Series Australia Saturday qualifying notes

POWER TAKES POLE FOR NIKON INDY 300 SURFERS PARADISE, Australia - Will Power gave the home crowd something to cheer about. The Team Australia driver captured the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone for the Nikon Indy 300 with a lap...

POWER TAKES POLE FOR NIKON INDY 300

SURFERS PARADISE, Australia - Will Power gave the home crowd something to cheer about.

The Team Australia driver captured the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone for the Nikon Indy 300 with a lap of 1 minute, 34.9451 seconds (105.977 mph) on the 2.795-mile course during the Firestone Fast Six shootout. It was his third consecutive pole on the Streets of Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Power, a native of nearby Toowoomba, Australia, will be joined on the front row for the 60-lap race by New Zealander Scott Dixon (1:35.7672; 105.067), the reigning IndyCar Series champion in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. Aussie Ryan Briscoe will start third in the No. 6 Team Penske car (1:35.8007; 105.031).

A storm about 30 minutes before the three knockout rounds impacted the first group of the initial 20-minute session the most, with threaded rain tires the norm and steady hands on the steering wheel necessary. The racetrack dried throughout the next 60 minutes, but slick patches remained during the Firestone Fast Six.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

Graham Rahal will compete in the Nikon Indy 300 for the second time, and is visiting the venue for the third time.

"My dad finished second twice in Australia and raced there many times," said Rahal, who won in his IndyCar Series debut in April on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. "He didn't win there so it's up to me to get a win for the Rahals in Australia. I went there once as a kid in 1998, the last year my dad was racing in CART. It is a great place; absolutely beautiful. I was only 9 or 10 so I missed the best part, which is the girls. I wasn't paying attention to them then. My dad was knocked out right away so I didn't see much of the race. I went back to the hotel and jumped in the pool."

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Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon have a rooting interest in the Rugby World Cup opening-round match Oct. 26 in Sydney when Australia and New Zealand face off.

"I follow it when it's World Cup and certainly wish the worst for the Kiwis," Briscoe said.

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The themed helmet that Conquest Racing's Alex Tagliani is wearing for the Nikon Indy 300 is already spoken for after the race.

An auction during the Indy Gala Ball on Oct. 24 raised $25,000 (Australian), with proceeds designated for the Gold Coast Hospital Foundation Children's Ward.

The design, which is based on the Conrad Jupiters Gold Coast Casino and Hotel, features casino-themed imagery such as slot machines, casino chips and a roulette table on the sides. The back of the helmet has Conrad Jupiters slogan "What will you get up to?'' as well as four aces - one each that contain the names Bronte and Tagliani.

"I wanted Bronte's name on the cards because I hit the jackpot when I met her," said Tagliani, who met his wife at Surfers Paradise in 2001.

There's also company for Richard the Lionhearted on Dan Wheldon's helmet. He has a beach motif, featuring a surfer, on the side of the helmet. A similar theme is on the helmet of E.J. Viso

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PEAK MOTOR OIL QUALIFYING NOTES:

* Will Power is the first Indy car driver to win three pole positions in Australia (2006-2008). He is the first driver to win the pole in consecutive years.

* Scott Dixon qualified second, his 10th front-row start in 2008.

* Ryan Briscoe qualified third - his best start in Australia.

