IndyCar Series championship leader Ryan Hunter-Reay has claimed his first ever pole position in the championship, only to be stripped of top spot courtesy of an unauthorised engine change that demotes him to eleventh on the grid for Sunday’s race at Edmonton Airport. Defending champion Dario Franchitti therefore inherits pole position.
Having claimed victory at each of the last three championship rounds, Hunter-Reay mastered the mixed weather conditions during qualifying, which saw a rain shower hit the makeshift track during the second phase of qualifying. The Andretti Autorport driver managed to tiptoe through the puddles to make it into the ‘Fast Six’ qualifying phase, and timed his final run to perfection to snatch the fastest time from Franchitti by just one-hundredth of a second.
While Hunter-Reay’s penalty gives Franchitti an effective pole position, the Scot will start alongside the Penske entry of Ryan Briscoe, while last year’s Edmonton pole-winner Takuma Sato will start from third position, sharing the second row of the grid with local racer Alex Tagliani, who continues to show sparkling qualifying form since his Bryan Herta-run team switched to Honda power mid-season.
Hunter-Reay won’t be the only driver to cop a ten-place grid penalty under the championship’s unpopular engine regulations, which issue grid penalties to any driver forced to perform an engine change if the unit has run less than 1,850 miles, or if a sixth engine is fitted during the season.
Those to fall foul include former Edmonton winners Will Power and Scott Dixon, who will lose ten spots from their original seventh- and eighth-fastest qualifying efforts today. Also demoted are Oriol Servià and Simona de Silvestro, who will start from the rear of the grid.
2012 IndyCar Series Edmonton Indy Final Qualifying Results:
* Will incur a ten-place grid penalty for an engine change