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Hunter-Reay, Honda Snare Pole at Sonoma

  • Ryan Hunter-Reay leads all-Honda front row in Sonoma Raceway qualifying
  • Championship leader Scott Dixon to start second
  • Title contender Alexander Rossi qualifies sixth

Ryan Hunter-Reay led the way for Honda in qualifying action today at Sonoma Raceway, claiming the pole for Sunday's season finale – and championship deciding – INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma. 

Hunter-Reay led all three rounds of Verizon IndyCar Series "knockout" qualifying to claim his first pole at Sonoma Raceway, and his first IndyCar Series pole since the 2014 Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Scott Dixon, who came into the final race weekend leading the championship by 29 points (598-569) over Alexander Rossi, will start on the outside of the front row, second, as the veteran seeks his fifth career IndyCar Series drivers' championship for Chip Ganassi Racing.  Dixon's primary rival for the title, Rossi, will start sixth in his Andretti Autosport Honda.

Josef Newgarden and Will Power also remain mathematically in title contention.  The former advanced to the final "Fast Six" round and qualified third, while the latter will start seventh.

Former Sonoma winner Marco Andretti qualified fourth, his best qualifying effort since claiming the pole at Detroit in June and giving Honda four of the top six starting spots.  Sunday's 85-lap Drivers' Championship-deciding race starts at 6:30 p.m. EDT, live on the NBC Sports Network.

Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport Honda) pole qualifier, seventh career IndyCar Series pole, first pole since Long Beach 2014: "It was a shootout, right to the last minute. This #28 DHL Honda team did just such a good job putting a great car under me. It's nice to finally get the pole at Sonoma, because we've been knocking on the door for it for years. We just put our heads together and made a fast race car today. And yes, we would be in title contention today if we didn't have five DNFs [race retirements], but all-in-all, it's been a pretty positive season. We've been in contention everywhere we go, so hats off to these guys putting a great car under me, and I was able to put a lap together when it counted."

Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Qualified second, fourth front-row start of 2018: "I think we definitely had a shot to put the PNC Bank car on pole today, but we'll have to chalk that up to driver error. I had a lap going that would have gotten the pole, but I made a mistake and it cost us. Congrats to Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti [Autosport]. We've had a fast car all weekend here at Sonoma, and we've stayed at the pointy end of the field since we unloaded. Hopefully, that will continue in the race tomorrow and we can finish the season strong."

Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport Honda) Qualified sixth: "I don't think going out on the [primary, harder-compound Firestone] 'Blacks' was the right call [for the final qualifying round].  But we were trying to stay aggressive, and capitalize in areas where we think we can. We decided to try something different and see where it got us. This race is 85 laps, so we'll make sure we build a good race car. I don't see us starting behind Dixon as that big an issue.  We just need to make sure we build a good race car and make sure we do the best job that we can and extract the most out of the #27. It will be difficult without the warm-up tomorrow. We'll make sure we make the right decisions to have a fast race car. We have really good teammates around us and in front of us, so we'll lean on them to help build a fast car for tomorrow."

Verizon IndyCar Series Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma Circuit: Sonoma Raceway (2.385-mile road course), Sonoma, Calif. 2017 Winner: Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) 104.968 mph average Weather: Sunny, mild, windy, 72 degrees F

Top-12 Qualifying Results:

Ps.

Driver      

Team

Manufacturer

Best Time

Notes

  1.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Andretti Autosport

Honda

1:17.6277

110.194 mph

  2.

Scott Dixon

Chip Ganassi Racing

Honda

1:17.7599

+0.1322 seconds

  3.

Josef Newgarden

Team Penske

Chevrolet

1:17.7937

Fast Six Final Qualifying

  4.

Marco Andretti

Andretti Autosport

Honda

1:17.7999

Fast Six Final Qualifying

  5.

Patricio O’Ward-R

Harding Racing

Chevrolet

1:17.9737

Fast Six Final Qualifying

  6.

Alexander Rossi

Andretti Autosport

Honda

1:18.0019

Fast Six Final Qualifying

  7.

Will Power

Team Penske

Chevrolet

1:17.6495

2nd Round Qualifying

  8.

Simon Pagenaud

Team Penske

Chevrolet

1:17.7489

2nd Round Qualifying

  9.

Graham Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Honda

1:17.9043

2nd Round Qualifying

10.

Zach Veach-R

Andretti Autosport

Honda

1:17.9111

2nd Round Qualifying

11.

Sebastien Bourdais

DCR with Vasser-Sullivan     

Honda

1:17.9242

2nd Round Qualifying

12.

Takuma Sato

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Honda

1:17.9919

2nd Round Qualifying

Other Honda Results

13.

Pietro Fittipaldi-R

Dale Coyne Racing                

Honda

1:18.5281

1st Round, Group 1

14.

Ed Jones

Chip Ganassi Racing            

Honda

1:18.5088

1st Round, Group 2

15.

James Hinchcliffe

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Honda

1:18.5740

1st Round, Group 1

16.

Jack Harvey-R

Meyer Shank Racing

Honda

1:18.5892

1st Round, Group 2

20.

Santino Ferrucci-R

Dale Coyne Racing                

Honda

1:18.6172

1st Round, Group 2

22.

Carlos Munoz

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Honda

1:18.7211

1st Round, Group 2

 

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