Reigning IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will start from pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsport Park, surviving a late challenge from Will Power in an action-filled qualifying session.
The Andretti Autosports driver moved to top spot in the dying moments of the final ‘Fast Six’ phase of qualifying, and then had to endure a tense wait as Power went for one final dash to try and wrestle top spot, with his efforts ultimately falling short by two-tenths of a second.
The pair line up ahead of the series’ sensational rookie Tristan Vautier, who finished third-fastest in just his second-ever IndyCar outing. The Frenchman originally qualified seventh-quickest at the end of the second round of qualifying, but was a late invitee to the ‘Fast Six’ after the event stewards disqualified Takuma Sato from further participation.
The Japanese driver was the first victim of the new sporting regulations sub-clause, which stipulates that a driver can be disqualified from further participation – in addition to having his fastest two laps disallowed – if found to have impeded another driver in either the Group or ‘Round 2’ segments of qualifying.
Scott Dixon ensured that four difference teams would occupy the first four grid positions with his effort getting him the outside of the second row of the grid, while Chip Ganassi teammate Charlie Kimball delivered an excellent fifth-fastest effort, ahead of Hélio Castroneves in the second of the three Penske entries.
Making his IndyCar debut in Penske’s third car was AJ Allmendinger, who qualified a solid tenth-fastest.
Qualifying saw several high-profile candidates eliminated, with several knocked out in the Group 1 phase, including the likes of Simon Pagenaud, Dario Franchitti, Alex Tagliani, Tony Kanaan, and Sébastien Bourdais.
Simona de Silvestro was another high-profile runner to be knocked out in ‘Group 2’, which will be all the more disappointing given she was quickest in Saturday’s final practice session.
Championship leader and St Petersburg racewinner James Hinchcliffe was another runner to be eliminated in the same group. The Canadian later complained that he’d been blocked by Power, but the stewards disregarded his cries, consigning the Andretti driver to a lowly twentieth on the grid.
2013 IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama Final Qualifying Results:
|No.||Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||1:07.0871||F6|
|2.||Will Power||Team Penske – Chevrolet||1:07.3304||F6|
|3.||Tristan Vautier||SPH – Honda||1:07.3616||F6|
|4.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||1:07.3642||F6|
|5.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||1:07.4987||F6|
|6.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske – Chevrolet||1:07.5106||F6|
|7.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||1:07.4893||R2|
|8.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||1:07.4964||R2|
|9.||Sebastián Saavedra||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||1:07.6317||R2|
|10.||AJ Allmendinger||Team Penske – Chevrolet||1:07.6972||R2|
|11.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||1:07.8832||R2|
|12.||Takuma Sato||AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda||Disallowed||R2|
|13.||Simon Pagenaud||SPH – Honda09||1:07.2409||G1|
|14.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||1:07.7291||G2|
|15.||Alex Tagliani||Barracuda Racing – Honda||1:07.2886||G1|
|16.||E.J. Viso||Team Venzuela – Chevrolet||1:07.7337||G2|
|17.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||1:07.2965||G1|
|18.||Oriol Servià||Panther / D&R – Chevrolet||1:07.7474||G2|
|19.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||1:07.3761||G1|
|20.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||1:07.7774||G2|
|21.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||1:07.4184||G1|
|22.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda||1:07.7830||G2|
|23.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||1:07.4567||G1|
|24.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing – Chevrolet||1:07.8467||G2|
|25.||Ana Beatriz||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||1:08.9108||G1|
|26.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet||1:08.6362||G2|