Will Power extends qualifying reign
SAO PAULO -- Will Power of Australia improved to four for four in IndyCar poles this season after earning the 200th for Team Penske at the Sao Paulo 300 on Saturday.
Power, winner of the inaugural Sao Paulo race last year, will start at the front in Sunday's race after clocking 1 minute, 21.896 seconds on the 2.5-mile, 11-turn Anhembi temporary street circuit.
"Very good day with qualifying," Power said. "I think it's important to start up front, there is less chance of getting taken out on the start and maybe the first couple of restarts."
American Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport was 0.402 behind and will start second. Hunter-Reay was runner-up to Power in last year's race in Brazil and in qualifying two weeks ago in Long Beach.
"Congratulations to Will," Hunter-Reay said. "Everybody else in the paddock is getting tired of it, but he is doing a great job."
Scott Dixon of New Zealand will start third after a lap of 1:22.362, and he will be followed by Ryan Briscoe, Graham Rahal and series leader Dario Franchitti, the pole winner in Brazil a year ago.
Power appears to have the dominant car again in Sao Paulo this year. He set the fastest time with about three minutes left in the final stage of qualifying. He had already been the fastest in practice.
"We were very comfortable putting our sectors together," Power said. "I gathered everything I had and put as much as I could into a lap."
Power won last year's race after starting fifth on the grid, his worst starting spot on a road or street course in 2010. He has won the pole 11 times in his last 13 road course starts.
His four consecutive poles are the most for a Penske driver to start the season. The pole was the 399th overall for Penske in all levels of racing.
The Anhembi track was significantly faster than last year's inaugural race after officials repaved the entire surface to eliminate bumps and removed some curbs that were slowing the cars in some turns. Franchitti had the pole position in 2010 with a time of 1:27.735, nearly six seconds slower than Power's time on Saturday.
"What a fantastic job they did of repaving the track," Power said. "I believe that now it has set the standard for street courses. This is the nicest street course I've driven on. I'm very impressed."
Other drivers agreed.
"We can really floor it now," said three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who will start seventh and the highest Brazilian driver on the grid.
"The track definitely improved a lot," said KV Racing driver Tony Kanaan, who will start 21st, losing six spots on the grid after changing his front wing during qualifying.
Simona de Silvestro of Switzerland surprised with the second fastest time in practice after a mechanical failure, but she failed to run past 13th in qualifying. She ran well and even led laps in Sao Paulo last year in the race that marked her debut in the series.
Danica Patrick again struggled in qualifying and will start 17th, her best starting position this season.
Venezuela's E.J. Viso will get off last because his car wasn't fixed in time for qualifying after he crashed in practice at the end of the back straight, which was the series' longest ever straight at just short of a mile.
Canadian James Hinchcliffe was the best rookie in qualifying and will start 11th.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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