Will Power continued his love affair with the streets of St Petersburg by recording his seventh pole position in eight years for the Firestone Grand Prix in Florida.
Recovering from a practice one crash on Friday, the Toowoomba native snatched pole in the dying moments of qualifying with a lap of 1:o1.06s (106.118 mph) effort.
The lap sealed his 45th career IndyCar pole, which places him fifth on the all-time list.
The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion will look for his third win at the circuit tomorrow.
“It takes obviously a very good team and kind of getting through that first round there,” said Power, whose lone lap in the opening of three knockout qualifying segments was quick enough to advance while also saving his Firestone alternate tyres for the final round, the Firestone Fast Six.
“Definitely had a good moment on the tyres in the last round there, so I’m very happy to be on pole.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon appeared to be the driver to beat for the majority of the weekend, leading second practice Friday and this morning’s session, where he posted a lap of 1:01.6240 (105.154 mph) to join Power on the front row.
Dixon also paced the first two segments of qualifying, but admitted a mistake on his flying lap of the Firestone Fast Six ended his chances at the Verizon P1 Award.
“Honestly, I think the team and Honda did the job, I just did not,” said Dixon.
“Came up short, made a pretty big mistake on my fast lap, which definitely disappointed me.
“We’ve had a pretty smooth weekend, the car’s super-fast but came up short. But it’s qualifying, hopefully tomorrow I can redeem myself and maybe snap up an extra spot.”
The Kiwi has finished runner-up at St. Pete on three occasions, but has yet to find victory lane at the circuit, where he will make his 13th start tomorrow.
Following Dixon on the grid were 2013 St. Pete winner James Hinchcliffe (#5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda), whose best lap of 1:01.3039 (105.703 mph) earned him his best start at St. Pete.
Also achieving his best qualifying position at the track was Josef Newgarden (#2 Verizon Chevrolet), who will start his first race for Team Penske from the outside of row two.
Andretti Autosport’s Takuma Sato amended for a rough Friday, which saw him tag the Turn 13 barrier in practice, by qualifying his #26 Andretti Autosport Honda in the top five in his debut with the team.
While Sato rejoiced in a successful qualifying, team-mate Marco Andretti and defending series champion Simon Pagenaud found frustration. Neither advanced from Segment 1, despite both showing speed in the weekend’s practice sessions.
There will be a 30 minute warm-up tomorrow morning shown on racecontrol.indycar.com. The race coverage starts at 3am Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time on ESPN.
Result: Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg Qualifying
1: Will Power 01:01.0640s
2: Scott Dixon 01:01.2219
3: James Hinchcliffe 01:01.3039
4: Josef Newgarden 01:01.7229
5: Takuma Sato 01:01.9851
6: Tony Kanaan 01:02.0824
7: Max Chilton 01:01.3516
8: Alexander Rossi 01:01.5198
9: Charlie Kimball 01:01.6066
10: Graham Rahal 01:01.6181
11: Carlos Munoz 01:01.7399
12: Ryan Hunter-Reay 01:03.1588
13: Spencer Pigot 01:01.5898
14: Simon Pagenaud 01:01.6129
15: Marco Andretti 01:01.6070
16: Helio Castroneves 01:01.7159
17: Mikhail Aleshin 01:01.7674
18: Ed Jones 01:01.7598
19: JR Hildebrand Sausalito 01:01.8465
20: Conor Daly 01:02.2030
21: Sebastien Bourdais No Time