Dario Franchitti wasn't able to win his fourth consecutive pole position of the season for tomorrow's Edmonton Indy, but he will nonetheless still start from the top spot in the race thanks to an engine change penalty that will demote the fastest man in qualifying - Ryan Hunter-Reay - out of the top ten.
Increasingly gloomy skies and strengthening winds around Edmonton City Center Airport made it plain going in that rain was not far away from the 2.24-mile, 13-turn temporary circuit, as qualifying got underway for Sunday's race. While the first round of qualifying escaped the showers, the rain came down before round 2 and was a big factor right through to the end - throwing up a number of surprises along the way.
The session followed the standard road and street course format, which saw half the field running in the first 15 minute Group 1 and the other half in Group 2. After a five minute pause, the top six from each group progressed to the ten-minute Top 12 session, with the top six from that round then going through to the pole shootout Firestone Fast Six round.
Full qualifying times from all three rounds
Round 1 - Group 1
The first part of qualifying featured Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Alex Tagliani, Justin Wilson, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, Ryan Briscoe, Takuma Sato, Charlie Kimball, JR Hildebrand and Simona Silvestro.
As is usually the case in IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying, there were no takers for a completely clear track for the first five minutes of the 15 minute session. In the end, Simona de Silvestro was the first car to break cover and head out, and it was more than another two minutes before she was joined by the rest of the field.
Will Power went top with his first flying lap, setting a time of 1:16.9588s that was quickly beaten by Josef Newgarden's response of 1:16.7646s and then by Ryan Briscoe moving the goalposts up to 1:16.4518s. Power responded with the quickest laps of the weekend including a phenomenal 1:15.9508s to put him a quarter of a second ahead of local hero Alex Tagliani, and was w whopping 2.6 seconds quicker than the 2011 pole time set by Sato.
Both Power and Tagliani understandably felt safe with those performances and came back into pit lane with a minute left on the clock, leaving the rest of the field to carry on without them. Sato and Briscoe also soon booked their way through to the next round while Scott Dixon was also safe in fifth, leaving Simon Pagenaud to narrowly hold off Justin Wilson and Josef Newgarden for the final spot.
Round 1 - Group 2
The second group featured Helio Castroneves, Mike Conway, James Hinchcliffe, Dario Frachitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rubens Barrichello, Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan, EJ Viso, James Jakes, Sebastien Bourdais, Oriol Servia and Ed Carpenter.