Hunter-Reay wins pole but starts 11th in Edmonton
Edmonton, AB (Sports Network) - Ryan Hunter-Reay continued his surge in the IZOD IndyCar Series by winning Saturday's qualifying session at Edmonton.
Hunter-Reay, who has won the last three IndyCar races and moved atop the championship point standings, earned a bonus point for the pole win, but the Andretti Autosport driver will start Sunday's Edmonton Indy ten positions lower due to an unapproved change of his Chevrolet engine.
Rain began falling on the 2.224-mile, 13-turn course at Edmonton City Centre Airport midway through the session. Hunter-Reay barely made it into the final "Fast Six" segment, edging Will Power by 0.285 seconds. He was the last of the six driver to post a lap during the last stint. Hunter-Reay made his lap in 1 minute, 17.2338 seconds for just his second career pole win. His first came in 2004 while competing in the Champ Car Series.
"Really happy," Hunter-Reay said. "We even saved a set of reds (tires). We used reds there. The track was constantly changing, so putting on a clear visor there helped. You could really tell where the dry spots were. I went for them. We were full wet there and then the track was drying. It was really hard coming to a decision to go to used reds.
"We pretty much decided to start 13th or 14th with a another set of new reds for tomorrow. Instead, we ended up getting the pole, so that's awesome."
Hunter-Reay now holds a 35-point lead over Power, who won this race last year.
"It was great we picked up a championship point for the pole, but too bad we will be starting 11th instead of first because of the engine change," he added.
Dario Franchitti was second quickest in qualifying with a lap in 1:17.2446, but Franchitti will start from the pole for the fourth consecutive race. He earned the top starting position at Milwaukee, Iowa and Toronto prior to Edmonton. However, Franchitti has finished 17th, 19th and 25th in those previous races.
"I felt like any one of those laps we could've done it, but I think everyone else had the same kind of story," said Franchitti, whose lap time was just 0.014 seconds behind Hunter-Reay. "It's so difficult to put a lap together here, and I didn't manage it. I think Ryan is pretty happy. Every time I've started from pole recently, he's won."
Ryan Briscoe will share the front row with Franchitti, while Takuma Sato, who won the pole at Edmonton in 2011, and Canadian Alex Tagliani will roll off from row two. Helio Castroneves starts fifth.
Power, who won three road/street course races earlier this season, qualified seventh, but he too received a 10-grid spot penalty when his Penske team revealed shortly after qualifying they are changing his Chevrolet engine. He will now start 17th.
"I thought we had a fast car, but we didn't play the weather correctly," Power said. "It sprinkled enough to use the wets (tires) but then created a dry line pretty quick. I should have known better there, as the fastest laps were coming at the end. Tomorrow will be a great challenge and we need to have a good result."
Scott Dixon, who is Franchitti's teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing, received the same grid penalty as well for a change of his Honda engine. Dixon qualified eighth.
The 75-lap race at Edmonton is scheduled to start at 2:45 p.m. (ET).
07/21 18:50:48 ET