Tony Kanaan has claimed his first pole position for the KV Racing outfit in a fascinating qualifying session for the season-ending Las Vegas round where many of the year’s frontrunning drivers were upstaged.
The season’s championship contenders, Will Power and Dario Franchitti, both suffered disastrous qualifying sessions – the pair will start from the ninth row in what is by far and away their worst collective performance of the season. Franchitti simply needs to finish ahead of Power to successfully defend his championship crown.
With just a few minutes left in qualifying, it looked as though Oriol Servià would claim the top qualifying prize, after muscling his Newman/Haas entry around the oval circuit at an average speed of over 222mph.
But the Spaniard’s hopes of claiming his first pole position since his effort at the Champ Car round on the Gold Coast in 2005 faded away when Kanaan just managed to edge him out, to the tune of just 0.17mph, or 0.0019 seconds over a two-lap average. There was virtually nothing in it!
Starting from third place will be Ed Carpenter, who continues his remarkable oval circuit form after his win at the last championship round at Kentucky. The Sarah Fisher driver bumped early pole-sitter Alex Tagliani (who is driving for Bryan Herta Autosports this weekend) down to fourth.
With Team Penske and Ganassi having typically dominated in almost every qualifying session this season, it was a surprise to see both outfits struggling this weekend. Ryan Brisco (5th) and Graham Rahal (8th) were the best performers, respectively, for the outfits.
On the flipside, the four-car Andretti Autosports team had one of its strongest collective performances, getting all four cars into the top-ten, having briefly held the top-three slots earlier in the session.
Wade Cunningham was the quickest rookie driver, qualifying his AFS / Sam Schmidt entry an impressive 12th on just his third ever IndyCar outing, while Rookie of the Year contenders James Hinchcliffe and JR Hildebrand will start line astern in 14th and 15th positions, respectively.
Despite knowing he will start from the rear of the field, Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon still had a crack in qualifying, although he only managed to get his Sam Schmidt entry 29th-fastest.
EJ Viso and James Jakes both missed the session. Viso didn’t participate after taking an engine change on Thursday, while Jakes’ car was being repaired after a heavy crash at the start of today’s final practice session.
2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championships at Las Vegas Final Qualifying Results:
|1.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology Lotus||222.078mph|
|2.||Oriol Servià||Newman/Haas Racing||222.061mph|
|3.||Ed Carpenter||Sarah Fisher Racing||221.509mph|
|4.||Alex Tagliani||Bryan Herta Autosports||221.330mph|
|5.||Ryan Briscoe||Team Penske||221.130mph|
|6.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||221.129mph|
|7.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||221.040mph|
|8.||Graham Rahal||Service Central Chip Ganassi||220.958mph|
|9.||Danica Patrick||Andretti Autosport||220.925mph|
|10.||Mike Conway||Andretti Autosport||220.922mph|
|11.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||220.907mph|
|12.||Wade Cunningham||AFS / Sam Schmidt Motorsports||220.790mph|
|13.||Scott Dixon||Target Chip Ganassi Racing||220.715mph|
|14.||James Hinchcliffe||Newman/Haas Racing||220.701mph|
|15.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||220.639mph|
|16.||Takuma Sato||KV Racing Technology Lotus||220.627mph|
|17.||Will Power||Team Penske||220.524mph|
|18.||Dario Franchitti||Target Chip Ganassi Racing||220.489mph|
|19.||Buddy Rice||Panther Racing||220.392mph|
|20.||Sebastian Saavedra||Conquest Racing||220.335mph|
|21.||Alex Lloyd||Dale Coyne Racing||220.314mph|
|22.||Charlie Kimball||Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing||219.982mph|
|23.||Townsend Bell||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||219.942mph|
|24.||Tomas Scheckter||Sarah Fisher racing||219.816mph|
|25.||Davey Hamilton||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||219.493mph|
|26.||Vitor Meira||AJ Foyt Enterprises||219.273mph|
|27.||Paul Tracy||Dragon Racing||218.661mph|
|28.||Jay Howard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||218.577mph|
|29.||Dan Wheldon||Sam Schmidt Motorsports||218.410mph|
|30.||Pippa Mann||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||218.157mph|
|31.||Ana Beatriz||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||218.153mph|
|32.||Simona de Silvestro||HVM Racing||218.132mph|
|33.||EJ Viso||KV Racing Technology Lotus||no time|
|34.||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||no time|
[Images via IZOD IndyCar Series]