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St Petersburg - Qualifying times

24 March 2012

Qualifying consisted of half the field running in the 15 minute Group 1 and the other half in Group 2, with the top six from each group progressing to the ten minute Top 12 session, and the top six then going through to the shootout Firestone Fast Six round.

Round 1 - Group 1

Group 1 saw four of the five Lotus cars running, but none of them troubled the top six positions at the chequered flag. Otherwise, engine manufacturer honours were evenly split with three Honda and three Chevrolet-powered cars moving into round 2.

Lotus Dragon Racing's Katherine Legge got into the tyre wall at the end of the session but was able to be recovered without the need for a full course red flag.

Drivers eliminated:

7. EJ Viso KV Racing Technology (C) 1:02.5146s
8. Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan (H) 1:02.6015s
9. Alex Tagliani Bryan Herta Autosport (L) 1:02.6506s
10. Josef Newgarden Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (H) 1:02.7155s
11. Simona de Silvestro HVM (L) 1:02.8218s
12. Oriol Servia Dreyer & Reinbold (L) 1:02.8771s
13. Katherine Legge Lotus Dragon Racing (L) 1:03.6048s

Round 1 - Group 2

Other than Ed Carpenter, the drivers left it very late to come out on track in group 2 and there was little activity until past the midway point of the 15 minute time allocation.

James Jakes triggered a brief yellow wit a harmless spin, but Sebastien Bourdais triggered a full course red flag in the final seconds after spinning into the tyre wall and stalling the car. The early end to the session meant that several drivers - including Rubens Barrichello - were thwarted on their final flying lap attempts.

Drivers eliminated:

7. Rubens Barrichello KV Racing Technology (C) 1:02.2009s
8. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing (H) 1:02.2538s
9. JR Hildebrand Panther Racing (C) 1:02.4426s
10. James Jakes Dale Coyne Racing (H) 1:02.5271s
11. Charlie Kimball Ganassi (H) 1:03.0437s
12. Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing (C) 1:03.3591s
13. Sebastien Bourdais Lotus Dragon Racing (L) 1:05.6858s

Round 2

Although honours had appeared relatively even among the engine manufacturers to this point, round 2 delivered a major wake-up call to Honda when all but one of their cars failed to progress. All three main Ganassi drivers (Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Graham Rahal) were outside the top six, leaving them watching the pole shootout from the pit lane and discussing among themselves just how much performance the Chevrolet teams had been hiding up till now.

Penske's Helio Castroneves had a hard hit against the barrier in the closing moments, the hardest hit the new DW12 had yet been seen to receive. Penske were able to get the car running during the interval before the final pole shootout with the application of hammers and duct tape.

Drivers eliminated:

7. Scott Dixon Ganassi (H) 1:01.7636s
8. Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport (C) 1:01.7895s
9. Tony Kanaan KV Racing Technology (C) 1:01.8699s
10. Dario Franchitti Ganassi (H) 1:01.9570s
11. Graham Rahal Ganassi (H) 1:02.0233s
12. Mike Conway AJ Foyt Racing (H) 1:02.5084s

Round 3 - Firestone Fast Six

Helio Castroneves was able to run in the final round but was over six tenths off the pace of his Penske team mate Will Power, who set a new course record in an IndyCar with a time of 1:01.3721s. The third member of the Penske family, Ryan Briscoe, starts alongside Power on the front row for Sunday's race despite having to contend with technical gremlins in the first half of the ten minute shootout.

Firestone Fast Six times:

1. Will Power Penske (C) 1:01.3721s
2. Ryan Briscoe Penske (C) 1:01.5357s + 0.1636s
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport (C) 1:01.9321s + 0.5600s
4. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport (C) 1:01.9701s + 0.5980s
5. Helio Castroneves Penske (C) 1:01.9987s + 0.6266s
6. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt-Hamilton (H) 1:02.1095s + 0.7374s


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