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Hunter-Reay wins, and loses, Edmonton pole

This time, in stark contrast to the leisurely start of Group 1, there was a scramble by all the cars to get out on track as soon as possible - reinforcing the expectation that rain was looking imminent on the radar and putting a premium on an early banker lap in the dry. Even before the session was five minutes old, all the drivers had been in action and set fast laps, although technical problems for the AJ Foyt car meant Mike Conway only had a couple of runs before being sidelined in pit lane with fuel pressure issues.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was on top with a lap of 1:16.3047s just ahead of James Hinchcliffe and a third of a second faster than Dario Franchitti in third. Helio Castroneves, Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais all moved into top six spots with five minutes remaining as a few isolated rain drops started to make their presence felt.

Rubens Barrichello bumped Bourdais out of the top six with a lap of 1:16.9090s, at which point most cars had done their qualifying rotation and were heading back to pit lane early, making it a quiet end to the session as the rain started to really come down and make a wet Round 2 inevitable.

Round 2 - Top 12

Through to Round 2 were Will Power, Alex Tagliani, Takuma Sato, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud from Group 1; and Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Graham Rahal and Rubens Barrichello from Group 2.

The brief but substantial shower had left large sections of the track far too wet for slicks, but not quite wet enough to bring out the best in the intermediate rain tyres either. Understandably in the circumstances, everyone held fire in pit lane hoping for someone else to go out and sample the track on their behalf an for the track to drain off as much as it could; and when they did go out and sought a fast lap, it was a question of being able to stay on the track and not do a 360 degree spin off, as Scott Dixon did on his sighting lap.

Takuma Sato made the early running, with the first laps a full 13s off where they had been in the opening round on slicks. Will Power was able to improve on Sato's time and went to the top with a lap of 1:28.4500, but Sato's next effort was a full second faster at 1:27.2904s showing just how quickly the track was drying off and conditions improving.

Sato pushed his time even lower with a 1:26.7542 and Helio Castroneves punched out an impressive 1:27.1590s for second ahead of Alex Tagliani, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. But it proved to be those cars timing their runs for the very last moment across the chequered flag that then delivered knock-out blows in the final seconds, with Will Power shockingly on the losing end of the reshuffle and stuck in seventh place after a minor error on his final flying lap opportunity.

When the dust settled, Sato, Castroneves, Tagliani were joined by Ryan Briscoe, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Hunter-Reay in progressing through to the top six pole shootout.

Round 3 - Firestone Fast Six

With the track still damp, it was a tricky tyre decision for the six drivers who had made it through to the final round of qualifying since they were obliged by the rules to stick with whichever tyre choice they started with. Were the conditions now good enough to return to the red (soft) compound slicks, or would not running the rain tyres end up in disaster?

The call was to go with the red-walled slicks, for better or for worse: Sato put in the first flying lap without incident and clocked a 1:19.6370s, almost half a second ahead of Ryan Briscoe's first effort. But Helio Castroneves' first lap advanced the goalposts to 1:19.0150s and then Ryan Briscoe's first flier was a gamechanger as he went top with a stunning 1:17.9336s.




Related Pictures

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Ryan Hunter-Reay. July 6-9, 2012. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (c) 2012 Perry Nelson (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Edmonton Indy Pole Winner Ryan Hunter-Reay with pole award. (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt. (PHoto Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon won the pole and finished in fourth-place. Kanaan led for most of the race and finished third. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan lead the pack at the start of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Incident between Mikhail Aleshin and Takuma Sato bring out the first yellow flag of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Incident between Mikhail Aleshin and Takuma Sato bring out the first yellow flag of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay gets a new ride (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay with the winner`s trophy (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Briscoe (left), driver of the #8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, talks with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, during qualifying Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Briscoe qualified fourth, Kanaan second and teammate Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 won the pole. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates winning the pole Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon will start in the front row with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, who qualified second. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 wins the pole Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon will start in the front row with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, who qualified second. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
The eyes of Scott Dixon look down track prior to practice for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon on course during practice for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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