St Petersburg IndyCar: Will Power starts season with pole
|By Mark Glendenning||Saturday, March 23rd 2013, 20:10 GMT|
Will Power will start Sunday's IndyCar season-opener in St Petersburg from pole position after triumphing in an upset-laden qualifying session on the Floridian street circuit.
The Penske driver sealed the top spot with a 1m01.2070s lap to claim the 30th pole of his career, an achievement that moves him past Dario Franchitti into seventh on the all-time list.
It was his fourth straight St Petersburg pole and he broke the track record in the process.
"I never knew you could make so many changes to a car through qualifying," said Power.
"In between each round it's kind of hard to find a balance all weekend, but it seemed very nice on used tyres. Going into the final round was kind of straightforward; just go out there and give it everything I had."
Takuma Sato gifted his new team AJ Foyt Enterprises with a front row start for their first race together by going second-fastest, while Simona de Silvestro backed up her early weekend pace by setting the third-quickest time.
"Each session went better," said de Silvestro. "We made a few changes every time, and I'm really happy with P3. It's kind of a huge relief to be in this position.
"I really have to thank everybody that's supported me through the difficult years we've had so far and to make it now into starting third for the first race of the season is pretty awesome."
James Hinchcliffe was the only Andretti driver to make it through to the Fast Six, the Canadian edging Helio Castroneves out of fourth.
Rookie Tristan Vautier completed the top six for Sam Schmidt Motorsport.
It was a tough afternoon for several of IndyCar's traditional leading lights.
Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will start his title defence from eighth on the grid after finishing up just behind Andretti team-mate Marco Andretti.
Ganassi's best hope lies with Dario Franchitti in 10th after Scott Dixon failed to progress from the first qualifying phase.
Dixon's run was compromised by some track signage left in the middle of the circuit after James Jakes glanced the wall.
For many more drivers the challenge lay in getting the most out of the new red Firestones, which were used for the first time in qualifying, and which are substantially softer than last year's.
Sebastien Bourdais, meanwhile, fell foul of traffic on his fast lap and was forced to settle for 21st, leaving new team-mate Sebastian Saavedra to represent Dragon Racing toward the front of the grid by qualifying ahead of Franchitti in ninth.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m01.2070s 2. Takuma Sato Foyt Dallara-Honda 1m01.5776s + 0.3706s 3. Simona de Silvestro KV Dallara-Chevy 1m01.7670s + 0.5600s 4. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m01.8229s + 0.6159s 5. Helio Castroneves Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m01.8991s + 0.6921s 6. Tristan Vautier Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m02.0645s + 0.8575s 7. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m01.6883s Round 2 8. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m01.7339s Round 2 9. Sebastian Saavedra Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m01.7944s Round 2 10. Dario Franchitti Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m01.8150s Round 2 11. Tony Kanaan KV Dallara-Chevy 1m01.9139s Round 2 12. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy 1m02.1483s Round 2 13. Justin Wilson Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m02.2177s Group 1 14. Charlie Kimball Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m02.1198s Group 2 15. Graham Rahal Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m02.2709s Group 1 16. Josef Newgarden Fisher Dallara-Honda 1m02.1592s Group 2 17. Alex Tagliani Herta Dallara-Honda 1m02.3328s Group 1 18. James Jakes Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m02.1658s Group 2 19. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m02.4736s Group 1 20. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m02.1715s Group 2 21. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m02.6537s Group 1 22. EJ Viso Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m02.1986s Group 2 23. Ed Carpenter Carpenter Dallara-Chevy 1m02.6634s Group 1 24. JR Hildebrand Panther Dallara-Chevy 1m02.3179s Group 2 25. Ana Beatriz Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m03.2551s Group 2