Dixon qualifies 4th at Barber

Ryan Hunter-Reay survived a late challenge from Will Power to claim pole position for this weekend’s IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park.

In a drama-filled session, the reigning champion moved to the top late in the ‘Fast Six’ with a best lap of 1m07.0871s, but then had to watch as Power squeezed in one final flying lap.

The Australian’s efforts fell short though, and he was forced to settle for second with a time 0.2s down on Hunter-Reay’s.

“We just kept progressing and we knew where we needed to work on it,” Hunter-Reay said.

Rookie Tristan Vautier did a remarkable job to qualify third, considering that he didn’t even know that he had progressed to the final round of qualifying until it was just about to start.

The Indy Lights champion initially ended the second phase in seventh place, and therefore missed out on advancing to the Fast Six.

His progress was sealed when Takuma Sato was disqualified from the session for blocking Justin Wilson.

Sato was the first victim of newly-introduced Rule, which states:”To further emphasise on-track sportsmanship, if a car is deemed by the race director to have interfered with qualifications during Segment 1 or 2 of road/street course qualifying, the car will not be allowed to advance to the next segment in addition to having its two fastest laps disallowed.”

Welcome news as this was for Vautier, it came after his car had already been pushed back to the paddock, prompting a frantic scramble among the Schmidt Peterson squad to return it to pitlane and ready it for another qualifying run.

Ganassi’s Scott Dixon was fourth fastest, the Kiwi having earlier become the first driver to dip into the 1m06s range when he delivered a 1m06.7250s effort during the first qualifying phase.

Charlie Kimball and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top six in a field in which several pre-weekend favourites were cancelled out early.

A super-competitive first qualifying group claimed the scalps of Simon Pagenaud, Dario Franchitti, Alex Tagliani, Tony Kanaan, and Sebastien Bourdais.

But just how close it was between them was illustrated by the fact that six of the seven drivers eliminated in that phase had registered times fast enough to have advanced them had they been in the second group.

Group 2 also claimed some high-profile names including Simona de Silvestro and championship leader James Hinchcliffe. The latter felt that he had been unfairly blocked by Power, although the Australian suggested that this might have been due to the natural accordion effect that the track creates through Turn 9.

AJ Allmendinger made it through to the second phase in his single-seater comeback, and will start in the middle of the field.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car                   Time        Gap
 1.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti Dallara-Chevy     1m01.7339s
 2.  Will Power           Penske Dallara-Chevy       1m01.2070s  + 0.2433s
 3.  Tristan Vautier      Schmidt Dallara-Honda      1m02.0645s  + 0.2745s
 4.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi Dallara-Honda      1m02.1715s  + 0.2771s
 5.  Charlie Kimball      Ganassi Dallara-Honda      1m02.1198s  + 0.4116s
 6.  Helio Castroneves    Penske Dallara-Chevy       1m01.8991s  + 0.4235s
 7.  Marco Andretti       Andretti Dallara-Chevy     1m01.6883s    Round 2
 8.  Justin Wilson        Coyne Dallara-Honda        1m02.2177s    Round 2
 9.  Sebastian Saavedra   Dragon Dallara-Chevy       1m01.7944s    Round 2
10.  AJ Allmendinger      Penske Dallara-Chevy       1m01.7944s    Round 2
11.  James Jakes          Rahal Dallara-Honda        1m02.1658s    Round 2
12.  Takuma Sato          Foyt Dallara-Honda         1m01.5776s    Round 2
13.  Simon Pagenaud       Schmidt Dallara-Honda      1m02.4736s    Group 1
14.  Simona de Silvestro  KV Dallara-Chevy           1m01.7670s    Group 2
15.  Alex Tagliani        Herta Dallara-Honda        1m02.3328s    Group 1
16.  EJ Viso              Andretti Dallara-Chevy     1m02.1986s    Group 2
17.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi Dallara-Honda      1m01.8150s    Group 1
18.  Oriol Servia         Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy  1m02.1483s    Group 2
19.  Tony Kanaan          KV Dallara-Chevy           1m01.9139s    Group 1
20.  James Hinchcliffe    Andretti Dallara-Chevy     1m01.8229s    Group 2
21.  Graham Rahal         Rahal Dallara-Honda        1m02.2709s    Group 1
22.  Josef Newgarden      Fisher Dallara-Honda       1m02.1592s    Group 2
23.  Sebastien Bourdais   Dragon Dallara-Chevy       1m02.6537s    Group 1
24.  JR Hildebrand        Panther Dallara-Chevy      1m02.3179s    Group 2
25.  Ana Beatriz          Coyne Dallara-Honda        1m03.2551s    Group 1
26.  Ed Carpenter         Carpenter Dallara-Chevy    1m02.6634s    Group 2

Dixon qualifies 4th at Barber

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