Kanaan celebrates his pole position at Las Vegas

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:

Driver Team Speed
1. Tony Kanaan BRZ KV Racing Technology Lotus 222.078mph
2. Oriol Servià ESP Newman/Haas Racing 222.061mph
3. Ed Carpenter USA Sarah Fisher Racing 221.509mph
4. Alex Tagliani CDN Bryan Herta Autosports 221.330mph
5. Ryan Briscoe AUS Team Penske 221.130mph
6. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport 221.129mph
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport 221.040mph
8. Graham Rahal USA Service Central Chip Ganassi 220.958mph
9. Danica Patrick USA Andretti Autosport 220.925mph
10. Mike Conway GBR Andretti Autosport 220.922mph
11. Hélio Castroneves BRZ Team Penske 220.907mph
12. Wade Cunningham NZL AFS / Sam Schmidt Motorsports 220.790mph
13. Scott Dixon NZL Target Chip Ganassi Racing 220.715mph
14. James Hinchcliffe CDN Newman/Haas Racing 220.701mph
15. JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing 220.639mph
16. Takuma Sato JPN KV Racing Technology Lotus 220.627mph
17. Will Power AUS Team Penske 220.524mph
18. Dario Franchitti GBR Target Chip Ganassi Racing 220.489mph
19. Buddy Rice USA Panther Racing 220.392mph
20. Sebastian Saavedra COL Conquest Racing 220.335mph
21. Alex Lloyd GBR Dale Coyne Racing 220.314mph
22. Charlie Kimball USA Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing 219.982mph
23. Townsend Bell USA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 219.942mph
24. Tomas Scheckter RSA Sarah Fisher racing 219.816mph
25. Davey Hamilton USA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 219.493mph
26. Vitor Meira BRZ AJ Foyt Enterprises 219.273mph
27. Paul Tracy CDN Dragon Racing 218.661mph
28. Jay Howard GBR Rahal Letterman Lanigan 218.577mph
29. Dan Wheldon GBR Sam Schmidt Motorsports 218.410mph
30. Pippa Mann GBR Rahal Letterman Lanigan 218.157mph
31. Ana Beatriz BRZ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 218.153mph
32. Simona de Silvestro SUI HVM Racing 218.132mph
33. EJ Viso VEN KV Racing Technology Lotus no time
34. James Jakes GBR Dale Coyne Racing no time

[Images via IZOD IndyCar Series]

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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.