Martin Plowman, AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Martin Plowman, AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Rookie Martin Plowman led the two-car Sam Schmidt Motorsports team in qualifying today for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar Series Baltimore Grand Prix.

By qualifying 20th in the No. 17 Snowball Express/AFS/SSM car, Plowman will start on the outside of the 10th row in tomorrow’s 75-lap race on the 2.4-mile, 12-turn Streets of Baltimore circuit. He was the 10th fastest in his group of 14 qualifiers.

“Qualifying was a very messy run for us and just getting a clear space to get into a rhythm was key,” said Plowman after climbing from his car. “We found ourselves in a good space, but then a few cars went off track. Out of the six fast laps on the tires, I only had one good lap and that was my first flying lap. I definitely feel like there is more to come out of me and the car and the tires.”

Alex Tagliani, Plowman’s veteran teammate and driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Honda/Dallara/Firestone car, will start in the row behind Plowman after the Canadian stopped the clocks with a lap of 1:22.1596 at 89.387 mph. His time was 11th fastest in his group of 14 qualifiers. It is also Tagliani’s lowest starting position of the season.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Tagliani. “Every time we make a change, it just gets worse. We’re going backwards. I’m fairly disappointed right now.”

The new Streets of Baltimore circuit is proving challenging for many teams and drivers.

“This weekend, both Alex and I seem to be struggling to get the right set up on the car to be compliant over the bumps. It’s probably the bumpiest place we’ve been too, and it’s creating a bit of a headache. The race is going to be carnage tomorrow, so it’s about being smart and avoiding all the crashes to make it to the finish.”

Will Power captured his seventh PEAK Performance Pole Award of 2011 and the 23rd of his Indy car career by turning a lap of 1:20.2447 seconds at 91.520 mph. Ganassi Racing’s Graham Rahal will start next to Power on the front row after he produced a lap of 1:20:3238 seconds at 91.430 mph.

Power’s Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe will line up on the inside of the second row with the third fastest qualifying time of 1:20.7023 seconds at 91.001 mph. Current IZOD IndyCar Series point leader Dario Franchitti, from Ganassi Racing, will start fourth with his lap of 1:20.7118 seconds at 90.990 mph.

Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five in qualifying with his lap of 1:20.9725 seconds at 90.697 mph. It is Bourdais’ best starting position of the season.

In capturing today’s pole, Power ties three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford for 11th spot on the all-time Indy car pole winner’s list. Power is also the only driver to have qualified for the Firestone Fast Six in every road and street course race in 2011.

The Baltimore Grand Prix gets underway at 2:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 4, with live coverage provided by Versus beginning with its pre-race show at 2 p.m. ET.