Will Power completed the perfect comeback from his Friday practice crash at St. Petersburg with a pole that knocked teammate Simon Pagenaud off the top by two tenths of a second.
The Australian, who has won this race twice, pulled off a masterstroke in Q2 by completing just two timed laps compared with others’ six and seven laps. But Power’s sole fast lap in that session put him top at 1m00.0658sec, 0.17sec clear of Scott Dixon, and simultaneously shattered his previous lap record by half a second.
But it also meant that in Q3, on scuffed reds, Power still had enough life left in his rubber to set a 1m00.2450secs, deposing Pagenaud with his final run, and earning him his 43rd pole position.
Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya were 0.25sec and 0.29sec away respectively, to complete a Penske 1-2-3-4 at St. Petersburg.
Fastest non-Penske was predictably reigning champion Dixon who qualified fifth, while Ryan Hunter-Reay held up Honda honor with sixth.
Graham Rahal clocked seventh fastest in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda, edging Sebastien Bourdais (KVSH-Chevy), and James Hinchcliffe’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda.
Slightly disappointing was the performance of AJ Foyt Racing-Honda, a team that has figured in the top six throughout practice; Jack Hawksworth and Takuma Sato will roll off 10th and 11th tomorrow, just ahead of Josef Newgarden’s Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet.
Eliminated in the first round of qualifying were all the rookies – Alexander Rossi (Andretti), Conor Daly (Dale Coyne Racing), Max Chilton (Ganassi) and Spencer Pigot (RLLR).
However, they could console themselves with the thought that fellow Q1-eliminees included series veterans and former St. Pete podium finishers Tony Kanaan (Ganassi) and Marco Andretti (Andretti).
|1||12||Will Power||Penske (C)||1:00.2450|
|2||22||Simon Pagenaud||Penske (C)||1:00.4421|
|3||3||Helio Castroneves||Penske (C)||1:00.4995|
|4||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||Penske (C)||1:00.5312|
|5||9||Scott Dixon||Ganassi (C)||1:00.5395|
|6||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti (H)||1:00.8803|
|7||15||Graham Rahal||Rahal (H)||1:00.5893|
|8||11||Sébastien Bourdais||KVSH (C)||1:00.6711|
|9||5||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt (H)||1:00.6724|
|10||41||Jack Hawksworth||Foyt (H)||1:00.7188|
|11||14||Takuma Sato||Foyt (H)||1:00.9745|
|12||21||Josef Newgarden||Carpenter (C)||1:01.0571|
|13||26||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti (H)||1:01.1856|
|14||83||Charlie Kimball||Ganassi (C)||1:01.0433|
|15||27||Marco Andretti||Andretti (H)||1:01.2417|
|16||19||Luca Filippi||Coyne (H)||1:01.1699|
|17||8||Max Chilton||Ganassi (C)||1:01.5372|
|18||7||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt (H)||1:01.2934|
|19||98||Alexander Rossi||Andretti/Herta (H)||1:01.5794|
|20||10||Tony Kanaan||Ganassi (C)||1:01.3414|
|21||18||Conor Daly||Coyne (H)||1:01.9385|
|22||16||Spencer Pigot||Rahal (H)||1:01.3881|
(C) = Chevrolet, (H) = Honda