Will Power and Ryan Briscoe have made it an all-Australian front row for today’s IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, the second round of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
Having been consistently the quickest of the field in the free practice sessions over the weekend, Power was not surprisingly the quickest overall in the first phase of qualifying. Things changed in the second knockout session when Scott Dixon went fastest in Round 2, but Power redressed the matter with his effort in he ‘Fast Six’ stage to take pole and an all-Penske front row from Briscoe.
A Penske qualifying 1-2 had looked on the cards for much of the weekend, and Dixon did well to get his Ganassi entry into the mix with the third-fastest time in the final stage of qualifying, which was enough to push Hélio Castroneves into fourth place on rolling start line-up.
The still-injured Justin Wilson – driving with a splint on his broken wrist sustained at St Petersburg – took a brave fifth from Newman/Haas’ Oriol Servià, who is continuing his hot form on his return season to IndyCars.
St Petersburg race-winner Dario Franchitti was fractionally edged out by Servià in Round 2 qualifying and missed a berth in the ‘Fast Six’ stage, leaving the Scot to start from seventh place.
Franchitti will start alongside the series’ newcomer James Hinchcliffe, who took the second Newman/Haas entry to eighth place on the grid in a sensational performance form the Canadian rookie on his IndyCar debut.
Marco Andretti was quickest of the four-car Andretti Autosports squad and only member of the team to make it into the second round of qualifying, while his team-mates struggled for pace. Mike Conway – a front-row starter here last year – is a lowly 16th, Ryan Hunter-Reay is one spot further back, while Danica Patrick was a very disappointing 22nd.
Graham Rahal completed the top-ten placings and showed decent pace in the second Ganassi-backed team.
KV Racing was another team not to enjoy much in the way of results at Barber, with Takuma Sato lining up quickest in eleventh place, while team-mates EJ Viso (18th) and Tony Kanaan (24th) – a podium finisher at the last round – were well off the pace.
The poorer results for some of the bigger teams was in direct contrast to some of the smaller, less-fancied operations, who enjoyed their day in the sun. Simon di Silvestro was a case in point, only just missing out on a berth into Round 2. Raphael Matos was another example, taking his AFS Racing entry to 14th on the grid
D&R stand-in driver Simon Pagenaud – covering for the injured Ana Beatriz this weekend – qualified 23rd-fastest for his IndyCar Series debut.
IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama Qualifying Results:
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske||1:11.4546|
|2.||Ryan Briscoe||Team Penske||1:11.7361||+ 0.2815|
|3.||Scott Dixon||Target Chip Ganassi||1:11.8826||+ 0.4280|
|4.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||1:12.1247||+ 0.6701|
|5.||Justin Wilson||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||1:12.3085||+ 0.8539|
|6.||Oriol Servià||Newman/Haas Racing||1:12.4394||+ 0.9848|
|7.||Dario Franchitti||Target Chip Ganassi||1:11.7090||(Round 2)|
|8.||James Hinchcliffe||Newman/Haas Racing||1:11.8183||(Round 2)|
|9.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||1:11.8672||(Round 2)|
|10.||Graham Rahal||Service Central Chip Ganassi||1:11.9712||(Round 2)|
|11.||Takuma Sato||KV Racing Technology Lotus||1:12.1667||(Round 2)|
|12.||Alex Tagliani||Sam Schmidt Motorsports||1:12.3485||(Round 2)|
|13.||Simona di Silvestro||HVM Racing||1:12.2559||(Group 1)|
|14.||Raphael Matos||AFS Racing||1:12.4094||(Group 2)|
|15.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||1:12.2684||(Group 1)|
|16.||Mike Conway||Andretti Autosport||1:12.5191||(Group 2)|
|17.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||1:12.3370||(Group 1)|
|18.||EJ Viso||KV Racing Technology Lotus||1:12.6582||(Group 2)|
|19.||Vitor Meira||AJ Foyt Enterprises||1:12.5677||(Group 1)|
|20.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing||1:12.6896||(Group 2)|
|21.||Charlie Kimball||Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi||1:12.5857||(Group 1)|
|22.||Danica Patrick||Andretti Autosport||1:12.7257||(Group 2)|
|23.||Simon Pagenaud||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||1:12.5900||(Group 1)|
|24.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology Lotus||1:12.8892||(Group 2)|
|25.||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||1:12.7147||(Group 1)|
|26.||Sebastian Saavedra||Conquest Racing||1:13.0858||(Group 2)|
[Video via IndyCar]