Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
KV Racing Technology's Tony Kanaan (222.078 mph) won pole for the Las Vegas Indy 300 on Friday, as championship contenders Will Power of Team Penske and Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti slid backwards to start side-by-side on Row 9. Newman/Haas Racing's Oriol Servia was second-quick on the day, just ahead of Sarah Fisher Racing's Ed Carpenter on the third spot of the Sunday race's starting grid.
I think the car is even better in traffic. I'm pretty excited for the race now.
Sam Schmidt Motorsport's Alex Tagliani qualified fourth, followed by Penske's Ryan Briscoe, Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti and his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Ganassi's Graham Rahal picked up the eighth spot in qualifying results, ahead of Danica Patrick and Mike Conway of Andretti Autosport,
Helio Castroneves of Team Penske and Scott Dixon of Ganassi Racing rounded out the top twelve starters.
Kanaan's first pole of the 2011 season came ahead of the final race of the year. Kanaan picked up $10,000 as pole-winner and also earned one point toward the championship points standings. It's the Brazilian veteran's 15th IndyCar pole and first in over three years since taking pole at Richmond International Raceway in June, 2008.
"We saved the best for last," Kanaan said. "I'm extremely happy today. I think the car is even better in traffic. I'm pretty excited for the race now."
Servia continued a series of strong pole-qualifying efforts to earn his spot on the outside of Row 1. "Front row is the best place to start for a race as crazy as this one is going to be," he said in reference to the 34-car field on the 1.5 mile oval in Las Vegas, "so I am very happy with our position and I think we have a great shot at a win on Sunday." It his third-front row start of the season (previous Indianapolis and New Hampshire).
It was a disappointing result for Franchitti, who continues to nurse an 18 point lead going into the final race of the 2011 campaign. "We're looking for an answer to get a fast car in the race," he said afterwards. "We've already changed the engine so it's something else, maybe set-up or in the basic build of the car, that's just not right."
Starting at the rear of the 34-car field will be 2011 Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon in the Sam Schmidt Motorsports sister car to Tagliani. "We don't understand why we're so far off the pace," said Wheldon who will try to lasso a $2.5 million bonus for himself and an equal amount for a fan if he should win the event. "Quite frankly, with the pace were at, we can't stay up in the draft. There's something we're missing."
Kanaan teammate EJ Viso will also start in the last row due to an "improper engine change", as ruled by the IRL stewards at trackside on Friday.
The race commences at 3:45 PM EDT Sunday with live broadcast coverage on the ABC television network; and with live radio and internet streaming audio by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway network.