Will Power took yet another pole position There’s a strange serendipity happening in the world of IndyCars so far in 2011. While Sebastian has stormed to comfortable pole positions in each of the three opening races of the 2011 Formula 1 season, across the Pacific Ocean, Penske driver Will Power is mirroring the result. This time the Australian clinched his third pole position of the season ahead of this afternoon’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

But the Penske driver came very close to finally being toppled from his qualifying dominance by Andretti Autosports’ Ryan Hunter-Reay – the winner of the race here last year – who lapped half a second faster than anyone else had managed in the ‘Final Six’ qualifying shootout.

But Power dug deeper on his next flying lap, just edging out Hunter-Reay by a tiny margin of 0.076 seconds, and the American was was simply unable to match or better Power’s effort.

Watch highlights from the Top-12 qualifying round

It was a positive qualifying result for half of the Andretti four-car squad, with Mike Conway lining up third-quickest ahead of Oriol Servià, with the IndyCar returnee putting in another impressive effort for the Newman/Haas squad, despite a crash in third practice.

The ‘Final Six’ was completed by Dreyer & Reinbold’s Justin Wilson, with the second Penske of Hélio Castroneves slowest in the final phase of qualifying.

For the first time this season, none fo the Ganassi entries made the final phase of qualifying, with Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon occupying the fourth row – the later accused pole-man Power of holding him up on a flying lap.

One of the other big losers in qualifying was Penske’s third entry of Ryan Briscoe, who will start from a lowly 12th after going down the wrong path on his car’s set-up. In Briscoe’s defence, top-twelve ‘Round 2’ session was a particularly tight affair with just half-a-second covering the field; Briscoe was only 0.2 seconds off making the ‘Final Six’ cut.

But qualifying also provided more impressive top-twelve results, with Alex Tagliani again impressing with ninth-fastest in the new Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry, ahead of leading KV Racing driver Tony Kanaan and Newman/Haas’ very impressive rookie James Hinchcliffe.

Those who qualified outside the top-twelve will be relying on alternate strategies and safety car interruptions to move up the order, and the likes of Vitor Meira, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Danica Patrick and JR Hildebrand will all be disappointed to be so far down the grid.

On the flipside, rookie driver Sebastian Saavedra took his Conquest entry to 15th on the grid.

Meanwhile, IndyCar returnee Paul Tracy will start his Dragon Racing entry at the back of the field after being slowest in his qualifying group, some two rows down on his former ChampCar arch-rival Sébastien Bourdais.


2011 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Qualifying Results:

Driver Team Time
1. Will Power AUS Team Penske 1:09.0649  
2. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport 1:09.1409 + 0.0760
3. Mike Conway GBR Andretti Autosport 1:09.6414 + 0.5765
4. Oriol Servià ESP Newman/Haas Racing 1:09.6828 + 0.6179
5. Justin Wilson GBR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 1:09.8097 + 0.7448
6. Hélio Castroneves BRZ Team Penske 1:09.8423 + 0.7774
7. Dario Franchitti GBR Chip Ganassi 1:09.6037 (Round 2)
8. Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi 1:09.6385 (Round 2)
9. Alex Tagliani CDN Sam Schmidt Motorsports 1:09.6497 (Round 2)
10. Tony Kanaan BRZ KV Racing Technology Lotus 1:09.7352 (Round 2)
11. James Hinchcliffe CDN Newman/Haas Racing 1:10.8122 (Round 2)
12. Ryan Briscoe AUS Team Penske 1:10.8243 (Round 2)
13. Vitor Meira BRZ AJ Foyt Enterprises 1:10.1010 (Group 1)
14. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport 1:09.9400 (Group 2)
15. Sebastian Saavedra COL Conquest Racing 1:10.1146 (Group 1)
16. Graham Rahal USA Chip Ganassi 1:10.5883 (Group 2)
17. EJ Viso VEN KV Racing Technology Lotus 1:10.1465 (Group 1)
18. Simona di Silvestro SUI HVM Racing 1:10.6407 (Group 2)
19. Raphael Matos BRZ AFS Racing 1:10.3477 (Group 1)
20. Danica Patrick USA Andretti Autosport 1:10.7836 (Group 2)
21. Sébastien Bourdais FRA Dale Coyne Racing 1:10.8050 (Group 1)
22. Takuma Sato JPN KV Racing Technology Lotus 1:10.8197 (Group 2)
23. James Jakes GBR Dale Coyne Racing 1:11.8592 (Group 1)
24. Charlie Kimball USA Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi 1:10.8672 (Group 2)
25. Paul Tracy CDN Dragon Racing 1:11.0249 (Group 1)
26. Simon Pagenaud FRA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 1:11.0341 (Group 2)
27. JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing 1:11.4916 (Group 2)

[Image via GP Update; video via IndyCars]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.