Will Power has led a Penske clean sweep in qualifying for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway, with the Australian claiming his sixth pole of the season after a dominant display.
The defending race winner cleaned up with a time of 1:18.602 in the final ‘Fast Six’ shootout for pole, which proved unreachable for any of his rivals. Team-mates Hélio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe round out the top three, while Power’s main championship rival Dario Franchitti starts from fourth place.
The Scot was unable to get his softer Firestone tyres to work as well for him in qualifying, and he starts one spot ahead of Chip Ganassi team-mate Scott Dixon.
IndyCar rookie James Hinchcliffe was the only non-Penske or Ganassi driver in the final phase of qualifying, and he starts from sixth place, continuing the form that has been a highlight of his impressive debut season.
Mike Conway finished a solid seventh-fastest as the fastest of Andretti’s four-car team, comfortably out-performing his team-mates Marco Andretti (14th), Ryan Hunter-Reay (19th) and Danica Patrick (25th).
Returning to his road course duties with Dale Coyne Racing, former F1 driver Sébastien Bourdais was eighth-fastest, ahead of KV Racing’s EJ Viso. Ana Beatriz claimed her best qualifying result with tenth place.
It was a day for the underdogs and rookies, with former F1 driver Giorgio Pantano – making his series return in place of the injured Justin Wilson – making it into the top-twelve in his Dreyer & Reinbold entry. Rookie driver Martin Plowman qualified 15th-fastest on just his second IndyCar appearance after his Mid-Ohio debut.
With Simona de Silvestro remaining in Switzerland after her issues with US border protection, Simon Pagenaud continued to stand-in for the Swiss driver at HVM Racing. He will start from 22nd place.
After failing to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year, Ho-Pin Tung finally became China’s first-ever IndyCar representative in his return outing for Dragon Racing. He will start from 24th place.
2011 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Qualifying Results:
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske||1:18.602||(Fast Six)|
|2.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||1:19.092||(Fast Six)|
|3.||Ryan Briscoe||Team Penske||1:19.111||(Fast Six)|
|4.||Dario Franchitti||Target Chip Ganassi Racing||1:19.164||(Fast Six)|
|5.||Scott Dixon||Target Chip Ganassi Racing||1:19.389||(Fast Six)|
|6.||James Hinchcliffe||Newman/Haas Racing||1:19.545||(Fast Six)|
|7.||Mike Conway||Andretti Autosport||1:18.939||(Round 2)|
|8.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing||1:18.971||(Round 2)|
|9.||EJ Viso||KV Racing Technology Lotus||1:19.072||(Round 2)|
|10.||Ana Beatriz||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||1:19.110||(Round 2)|
|11.||Giorgio Pantano||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||1:19.241||(Round 2)|
|12.||Alex Tagliani||Sam Schmidt Motorsports||1:19.803||(Round 2)|
|13.||Graham Rahal||Service Central Chip Ganassi||1:19.331||(Group 1)|
|14.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||1:19.371||(Group 2)|
|15.||Martin Plowman||AFS / Sam Schmidt Motorsports||1:19.379||(Group 1)|
|16.||Takuma Sato||KV Racing Technology Lotus||1:19.384||(Group 2)|
|17.||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||1:19.474||(Group 1)|
|18.||Oriol Servià||Newman/Haas Racing||1:19.396||(Group 2)|
|19.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||1:19.640||(Group 1)|
|20.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||1:19.456||(Group 2)|
|21.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology Lotus||1:19.727||(Group 1)|
|22.||Simon Pagenaud||HVM Racing||1:19.564||(Group 2)|
|23.||Sebastian Saavedra||Conquest Racing||1:19.752||(Group 1)|
|24.||Ho-Pin Tung||Sam Schmidt / Dragon Racing||1:19.589||(Group 2)|
|25.||Danica Patrick||Andretti Autosport||1:19.785||(Group 1)|
|26.||Charlie Kimball||Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing||1:19.835||(Group 2)|
|27.||Ed Carpenter||Sarah Fisher Racing||1:20.627||(Group 1)|
|28.||Vitor Meira||AJ Foyt Enterprises||1:20.120||(Group 2)|
[Images via IZOD IndyCar Series]