Will Power continued his outstanding start to the 2010 IndyCar season by taking pole position in St. Petersburg.
Fresh from winning the season opener in Brazil two weeks ago, Power was quickest in every practice session at the Florida street track and then earned a comfortable pole. The Team Penske driver breezed through to the decisive Fast Six session and set a 1m01.7s lap on his first run of the pole shootout. None of his rivals could beat it – and Power then cemented his advantage by improving even further, to 1m01.6026s, as the checkered flag fell.
"We're still at the front, and so I'm very happy," Power said. "It's been a process. We've been working away at it and go through each session and look after our reds (tires). I came away with pole. We would have been disappointed if we didn't given our pace this weekend."
Tony Kanaan gave Andretti Autosport its first front row start since the summer of 2008 as he claimed second, 0.2771sec behind Power. Scott Dixon was third for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but his 2009 title rivals Dario Franchitti (Ganassi) and Ryan Briscoe (Penske) both had disastrous sessions and will start in 13th and 19th, respectively.
Justin Wilson gave Dreyer & Reinbold fourth on the grid, despite a brake scare, with Penske's Helio Castroneves and Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti the other two top six contenders.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) was pushed out of the Fast Six session by a last-gasp run from Castroneves, so will start seventh, alongside Alex Tagliani – who could not replicate his Sao Paulo front row start but still impressed for new team FAZZT.
EJ Viso (KV) and Mike Conway (Dreyer & Reinbold) completed the top 10, with Takuma Sato (KV) 11th ahead of Hideki Mutoh (Newman/Haas/Lanigan). Sato lost the right-rear wheel from his car on his out-lap in round two, but he came to a safe halt in a run-off area. The safety crew reattached the wheel during the consequent red flag and he was able to rejoin, but could not get off the sixth row.
Franchitti (right) and Briscoe were both eliminated in the ultra-competitive first qualifying group – failing to make it into the crucial top six despite both being within 0.4sec of session pacesetter Castroneves. Briscoe, who will start way back in 19th, felt he had used his softer red tires too soon, before track conditions were at their best, while Franchitti blamed Briscoe for impeding him.
"Briscoe had some problems of his own, and I caught him in Turn 8 and got held up. That was unfortunate," said Franchitti. "The guys made some great changes to the car, and we were pretty quick after the crash in practice yesterday."
The second qualifying group was less fraught, with Graham Rahal the highest-profile casualty in his first race for Sarah Fisher Racing. The American was briefly in the top six before being edged back to a row eight start, while HVM's rookie Simona de Silvestro came within 0.002sec of making it into the top 12 shootout.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Will Power Penske 1m01.6026s
2. Tony Kanaan Andretti 1m01.8796s
3. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m02.0820s
4. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 1m02.1991s
5. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m02.2117s
6. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m02.3461s
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m01.8979s
8. Alex Tagliani Fazzt 1m01.9692s
9. EJ Viso KV 1m01.9806s
10. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m02.0433s
11. Takuma Sato KV 1m02.4204s
12. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m02.5112s
13. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m02.1944s
14. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1m02.4483s
15. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m02.2556s
16. Graham Rahal Sarah Fisher 1m02.5043s
17. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m02.2687s
18. Mario Romancini Conquest 1m02.7366s
19. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m02.3205s
20. Mario Moraes KV 1m02.8293s
21. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m02.4904s
22. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 1m03.4793s
23. Raphael Matos de Ferran/Luczo Dragon 1m03.0144s
24. Milka Duno Dale Coyne 1m08.5057s
Round 1 - group 1:
1. Castroneves 1m01.8881s
2. Tagliani 1m02.0521s + 0.1640s
3. Wilson 1m02.0694s + 0.1813s
4. Hunter-Reay 1m02.1101s + 0.2220s
5. Viso 1m02.1253s + 0.2373s
6. Andretti 1m02.1773s + 0.2893s
7. Franchitti 1m02.1944s + 0.3063s
8. Wheldon 1m02.2556s + 0.3676s
9. Meira 1m02.2687s + 0.3807s
10. Briscoe 1m02.3205s + 0.4324s
11. Patrick 1m02.4904s + 0.6023s
12. Matos 1m03.0144s + 1.1263s
Round 1 - group 2:
1. Dixon 1m01.7912s
2. Kanaan 1m01.9093s + 0.1182s
3. Power 1m02.0439s + 0.2528s
4. Conway 1m02.1081s + 0.3169s
5. Sato 1m02.2969s + 0.5057s
6. Mutoh 1m02.4472s + 0.6561s
7. de Silvestro 1m02.4493s + 0.6581s
8. Rahal 1m02.5043s + 0.7132s
9. Romancini 1m02.7366s + 0.9454s
10. Moraes 1m02.8293s + 1.0382s
11. Lloyd 1m03.4793s + 1.6881s
12. Duno 1m08.5057s + 6.7146s
1. Power 1m01.4816s
2. Dixon 1m01.6617s + 0.1801s
3. Kanaan 1m01.8102s + 0.3287s
4. Wilson 1m01.8727s + 0.3911s
5. Andretti 1m01.8770s + 0.3955s
6. Castroneves 1m01.8965s + 0.4150s
7. Hunter-Reay 1m01.8979s + 0.4163s
8. Tagliani 1m01.9692s + 0.4876s
9. Viso 1m01.9806s + 0.4991s
10. Conway 1m02.0433s + 0.5618s
11. Sato 1m02.4204s + 0.9389s
12. Mutoh 1m02.5112s + 1.0297s
1. Power 1m01.6026s
2. Kanaan 1m01.8796s + 0.2771s
3. Dixon 1m02.0820s + 0.4794s
4. Wilson 1m02.1991s + 0.5966s
5. Castroneves 1m02.2117s + 0.6092s
6. Andretti 1m02.3461s + 0.7435s