IndyCar 2014: Saavedra Takes First Ever Indianapolis GP Pole

Sebastian Saavedra

I didn’t expect to be sitting here, early Saturday morning, writing about Sebastian Saavedra taking the pole for today’s inaugural Indianapolis GP- and that has more to do with my take on Saavedra than the fact that I thought qualifying was today (it was yesterday) and the race was happening on Sunday (it’s happening in a few hours).

That’s not to say Sebastian Saavedra isn’t a talented driver- he wouldn’t be at Indy, if he wasn’t!- it’s just that I haven’t seen the sort of brilliance you’d expect to shine in a rain-soaked qualifying on a new track that no one has ever raced on (in an IndyCar) before. Rain-soaked and unfamiliar racetracks are often where new stars shine for the first time, however- whether it’s Stewart at the Nürburgring, Senna at Monaco, Perez at Malaysia, or … I guess Saavedra at Indy, whose previous best qualifying result was 9th place at Barber in 2013. “I love the rain,” said the Colombian driver. “It was crazy at first because we didn’t know what to expect from the track. If it was going to be wet, if it was going to be dry. We were comfortable yesterday, as it got hotter, we just needed to work a little bit more – especially with the rain. We made a huge leap (in qualifying) and then the whole session was just weird. It started to rain and went from wet, to dry, to super dry, to super wet. I loved it.”

So, yeah. The guy likes racing in the rain, it seems- and that’s usually the hallmark of a champion. We’ll get to see, later today, if he can hang on to the top spot or if he just got lucky in the chassis/tire department. As for the rest of the field starting the Indianapolis GP, they’ll be lined up like this at the start …

 

Car No. Driver Team/Engine Grid Pos.
17 Sebastian Saavedra Chevy 1
98 Jack Hawksworth (R) Chevy 2
28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Honda 3
77 Simon Pagenaud Honda 4
12 Will Power Chevy 5
9 Scott Dixon Chevy 6
11 Sebastien Bourdais Chevy 7
2 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevy 8
10 Tony Kanaan Honda 9
3 Helio Castroneves Chevy 10
27 James Hinchcliffe Honda 11
15 Graham Rahal Honda 12
25 Marco Andretti Honda 13
8 Ryan Briscoe Chevy 14
67 Josef Newgarden Honda 15
14 Takuma Sato Honda 16
18 Carlos Huertas (R) Honda 17
19 Justin Wilson Honda 18
34 Carlos Munoz (R) Honda 19
41 Martin Plowman (R) Honda 20
26 Franck Montagny Honda 21
16 Oriol Servia Honda 22
83 Charlie Kimball Chevy 23
20 Mike Conway Chevy 24
7 Mikhail Aleshin (R) Honda 25

 

… and, if it stays dry, look for the Penske trio of Will Power, former Indy winner Juan Pablo Montoya, and the “throwback” Pennzoil Chevrolet no. 3 (below, update your spotter’s guides) driven by 30-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves to power through the pack and take the top spots at the Indianapolis GP. I know it’s an easy bet, but they’re the best team in IndyCar racing for a reason.

 

Pennzoil Penske Chevrolet

UPDATE: Helio is driving the yellow submarine at the Indy 500, NOT at today’s Indianapolis GP … which is confusing as all get-out, but there it is.

Sources | Photos: IndyCar, NBC.

 

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.