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Qualifying Report: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio—Despite a positive test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last week which saw Tony Kanaan second quickest out of the 13 cars that tested, the setup didn’t work when the team returned to the 2.258-mile park-like road course this weekend. And it was true for nearly every team that tested. Such is the challenge of Mid-Ohio!

Through three practice sessions which saw more cars spin off track (including ours) due to the lower downforce of this year’s aero kit and overall lack of grip, Kanaan and Matheus Leist struggled to find the elusive sweet spot on the ABC Supply Chevrolets.

For qualifying, the team made even more changes to the setups. For Kanaan, the changes were in the right direction.

“We tried something different,” Kanaan explained. “I think we made an improvement, we went quicker than we’ve ever been but it wasn’t quick enough. I think we had a car to start in the top 14 but we missed that by a tenth. We made more than 12 changes to the car between the last session to this session, so it was kind of unknown. Now it’s time to try to figure out what we’re going to do for the race.”

Kanaan will start 19th with a lap time of 1 minute, 6.052 seconds (123.067mph) in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet.

Leist, on his fastest lap of the weekend in this morning’s practice session spun off course and hit the tire barrier resulting in right rear suspension damage. The team worked hard to get the car repaired in time. In qualifying, there was an issue with shifting (a result of the crash) which was quickly solved by replacing the steering wheel (which contains the paddle shifters). However, it reduced Leist’s time on track to half of the normal 10 minute session.

He posted a lap of 1 minute, 6.7354 seconds (121.806 mph) in his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet which will put him directly behind Kanaan on the grid in 21st spot. Leist was succinct in his post-qualifying comment, saying, “It was a tough qualifying. We need to do better for the race.”

Alexander Rossi won the pole with a lap time of 1 minute, 4.6802 seconds (125.677mph). Rounding out the Firestone Fast 6 were: Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, Robert Wickens and Max Chilton.

The 90-lap race will be broadcast on CNBC tomorrow starting at 3 p.m. ET with the green flag being waved at 3:42 p.m. ET. It will re-air on NBC Sports Network starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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