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Power takes first pole of 2011 at St Pete's

Power was the quickest runner in Group 2 in Round 1 with a time of 1:02.3384s, and Franchitti the corresponding fastest runner in Group 1 with 1:02.3848s. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who topped the Practice 1 timesheets on Friday, ended up failing to get past the first elimination round after a late caution during the session frustrated his chances of having a final run to improve his time.

"We got caught out by the yellow today," said Hunter-Reay afterwards. "It's one of those deals in qualifying where you roll the dice and wait to go out, hoping for the track to be a tenth or two quicker. But, you put yourself in a very risky position when it goes yellow.

For once, it wasn't EJ Viso responsible for the Group 2 yellow - qualifying being the first session all week that he hasn't brought out a caution. Instead, the major incident was because of a collision between Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra in turn 2: Bourdais was exiting the pit lane and got clipped by Saavedra going through at full speed. Bourdais' front right suspension was broken, while Saavedra went into the concrete barrier nose-first, spun across the track and into the tyre barriers. Neither driver was injured but Saavedra's Conquest car was probably terminally damaged.

Running in Group 1, Danica Patrick was not affected by the crash but nonetheless failed to progress through from round 1 on her return to the series after spending the past few weeks pre-season over in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

In the earlier morning Practice 3 session, Will Power had again topped the time sheets ahead of Mike Conway. EJ Viso once more had a serious crash and gave KV Racing Technology a substantial rebuild job before qualifying. Other drivers to have harmless off-track excursions included Conway, Power, Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Sebastian Saavedra, Charlie Kimball and Simona de Silvestro, making it a rather nerve-wracking session for drivers and teams alike.

Full times for qualifying and practice 3 available in the results section.





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