* Dario Franchitti qualified fourth in his 2008 IndyCar Series debut

PEAK MOTOR OIL QUALIFYING QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award winner): "It was quite a difficult session, to be honest. I went out there and half the track was wet and half the track was dry. It was a matter of getting through each round and in the last round it was all dry. It was back to what I knew quite well. On the last lap, I backed off out and made sure I got a good run in. I'm very happy for the team. We turned up with a pretty good car out of the box and the guys did great work. Hopefully we can get it done this weekend, because that's what we've been trying to do for the last three years."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified second): "Today was pretty interesting qualifying with the different conditions. We nearly got caught out a couple times not getting a lap in and then getting a yellow. Getting though Q2 was quite nice because we were sitting in ninth before the last lap. It was definitely a good day for Team Target. A lot of credit goes to Will (Power) for putting together a lap like that in the conditions that we had. I don't think we would have had that if we had gotten all the corners right."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, qualified third): "My run was pretty good - it was good fun out there. I was a bit nervous when the rain came down - it's never fun going down a street course in the wet - it's pretty daunting. The car seemed to work pretty well, the tires were really good in those conditions as I never had any moments of aquaplaning - I give a lot of credit to Firestone there. At the end when we finally made it to the Fast 6, the track was just getting dry and it was the first time we were able to put a good lap together. It wasn't bad - it was the first time I was really able to attack the curbs. I was just hoping for the best coming off of them. I rubbed the wall a few times, but I'm happy where we're starting tomorrow."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified fourth): "As for my day, it's been pretty good. First practice was OK, but then the rain came and I thought it was going to be a bit of a challenge because I haven't driven in an IndyCar (Series car) in the wet for hell knows how long. It seemed to work OK. It was dry for the first half of the lap, so I thought, let's go to slicks here. I went tearing into Turn 7 and it was completely wet and I almost stuck it in the fence. Got through the first two sessions OK and I overdrove the Fast Six. I felt driving in wet knocked my rhythm off a little bit and I didn't do a good job. The car was awesome and the Target boys did a hell of a job preparing the car. It's gone a lot better than I expected."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, qualified fifth): "It's encouraging to go into the last race of the year starting in the Firestone Fast Six. Everything is so uncertain going into the off-season. We don't have a deal yet. It's all up in the air."

(On season overview): "There have been some strong points. I have to remind myself that we're a single-car team. It's not easy when you don't have anything to compare it to. You don't have another car out there gathering data, gathering changes that work. We were a constant threat in the top five, so that's all that matters."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified sixth): "We took a gamble there when it started raining. We had 20 minutes in the first session and it looked like it was going to continue raining, so we decided to change part of the gearing of the car. When we made the top six, we kept to our plan and the gears. Ultimately the track dried out. It was a little bit hard to put together the right lap, but it paid off because top-six at this place is pretty good. Hopefully we'll continue our good progress during the weekend and see what happens tomorrow."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 36 Conquest Racing, qualified seventh): "I think we showed that Conquest Racing is a very competitive team. I think we deserved a lot better than P7, we had a car that could easily be in the top four this afternoon. We should have been in the top six in qualifying. Our position in the pits, being at the end of pit lane, hurt us quite a bit. It made qualifying pretty difficult because we were quick, but other guys in front of us were able to get out of the pit earlier and were able to complete one extra lap. Throughout qualifying, we were consistently at the top and looking good to move on to Segment 3 but unfortunately guys that did extra laps got us. The team has worked really hard and done a great job. We're confident for the race tomorrow. We feel that we have a car that can compete with the guys in front of us. Starting seventh is not a bad spot, we just have to stay out of trouble and do our best."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, qualified eighth): "The Team 7-Eleven car should have been in the Firestone Fast Six but the league said I crossed the finish line and took the checkered flag, so my last lap didn't count. It is completely unfair because I was right behind Dario (Franchitti) and they gave him the lap so I don't know what to say. We'll take eighth but we're not happy about it."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald, qualified ninth); "Based on our potential I am pretty disappointed. The McDonald's team ran the quickest time the whole weekend but our starting position doesn't reflect that. I thought we had a lot of potential but we couldn't get a lap out of it quick enough. We were slipping and sliding around. In conditions like that where its wet and drying you need to be able to get on it and I couldn't for whatever reason. Anything can happen in this race especially with a rolling start here. It's going to chaos at Turn 1. I think we can still be very smart and work this out because it's by no means over. We can still win this race and show what we are capable of."

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SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

8:35 a.m. - 9:05 a.m. IndyCar Series warmup
11:35 a.m. Nikon Indy 300 pre-race
11:06 a.m. Nikon Indy 300 (60 laps/1 hour, 50 minute time limit)

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The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with a non-points paying race Oct. 26 at Surfers Paradise, Australia. The Nikon Indy 300 will be telecast live at 10:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 25 by ESPN Classic and will re-air at 11 p.m. Oct. 26 on ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season has concluded.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Graham Rahal , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Will Power
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Conquest Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing