LEEDS, Ala.—Despite optimism on the part of both Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly after a satisfying round of practice on Friday, qualifying did not go as expected today at the
picturesque Barber Motorsports Park just outside of Birmingham. Munoz and Daly qualified 16th and 20th respectively for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama in their ABC Supply Chevrolets.
Munoz posted a time of 1 minute, 7.7007 seconds (122.303 mph) in the latter part of the first round of qualifying but it was not quick enough to transfer into the Top 12. “We made some changes at the end and it didn’t work as we expected,” Munoz said afterwards. “But we learned from it and we’ll go back over the changes we did. IndyCar is like that--if you don’t put everything together you won’t be in the top six. Our group was pretty tough but I think we have a better race car than qualifying car. So we have to keep working, it’s a long race tomorrow and anything can happen.”
Conor Daly, who was pretty happy with his car after Friday’s practice when he was 14th overall (just behind Munoz), only got two hot laps in this morning’s practice as electronic issues prevented him from getting on track for any length of time. The issues weren’t sorted out until the last five minutes of the 45-minute session.
In qualifying, Daly posted a time of 1 minute, 8.0104 seconds (121.746 mph). He will start alongside his future Indy 500 teammate Zach Veach, who made his IndyCar debut at this track as a last minute replacement for J.R. Hildebrand, who broke his hand at Long Beach.
“I think we would have had a pretty good lap had we not caught Helio [Castroneves] on our best lap there,” Daly said. “It is what it is; we caught a little traffic which is a shame because I think we could have shown a little better than we did.”
Team Penske took the top three spots with Will Power setting the pace with his lap time of 1 minute, 6.9614 seconds (123.653 mph). Completing the Firestone Fast Six were: Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe.
With rain expected overnight and in the morning during the time of the final warm-up for the IndyCars, it will be interesting to see the approach of the teams since the rain is predicted to be gone by race time and the temperatures will have dropped into the 60s, far cooler than the high 70s and low 80s of the first two days here.
The race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network starting at 3 p.m. ET. The radio broadcast will be on Sirius XM radio on the following channels: Sirius 212, XM 209, SXM 970.