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Power on pole as Penske dominates

Will Power, Penske, Watkins GlenPenske took its first top three sweep since returning to a three-car line-up as Will Power led Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe in Watkins Glen qualifying.

The result gave Penske its eighth consecutive IndyCar pole - equalling the all-time record in major American single-seater racing - and means it remains unbeaten in Indy Racing League-run qualifying sessions at the famous track, though it has yet to convert any of those into a win.

Castroneves had been quickest in the first qualifying group, with Power leading the top 12 session, and all three Penske drivers had no difficulty reaching the 'Fast Six' pole shoot-out.

Power then instantly established his authority in the final session, setting a 1m29.3164s early on, which proved unbeatable.

Castroneves was 0.15s slower and then spun into the gravel at Turn 8 on his final effort to beat Power to pole. The chequered flag had already flown by then, so no full course yellow was called, which means the Brazilian keeps his front row time.

Behind Briscoe, group two pacesetter Dario Franchitti was the best non-Penske driver in fourth. He was the only Ganassi driver in the Fast Six, with Scott Dixon missing the cut by 0.0777s and ending up seventh.

Takuma Sato was a frontrunner all session and took a career-best fifth on the grid for KV, while last year's race-winner Justin Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold) could not emulate his 2009 front row start but completed the third row.

Outside the Fast Six, the star of the session was debutant Adam Carroll. After a deliberately low-key practice performance, AFS/Andretti Autosport's new signing breezed through his first qualifying group and took 10th on the grid.

That made Carroll second best among Andretti's quintet, behind only eighth-placed Marco Andretti. Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Danica Patrick all failed to make it out of the group stages and will start 13th, 16th and 21st.

The situation was particularly agonising for Hunter-Reay, who spun and got stuck in the gravel at Turn 8, which meant his best two laps were deleted once he was pushed back on course. That left him with one shot at getting through, but he felt that lap was ruined by Milka Duno - and made his feelings very clear to the struggling Dale Coyne Racing driver in the pits afterwards.

KV managed to get two cars in the top ten, with Mario Moraes backing up Sato's good result by taking ninth. But the squad's third driver EJ Viso missed qualifying, the team unable to prepare its back-up car in time after Viso's huge practice crash.

Paul Tracy made it into the second leg of qualifying on his return with Dreyer & Reinbold and will start 12th for his first IndyCar race in almost a year.

Pos  Driver               Team               Time        Session
 1.  Will Power           Penske             1m29.3164s  Fast six
 2.  Helio Castroneves    Penske             1m29.4608s  Fast six
 3.  Ryan Briscoe         Penske             1m29.9346s  Fast six
 4.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi            1m29.9600s  Fast six
 5.  Takuma Sato          KV                 1m30.1410s  Fast six
 6.  Justin Wilson        Dreyer & Reinbold  1m30.2667s  Fast six
 7.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi            1m30.1389s  Top 12
 8.  Marco Andretti       Andretti           1m30.2042s  Top 12
 9.  Mario Moraes         KV                 1m30.2643s  Top 12
10.  Adam Carroll         AFS/Andretti       1m30.4886s  Top 12
11.  Raphael Matos        De Ferran Dragon   1m30.5276s  Top 12
12.  Paul Tracy           Dreyer & Reinbold  1m30.8413s  Top 12
13.  Tony Kanaan          Andretti           1m31.1933s  Group 1
14.  Hideki Mutoh         Newman/Haas        1m31.1723s  Group 2
15.  Simona de Silvestro  HVM                1m31.3268s  Group 1
16.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti           1m31.4333s  Group 2
17.  Vitor Meira          Foyt               1m31.4088s  Group 1
18.  Mario Romancini      Conquest           1m31.5797s  Group 2
19.  Alex Tagliani        Fazzt              1m31.5218s  Group 1
20.  Dan Wheldon          Panther            1m31.5987s  Group 2
21.  Danica Patrick       Andretti           1m31.5328s  Group 1
22.  Alex Lloyd           Dale Coyne         1m33.9832s  Group 2
23.  Bertrand Baguette    Conquest           1m32.1888s  Group 1
24.  Milka Duno           Dale Coyne         1m40.4911s  Group 2
25.  EJ Viso              KV                             Group 2
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