Takuma Sato wins pole for Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
It will be an all-Rahal Letterman Lanigan front row tomorrow when the green flag waves for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park (4 pm E.T. Sunday on NBCSN).
Takuma Sato won the pole for the race after posting a lap time of 1 minute, 8.5934 seconds in the closing moments of the Firestone Fast Six. Sato’s teammate, Graham Rahal, will start second thanks to his time of 1 minute, 8.6971 seconds.
“This is a dream result”, Sato told NBCSN after winning his first pole since Pocono in 2017. “Today we got everything together. This is absolutely a team effort, so I am really happy with the whole team.”
“Black [primary] tires and red [alternate] tires had similar performance yesterday, but today, clearly the red tire was faster. I did actually try the black tire during the Fast 6 to see if I could go faster, but the red tire was much faster. In the end, I’m happy with my lap”.
Though Rahal was more than happy to start on the front row with his teammate, the driver of the No. 15 Honda believed he could’ve claimed the pole had he not made an error near the end of the Fast 6.
"…Honestly, I threw it away in Turn 5. I went into 5 and accidentally knocked it down into first gear instead of second. It cost me a lot on the entry, it cost a lot on the power down - it won’t put power down in first gear. I hurt myself a little bit, but overall, I’m super excited for Takuma,” Rahal told NBCSN.
“I think this team has done a tremendous job in the offseason. We’ve worked extremely hard, and we’ve heard all about how we can’t do it and we’re not competitive, and all this stuff. And it adds fuel to the fire. I’m really proud of our organization. It’s not necessarily a reflection of Takuma and I, it’s everybody else here that puts a lot of effort in to make our [car] go fast.”
Scott Dixon (1 minute, 8.8081 seconds) qualified in the third position, with James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais and Spencer Pigot rounding out the Fast 6.
Team Penske was uncharacteristically off-pace in qualifying, with no driver making the Fast Six. Will Power qualified seventh, his worst start at Barber since 2012. Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden fared even worse; Pagenaud qualified 14th, and Newgarden, seeking his third consecutive win at Barber, qualified a disappointing 16th.