Ryan Hunter-Reay has reignited his championship defence with pole position at Mid-Ohio

Ryan Hunter-Reay’s hopes of successfully defending his IndyCar Series crown received a boost on Saturday when the Andretti Autosports driver claimed pole position for this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 round at Mid-Ohio.

Despite last-minute bids from his rivals in the final ‘Fast Six’ shootout for pole, the American’s time of 1:05.3519 proved good enough for top spot, narrowly edging out Will Power for pole position by less than two-tenths of a second.

With Hunter-Reay lying 68 points behind championship leader Helio Castroneves – who only qualified fifteenth-fastest in a disappointing session – the result is a boost for his title defence as he hopes to claw back the deficit over the remaining six races in the season.

“Last year we clawed back from bigger deficits,” he said afterwards. “Being late in the season, we need to go like we did last year at the end of the season, which is go for broke. We’re not interested in banking results right now and going for second or third in the championship because nobody really remembers who finishes second a couple of years from now.

“We’re going for it. Hopefully this is the first step in it. But we have a long way to go, including tomorrow’s fight for the win. It’s going to be a long, hard race going up against the Ganassi, Penske boys and my teammates as well.”

But Hunter-Reay will need to keep an eye on his mirrors, as starting immediately behind him on the second row of the grid is Scott Dixon, who will be gunning for a fifth victory at Mid-Ohio and his fourth on the trot in the Kiwi’s late-season surge for championship honours.

Despite crashing in the morning's practice session, Kimball qualified a career-best fifthThe Chip Ganassi driver shares Row 2 with the evergreen Marco Andretti, while Dixon’s stablemates, Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti, locked out the third row. Kimball’s career-best qualifying effort was particularly impressive, although he would be wise to praise a Herculean effort from his mechanics who rebuilt his car after a heavy crash in the morning’s practice session.

The preceding second phase of qualifying was a closely-fought affair, and no less than three drivers – Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and Simona de Silvestro – were unlucky not to have found themselves competing in the ‘Fast Six’, missing out on a berth by just a tenth of a second.

Series debutants James Davison and Luca Filippi had varying performances. The former copped plenty of criticism for Ed Carpenter after failing to use his mirrors in the opening minutes of their group qualifying session, while Filippi was struck of his two fastest qualifying times for bringing out the red flags when he went off the circuit in his Barracuda Racing entry. The Italian had looked on course to qualify inside the top-fourteen, but will instead start from the back row of the grid.

2013 IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Qualifying Results:

  ‘Fast 6’ Qualifiers   Entry / Team Result  
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 1:05.3519  
2. Will Power AUS Team Penske – Chevrolet + 0.1840  
3. Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda + 0.3532  
4. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet + 0.5047  
5. Charlie Kimball USA Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda + 1.0896  
6. Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda + 1.2335  
  ‘Round 2’ Qualifiers   Entry / Team Result  
7. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing – Honda 1:05.9405  
8. Simon Pagenaud SPH – Honda 1:05.9412  
9. Simona de Silvestro KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet 1:05.9621  
10. James Jakes Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda 1:06.1778  
11. Tristan Vautier SPH – Honda 1:06.3379  
12. E.J. Viso Team Venzuela – Chevrolet 1:06.4071  
  ‘Group’ Qualifiers   Entry / Team Result  
13. James Hinchcliffe CAN Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 1:06.2198 G1
14. Sébastien Bourdais Dragon Racing – Chevrolet 1:06.1856 G2
15. Hélio Castroneves BRA Team Penske – Chevrolet 1:06.2280 G1
16. Takuma Sato AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda 1:06.1989 G2
17. James Davison AUS Dale Coyne Racing – Honda 1:06.2839 G1
18. Oriol Servia ESP Panther Racing – Chevrolet 1:06.2109 G2
19. Josef Newgarden* USA Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda 1:06.5334 G1
20. Tony Kanaan BRA KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet 1:06.2537 G2
21. Sebastián Saavedra Dragon Racing – Chevrolet 1:07.0895 G1
22. Graham Rahal* USA Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda 1:06.4002 G2
23. Ed Carpenter USA Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet 1:07.4107 G1
24. Luca Filippi ITA Barracuda Racing – Honda 1:06.8757 G2
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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.