Ryan Hunter-Reay was celebrating his fourth IZOD IndyCar Series pole position on Saturday, after taking his second pole of 2013 with a new track record on the 11-turn 2.536-mile Sao Paulo temporary street circuit in Brazil.
"I gave it everything I had and it's great to get the DHL Chevrolet up front again and on pole," said the reigning series champion as he celebrated receiving the Verizon P1 Award. "That's three of the four races this year that we've been on the front row and twice on pole. I'm so happy for the guys and everything they've done for me.
"Tomorrow's when the challenge is, though," he added. "We thought we had a good car at Long Beach, and once we got into the race, I knew we were challenged and would be for the rest of the day. We need to make sure we've fixed those things this time and go out and have a great race," he added, pointing out: "Starting on pole here is a challenge because you are a sitting duck out front on the long straights."
Starting alongside Hunter-Reay will be EJ Viso, making it an all-Andretti Autosport front row with the Venezuelan looking strong all the way through what had proved to be an eventful Saturday afternoon qualifying session for the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300.
"I'm definitely feeling much better after today's qualifying," he beamed. "To be starting on this track on the front row is great. I'm very grateful for the great car that team gave me today. It was good enough for the front row, and I have a lot of faith in them that tomorrow we are going to have a good car in the race that is going to stay and keep that pace."
Dario Franchitti will start on the third row alongside local hero Tony Kanaan, who overcame an injured right hand to claim fourth spot on Sunday's race grid for what will be a landmark 200th consecutive start in the IndyCar Series.
"This is my home race, we have the fans cheering and the backing from my local sponsor. Starting in fourth in a street course is not bad at all and I think it's going to be weird seeing just three cars in front of me at the start," Kanaan laughed. "It was a great team effort by KV. We had a great car from the get go, but there was no way I could beat those guys that had sticker reds during the Fast Six."
Missing from the sharp end of the grid is Will Power. The Penske driver had topped both practice sessions earlier in the day, but had only just come out on track to set his first flying lap in his Round 1 group of qualifying when the red flags were waved for James Jakes, whose Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing #16 ground to a halt with mechanical problems in turn 7. With the session not resuming again before the clock ran out, Power will now have to overcome a 22nd grid position and salvage what he can from the race.
"Tough break today to not be able to qualify the way we wanted, its especially bad because the Verizon car had been so quick all day," sighed Power. "We felt pretty good going into the qualifying and unfortunately didn't have time to run the lap we wanted
"Now we turn the focus to doing the best we can tomorrow and getting the most out of the points," he added.