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Hunter-Reay tops Power for Barber pole
Birmingham, AL (Sports Network) - Defending IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will start on the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama after beating Will Power in Saturday's qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park.
Hunter-Reay's last lap around this 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course during the final segment of qualifying (Fast Six) was clocked in 1 minute, 7.0871 seconds. The Andretti Autosport driver collected his third career IndyCar pole. His most recent one came last July in Edmonton, Canada.
"This (No. 1 Andretti Autosport) team has done so well this weekend, and we've just been progressing," Hunter-Reay said. "We knew what we needed to work on, and I really went to work on my driving as well. We all did it together. So this is a great position to start from."
Power's final lap in Q3 came in 1:07.3304, which was 0.2433 seconds behind Hunter-Reay. Power has won the last two IndyCar races at Barber. He also captured the pole for the first two events here from 2010-11. His Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, claimed the top starting position for last year's race at this track.
"I'm happy to be second," Power said. "I didn't think we would be second. We just made it, and I'm happy with that. We'll see what we can get for tomorrow."
Last season, Hunter-Reay defeated Power by just three points to win his first IndyCar title.
Rookie Tristan Vautier qualified third, while Scott Dixon took the fourth spot. Dixon led the way in Q1 and Q2. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver also set a new track qualifying record in Q1 with his lap in 1:06.7750.
Charlie Kimball was fifth, while Helio Castroneves placed sixth. Castroneves won the pole for this race in 2012.
Takuma Sato's time in Q2 was good enough for him to advance into the Fast Six, but Sato had his time disallowed in that session after he blocked Justin Wilson. His blocking penalty allowed Vautier to advance into Q3. Sato will start 12th.
Marco Andretti will roll off in seventh, followed by Wilson, Sebastian Saavedra and A.J. Allmendinger, who is making his IndyCar debut driving the No. 2 car for Penske. Earlier in the day, Allmendinger revealed that the April 21 race in Long Beach, Calif. has been added to his IndyCar schedule this year. He is also slated to compete in the May 26 Indianapolis 500.
James Hinchcliffe, who won the season-opener two weeks ago in St. Petersburg, Fla., failed to advance into Q2 and will start 20th. Hinchcliffe complained that Power impeded his progress during his last lap in Q1.
"We had enough time to get into Q2, but I caught a driver who was backing off from a guy he caught and then he took off and backed off again," Hinchcliffe said. "With these red tires, you get one maybe two consecutive laps ... He makes it into the next session, and I end up getting knocked out. It's disappointing."
Sunday's 90-lap race at Barber is scheduled to start at 3:40 p.m. ET.
04/06 14:05:06 ET
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