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IndyCar Barber: Ryan Hunter-Reay beats Will Power to pole

Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti IndyCar 2013 Barber

Ryan Hunter-Reay survived a late challenge from Will Power to claim pole position for this weekend's IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park.

In a drama-filled session, the reigning champion moved to the top late in the 'Fast Six' with a best lap of 1m07.0871s, but then had to watch as Power squeezed in one final flying lap.

The Australian's efforts fell short though, and he was forced to settle for second with a time 0.2s down on Hunter-Reay's.

"We just kept progressing and we knew where we needed to work on it," Hunter-Reay said.

Rookie Tristan Vautier did a remarkable job to qualify third, considering that he didn't even know that he had progressed to the final round of qualifying until it was just about to start.

The Indy Lights champion initially ended the second phase in seventh place, and therefore missed out on advancing to the Fast Six.

His progress was sealed when Takuma Sato was disqualified from the session for blocking Justin Wilson.

Sato was the first victim of newly-introduced Rule, which states:"To further emphasise on-track sportsmanship, if a car is deemed by the race director to have interfered with qualifications during Segment 1 or 2 of road/street course qualifying, the car will not be allowed to advance to the next segment in addition to having its two fastest laps disallowed."

Welcome news as this was for Vautier, it came after his car had already been pushed back to the paddock, prompting a frantic scramble among the Schmidt Peterson squad to return it to pitlane and ready it for another qualifying run.

Ganassi's Scott Dixon was fourth fastest, the Kiwi having earlier become the first driver to dip into the 1m06s range when he delivered a 1m06.7250s effort during the first qualifying phase.

Charlie Kimball and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top six in a field in which several pre-weekend favourites were cancelled out early.

Sebastien Bourdais, Dragon, Barber IndyCar 2013A super-competitive first qualifying group claimed the scalps of Simon Pagenaud, Dario Franchitti, Alex Tagliani, Tony Kanaan, and Sebastien Bourdais (pictured).

But just how close it was between them was illustrated by the fact that six of the seven drivers eliminated in that phase had registered times fast enough to have advanced them had they been in the second group.

Group 2 also claimed some high-profile names including Simona de Silvestro and championship leader James Hinchcliffe. The latter felt that he had been unfairly blocked by Power, although the Australian suggested that this might have been due to the natural accordion effect that the track creates through Turn 9.

AJ Allmendinger made it through to the second phase in his single-seater comeback, and will start 10th.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car                   Time        Gap
 1.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti Dallara-Chevy     1m07.0871s
2. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m07.3304s + 0.2433s
3. Tristan Vautier Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m07.3616s + 0.2745s
4. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m07.3642s + 0.2771s
5. Charlie Kimball Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m07.4987s + 0.4116s
6. Helio Castroneves Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m07.5106s + 0.4235s
7. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m07.4893s Round 2
8. Justin Wilson Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m07.4964s Round 2
9. Sebastian Saavedra Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m07.6317s Round 2
10. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m07.6962s Round 2
11. James Jakes Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m07.8832s Round 2
12. Takuma Sato Foyt Dallara-Honda 1m08.9560s Round 2
13. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m07.2409s Group 1
14. Simona de Silvestro KV Dallara-Chevy 1m07.7291s Group 2
15. Alex Tagliani Herta Dallara-Honda 1m07.2886s Group 1
16. EJ Viso Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m07.7337s Group 2
17. Dario Franchitti Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m07.2965s Group 1
18. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy 1m07.7474s Group 2
19. Tony Kanaan KV Dallara-Chevy 1m07.3671s Group 1
20. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m07.7774s Group 2
21. Graham Rahal Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m07.4184s Group 1
22. Josef Newgarden Fisher Dallara-Honda 1m07.7830s Group 2
23. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m07.4567s Group 1
24. JR Hildebrand Panther Dallara-Chevy 1m07.8367s Group 2
25. Ana Beatriz Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m08.9108s Group 1
26. Ed Carpenter Carpenter Dallara-Chevy 1m08.6362s Group 2
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De Silvestro fastest in final practice
Castroneves on top at Barber
Vautier sets pace despite incident