Mario Romancini won his first career Firestone Indy Lights pole in qualifying for the impressively-named Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 presented by Charter, fending off points leader JR Hildebrand in the process.

Romancini recorded a two-lap qualifying average of 49.4453secs to continue his impressive start to life in the Indy Lights series, following on from a podium on his first appearance at Indianapolis. His previous best start was sixth at Kansas, but Romancini set an event qualifying record, bettering Pablo Donoso's two-lap time from last year by 0.7129secs. It was also a first pole for RLR/Andersen Racing team in its third season of Firestone Indy Lights racing.

"This is my first time at this track and, since I got here this morning, I've been comfortable," the Brazilian reported, "The car has been really good, and I was able to make two good laps. I felt really good grip on the car and, more importantly, I feel like we have a pretty good car for tomorrow's race. It will be a long race and we'll have to manage our tyres for the first 50 laps because I think the last 25 laps will be tough."

Hildebrand qualified second, his third front row start of the season after poles at St Petersburg and Long Beach. It is his best career start on an oval, however, bettering third at Indianapolis earlier this month.

"Going into it, we thought the wind was going to be a little bit more of a factor, and so we sort of picked our gears based on that and ended up getting geared a bit too short for what the conditions were like," the AFS/AGR driver admitted.

"I think we have a little more speed left in it, but I'm happy with starting on the front row. It's a bummer for the guys that we couldn't stick it on the pole, but I think we have a good race car."

Rookie Jonathan Summerton qualified third, his career-best starting position, while Kansas racewinner Sebastian Saavedra took fourth.

"On my out lap, I had a little too much understeer, and I was hesitant because of the understeer on the first lap," Summerton noted, "I could have done more with it and been on the pole if I hadn't been for that. My line was normal, and the car was good, but I just didn't make the full edge on that first lap.

Indianapoli Freedom 1oo race winner Wade Cunningham qualified fifth, his third consecutive top-five start after poles at Kansas and Indianapolis.

"It was a good run for what we had," the Kiwi confessed, "Thest when Charlie Kimball had spun out at the exit of Turn 2 right in front of us. I was setting up to pass him, and I really didn't have anywhere to go and clipped him with the right front and tore that corner off, and, unfortunately, we damaged the undertray. Unfortunately, because we missed 50 or 60 crucial laps from that first session, we were just behind the eight-ball."

The 16-car field is the smallest of the field so far with several names joining Jay Howard on the sidelines, including Ana Beatriz, following her Indianapolis crash.

Meanwhile, Firestone Indy Lights officials have penalised the #36 Genoa entry - also not racing this weekend - 20 entrant points and fined the team an undisclosed amount for a technical violation of rule 13.11 (J) regarding oil supply found during the recent event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


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