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Indy Car News
Power wins fourth pole in a row at St. Pete
St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Will Power claimed his fourth consecutive pole position on the streets of St. Petersburg by winning Saturday's qualifying session for the IndyCar Series season-opener.
Power topped the time charts and set a new track qualifying record with a lap around this 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit in 1 minute, 1.2070 seconds during the closing minutes of the final "Fast Six" qualifying round. The Team Penske driver has now earned the pole here each season since 2010. He won this race three years ago and then finished second in 2011 before placing seventh last year.
The Australian scored his 30th career pole, which put him in sole possession of eighth on IndyCar's all-time pole winners list.
"It's a good start to the year," Power said. "I thought qualifying was going to be very tight. It's very tight on new tires, but we made a few changes for the last run."
Power also became the first driver since Sebastien Bourdais to win four poles in a row at the same track. Bourdais recorded four straight poles in Monterrey, Mexico while driving in Champ Car from 2003-06.
Last year, Power finished second in the IndyCar point standings for the third consecutive season. The road/street courses have been his strong suit, as he scored three wins and five poles on those tracks during the 2012 season. Power finished the season just three points behind champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Takuma Sato, who is making his first start in the No. 14 car for A.J. Foyt Racing, had an impressive qualifying run. Sato's lap in 1:01.5776 gave him the second starting position. He was quickest in practice earlier in the day.
Making her debut with KV Racing Technology, Simona de Silvestro qualified a career-best third. It was also the first time de Silvestro advanced it into the Fast Six round in her four-year IndyCar career. Her previous best start was seventh in 2010 at Edmonton, Canada.
"It's really cool to finally get the results we wanted," De Silvestro said. "Thanks to KV Racing Technology for giving me the opportunity. It's unbelievable."
James Hinchcliffe will start fourth, followed by Helio Castroneves, who won at St. Pete one year ago. Tristan Vautier, the lone rookie in the series this year, will roll off sixth.
Hunter-Reay failed to make it into the last round of qualifying and will begin his IndyCar title defense campaign from the eighth starting position. His teammate, Marco Andretti, will start one spot ahead of him in seventh.
"Eighth is in the top-10, so we can start there and then race for the win," Hunter-Reay said. "I'm optimistic about that, but just disappointed we didn't get the car up into the top-six."
Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon struggled in qualifying, with Franchitti finishing 10th and Dixon placing 20th after he failed to advance into the second round. Dixon finished second in this race last year.
Sunday's 110-lap Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled to start at 12:40 p.m. ET.
03/23 17:19:42 ET
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