The red flag meant that Hunter-Reay had his times deleted for bringing out the caution, while Power's final flying lap (easily the fastest of the session) was incomplete and discounted from the time sheets. The final member of the Penske trio, Ryan Briscoe, was hit by clutch control issues and was unable to set a time in round 2, while the third Andretti driver - Marco - narrowly failed to progress from his round 1 group.
"We had a good first session and felt really good heading into the second round of qualifying with the #2 Hitachi car," said Briscoe. "We just had a problem with the clutch control unit and first gear. We could get it in first gear but the car wouldn't actually leave the gear. It's pretty disappointing because I really felt we had a car that was capable of winning the pole."
The stuttering performance of so many of the big names gave a chance for some strong showings for the so-called "little" team, such as Mike Conway putting the AJ Foyt Racing car onto the third row of the grid for Sunday alongside Scott Dixon.
"First time we've been in the Fast Six!" said a delighted Conway. "We made some changes overnight and they were good today. I just want to keep up all the good work and keep it up at the front."
Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand will starting behind Dixon and Conway, alongside KV Racing's Tony Kanaan who opted to pursue a tyre strategy and stay on the harder compound 'black-wall' tyres for the final Firestone Fast Six round and save the softer 'red-wall' tyres for the race.
“We went out, we knew we were going to be sixth at the time to save the reds for tomorrow," confirmed Kanaan. "I think warm-up tomorrow will be quite busy because everyone is going to be trying to figure out what to do for the race - we actually used the Firestone Fast Six this morning to start doing that, which helped me to get ahead of the game."
Earlier in the morning, the drivers lost their Saturday morning practice session because of heavy fog in the area delaying the arrival of the medical helicopter. With a packed schedule of support events, the session could not be extended and so the cars barely got in an installation lap before the chequered flag came out - which particularly hurt new drivers such as Rubens Barrichello who needed the track familiarisation time more than most.
"Oh, well. Once again I missed the next round by one thousand of a second," he lamented. "I wasn't able to run the morning session because of the fog and track time is so valuable for me, but no excuse, I have to get better and I will."
Full qualifying times
and group/round summaries
Starting grid positions
for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama