IndyCar championship leader Will Power set himself up for a repeat of his dominant 2009 Edmonton victory by topping qualifying at the Canadian airport track.
There was no stopping the Australian in the session, which remained dry despite storm warnings and some extremely foreboding black clouds over the circuit. Power was fastest in his group stage, quickest again in the top 12 segment, and then only very briefly headed by teammate Helio Castroneves in the Fast Six pole battle.
Castroenves retained second, 0.0764sec behind Power. But Penske could not repeat the 1-2-3 formation it displayed in two of the three practice sessions, as Ryan Briscoe was slightly off his teammates' pace and will start fifth behind Ganassi duo Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.
KV's EJ Viso was the only man able to join the Penske/Ganassi group in the Fast Six, but could nto get among them in the crucial session, leaving him sixth.
Simona de Silvestro was the star of the session, topping her group and then taking a career-best seventh on the grid. Although the draws for the group stages were slightly uneven – with all three Penske drivers and Franchitti in a ferociously tough group one – she still had to beat Dixon and three Andretti cars in group two, and once into the top 12 session, de Silvestro only missed the pole shoot-out by a tenth of a second.
None of the Andretti Autosport drivers reached the top six, with Ryan Hunter-Reay the best of the quartet in eighth. Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick both failed to get beyond their groups, while Tony Kanaan will start on the back row having damaged his car before he could set a time.
Last week's Toronto polesitter Justin Wilson was only ninth this time, three places ahead of his Dreyer & Reinbold team-mate Tomas Scheckter. Raphael Matos (De Ferran Dragon) and Hideki Mutoh, the sole Newman/Haas driver again with Edmonton not on Graham Rahal's limited schedule, split them in 10th and 11th.
The competitiveness of group one meant several big names missed out on the top 12. KV's Takuma Sato and Paul Tracy both looked set to progress at times, but were pushed back outside the top six, so will start 13th and 15th respectively. Conquest rookie Mario Romancini had the same experience – getting among the Penske drivers for a while in group one before eventually tumbling back to ninth in the group, 17th on the overall grid.
Pos Driver Team Time Session
1. Will Power Penske 1m00.7126s Fast six
2. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m00.7890s Fast six
3. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m01.2394s Fast six
4. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m01.2481s Fast six
5. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m01.3798s Fast six
6. EJ Viso KV 1m01.6122s Fast six
7. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1m01.5437s Top 12
8. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m01.5596s Top 12
9. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 1m01.5887s Top 12
10. Raphael Matos De Ferran Dragon 1m01.7915s Top 12
11. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas 1m02.1935s Top 12
12. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold 1m02.8751s Top 12
13. Takuma Sato KV 1m01.9181s Group 1
14. Mario Moraes KV 1m02.1323s Group 2
15. Paul Tracy KV 1m02.3263s Group 1
16. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m02.1465s Group 2
17. Mario Romancini Conquest 1m02.4191s Group 1
18. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 1m02.2203s Group 2
19. Alex Tagliani FAZZT 1m02.5240s Group 1
20. Bertrand Baguette Conquest 1m02.5193s Group 2
21. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m02.5795s Group 1
22. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m02.7396s Group 2
23. Vitor Meira AJ Foyt 1m02.7511s Group 1
24. Tony Kanaan Andretti Group 2
25. Milka Duno Dale Coyne Group 1