Power on pole as Penske dominates
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, July 3rd 2010, 18:38 GMT|
Penske 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