Will Power's hopes of taking another slice out of Dario Franchitti's points lead were given a boost after he claimed his second IZOD IndyCar Series pole position in as many weekends at the Baltimore street circuit.
Power took the top spot with a 1:20.2447 effort that was around 0.6sec quicker than he managed in practice this morning. The Ganassi team again proved to be his main threat, but this time it was Graham Rahal who came closest, the American missing Power's time by 0.1sec.
"The final run was absolutely everything I had in me and it was exhausting," said Power, who is now 25 points behind Franchitti. "I think that securing the pole position is an advantage here because you don't have to worry about trying to pass, and since it is a street circuit there can be a lot of yellows.
"We are going to try to lead as many laps as we can and gain the points we need for the championship. We have to keep chipping away at it."
"I had a good run going and my team told me where Will Power was on the tracker and they thought he would jump ahead of us," said Rahal, who had a best lap of 1:20.3238. "I let the tires cool off and tried to take a lap to get it back where we wanted it. I went into the chicane and came out and it wasn't that pretty. I lost some time there, but overall it was a good performance for the Service Central team."
Penske's Ryan Briscoe will start from third ahead of Franchitti, who almost missed out on even making an appearance in the final phase of qualifying after spinning on his last lap during the opening session while sitting on the bump spot in sixth. Fortunately for the Target Chip Ganassi driver, no one behind him improved their time, although James Jakes (Dale Coyne Racing) came within just 0.016sec of causing a major upset.
The opening sessions were also fraught for KV's Takuma Sato, who was stripped of his two quickest laps for triggering full-course yellows by spinning and stalling at the Turn 3 hairpin. Both of the laps that the Japanese driver had struck off would have been good enough to see him through to the final part of qualifying, but he will instead be forced to start from the rear of the grid.
A good performance from Sebastien Bourdais was rewarded with fifth for Dale Coyne Racing, the Frenchman qualifying just ahead of Andretti's Ryan Hunter-Reay and Penske's Helio Castroneves. EJ Viso (KV), Mike Conway (Andretti) and Scott Dixon (Ganassi) completed the top 10.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Will Power Penske 1m20.2447s
2. Graham Rahal Ganassi 1m20.3238s + 0.0791s
3. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m20.7023s + 0.4576s
4. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m20.7118s + 0.4671s
5. Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne 1m20.9725s + 0.7278s
6. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m21.0095s + 0.7648s
7. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m20.8503s Part 2
8. Mike Conway Andretti 1m20.9078s Part 2
9. EJ Viso KV 1m20.9416s Part 2
10. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m21.0617s Part 2
11. Tony Kanaan KV 1m21.3764s Part 2
12. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1m21.7382s Part 2
13. James Jakes Dale Coyne 1m21.6046s Group 1
14. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m21.9707s Group 2
15. Giorgio Pantano Dreyer & Reinbold 1m21.6857s Group 1
16. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas 1m21.9856s Group 2
17. James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas 1m21.7882s Group 1
18. Charlie Kimball Ganassi 1m22.3963s Group 2
19. JR Hildebrand Panther 1m22.0232s Group 1
20. Martin Plowman AFS/Sam Schmidt 1m22.5638s Group 2
21. Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt 1m22.1596s Group 1
22. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 1m22.9070s Group 2
23. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m22.8926s Group 1
24. Tomas Scheckter Sam Schmidt Dragon 1m22.9769s Group 2
25. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m23.0159s Group 1
26. Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 1m23.4736s Group 2
27. Ed Carpenter Sarah Fisher 1m24.5361s Group 1
28. Takuma Sato KV 1m25.3139s Group 2