"We just don't have it," admitted the Frenchman. "I think we may be missing grip in a few places because, overall, my balance is really good. I think I got the most out of the car but not the most out of the tyres. We just don't have as much grip as the Penske cars and a few others. We need to find a little bit more."
"I was happy that we made it through to the second round of qualifying," contributed Barrichello, who will start the race from just outside the top ten. "We made an adjustment after the first round, but the car was still on the limit. Hopefully, with a good strategy tomorrow I will be looking at a top-five finish."
That second round set the broad pattern for the Firestone Fast Six which decided the first three rows of the grid, although Power once again flexed his muscles and propelled himself back on top ahead of Briscoe with a lap of 1:17.2709s (111.115mph) which was 0.1638s faster than his team mate, who will start alongside him on the front row for tomorrow's race. It's Power's 28th pole of his IZOD IndyCar Series career.
Sebastien Bourdais managed to stop a repeat of 2011's Penske top three lockout on the grid by firmly eclipsing Helio Castroneves for third place by more than three tenths. The Ganassi duo of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti had to settle for sharing the third row of the grid, and face a reprise of the same gloomy scenario they endured last year when the top five drivers all finished in the same position in which they started. Despite the recent tweaks of the Sonoma circuit intended to aid overtaking and improve the racing action for fans, there's still every possibility that Penske will again emerge with a top three lockout in the race itself if they can dispatch Bourdais early in the day.
Power remains cautious about his chances of success, however. "The wind really made the car unstable the last two days, so it will be interesting to see what the wind is like tomorrow," he pointed out. "And it will also be interesting because the race is an extra ten laps."
There were no red flags during any of the rounds of qualifying, but Sebastian Saavedra had his fastest lap deleted in round 1 for a pit lane entry violation. Saavedra is also one of four who will have ten-place grid penalties for the start of tomorrow's race for unapproved engine changes: the others are Takuma Sato, Justin Wilson and Simona de Silvestro.
Full qualifying times