Surprising IndyCar Qualifications could Foreshadow Unpredictable Race Results at Long Beach

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The mostly Chevy-powered Firestone Fast 6 was disrupted by the roar of a single Honda engine in yesterday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach qualifications, courtesy of Andretti Autosport driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Hunter-Reay makes his 10th career start at Long Beach tomorrow, being no stranger to success on these streets. He started from the pole last year and won the race in 2010. Hunter-Reay was in good form yesterday and feeling confident after qualifying, joking during the post-race press conference with Verizon P1 Award winner, Helio Castroneves,

“Congrats to Helio on the pole; I think he won the pole here back in ’86 or something like that (haha!) No, no, like 13 years ago, but that’s a testament to how talented he is. We’re making steps on this Honda aero package and I think we just keep chipping away at it like this and we’ll be able to close that gap.”

Hunter-Reay’s comments mirrored those of Graham Rahal earlier in the weekend, when he mentioned that starting at the top in the beginning of the season doesn’t mean you’re going to stay there. Honda is making good progress to level the racing field and Rahal believes it’s going to be a “dog fight until the end”. I like hearing this because predictability is something that IndyCar has not been associated with for the past 3 seasons in particular and I don’t know anyone that wants that to change. The series needs the product to stay top-notch with competitiveness and a runaway situation by a single team or driver does not engage fans. In actuality, predictability in motorsports is a sure way to bore and lose fans.

Will Power is one of the first examples this season, that the unpredictability of the Verizon IndyCar Series is staying alive and well. Power was preparing to finish what would have been his fastest lap in the first segment of qualifications when a red flag was drawn by Stefano Coletti of KVSH Racing during Group 2 track time. Coletti made contact with the wall in Turn 5 with only 1 minute left to go, leaving Power with no option but to slow and observe the red, meaning he would not advance to segment two. This quick series of events ultimately landed him on the grid at P18.

0417151650b-1Power is not easily intimidated and he took the result in stride, commenting that he’d have traffic to contend with on raceday and sounding surprisingly relaxed – a different attitude from Power than in past seasons, where he would sound quite stressed and almost spiteful about such a situation. This new Will Power, the one who achieved his goal of being an IndyCar Series Champion, has been a breath of fresh air this season; I’ve heard positive remarks about his new demeanor from inside and outside the paddock – folks are taking note of him in the best possible way.

I think today could be really interesting given that we are so used to seeing Power dominate the field and leading everyone through the turns; getting to watch him battle his way through the rows and fight for each position with his fellow series-mates has the potential to provide one heck of a show for fans, both here at the track and those watching from the comfort of home.

Make sure you tune in to the live race broadcast on NBC Sports at 1:00 pm PT (4:00 pm ET), download the IndyCar 15 app to ride-along with drivers during the race, through the Google Play or Apple stores if you are a Verizon Wireless customer and always follow along online with IndyCar Race Control for the latest on lap times, standings and more!