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Alabama - Qualifying times

Once again, no one was keen to be first out on track and it wasn't until the six minutes-to-go mark that the cars streamed out of pit road en masse.

There was one car that still wasn't coming out to play, however: Ryan Briscoe's car was still stuck in its pit box with its sidepod off as the Penske team grappled to fix a clutch control issue that was preventing the car getting underway in first gear. They ran out of time in the session before they were able to track down the gremlin.

The session was building to a climax, with Will Power looking on his way to set a blistering fastest lap in the final two minutes of the session when Ryan Hunter-Reay overcooked it through turn 9 and spun his Andretti Autosport #28 out of the exit, clouting the arnco barrier with the rear of the car and damaging his rear wing. Although he was eventually able to limp back to the pits, the incident brought out a red flag.

"I got too greedy," he said. "Completely my fault ... Fine line between hero and zero with qualifying."

The red flag had two major repercussions: Hunter-Reay lost his fastest times for causing the stoppage, meaning that he will start alongside Briscoe on the sixth row of the grid for Sunday's race. And the red flag came out while Power was still on that fast lap, so the time he set (1:09.7547s) ultimately didn't count and Power was left in ninth place with no time to get back out on track before the chequered flag ended proceedings.

1. Helio Castroneves Penske-Chevrolet 118.419mph 1:09.921s (3 laps)
2. James Hinchcliffe Andretti-Chevrolet 117.876mph 1:10.243s + 0.322s (3 laps)
3. JR Hildebrand Panther-Chevrolet 117.74mph 1:10.324s + 0.403s (3 laps)
4. Mike Conway AJ Foyt-Honda 117.456mph 1:10.495s + 0.573s (3 laps)
5. Tony Kanaan KV Racing-Chevrolet 117.302mph 1:10.587s + 0.666s (3 laps)
6. Scott Dixon Ganassi-Honda 116.176mph 1:11.271s + 1.350s (2 laps)
7. EJ Viso KV Racing-Chevrolet 115.763mph 1:11.526s + 1.605s (2 laps)
8. Graham Rahal Ganassi-Honda 115.668mph 1:11.584s + 1.663s (3 laps)
9. Will Power Penske-Chevrolet 114.984mph 1:12.010s + 2.089s (2 laps)
10. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt-Hamilton-Honda 111.464mph 1:14.284s + 4.363s (2 laps)
11. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti-Chevrolet No time (2 laps)
12. Ryan Briscoe Penske-Chevrolet No time (0 laps)

Round 3 - Firestone Fast Six

Despite the warning lessons of round 2, cars still hesitated to come out on track until the final possible moment. Tony Kanaan went top with 1:11.3740s initially but he was playing the tyre strategy cars and saved using his red-wall tyres, consequently soon retiring to pit lane and leaving the big hitters to get to work.

With everyone on red-wall tyres in this session, Helio Castroneves went top with a 1:10.4768 just 0.0454s ahead of James Hinchcliffe and Scott Dixon less than a hundredth of a second slower than the Canadian.

The quick tyre fall-off together with the shortness of available track time meant that no one was able to improve further, although Scott Dixon lost the rear end and spun the #9 Ganassi in turn 5, just stopping it from hitting the wall. He was fortunate tht it happened after the chequered flag and in a spot which did not tribber a red flag or he two could have risked losing his fastest times.

1. Helio Castroneves Penske-Chevrolet 117.485mph 1:10.477s (5 laps)
2. James Hinchcliffe Andretti-Chevrolet 117.41mph 1:10.522s + 0.045s (3 laps)
3. Scott Dixon Ganassi-Honda 117.398mph 1:10.529s + 0.052s (4 laps)
4. Mike Conway AJ Foyt-Honda 116.819mph 1:10.879s + 0.402s (4 laps)
5. JR Hildebrand Panther-Chevrolet 116.495mph 1:11.076s + 0.599s (4 laps)
6. Tony Kanaan KV Racing-Chevrolet 116.009mph 1:11.374s + 0.897s (5 laps)

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
James Hinchcliffe tries to stay warm at a chilly Kentucky Speedway [Photo credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
Simon Penske - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar media/Bret Kelley]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Will Power - Penske  [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson [credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [image credit: IndyCar Media/Bret Kelley]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson [Credit: IndyCar]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson [Credit: Jim Haines/IndyCar]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar/Bret Kelly]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar/Bret Kelly]
Simon Pagenaud - Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar Series]
Simon Pagenaud - Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar Series]
Simon Pagenaud - Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar Series]

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