Will Power put Penske at the top of the timesheets for Sunday afternoon's 85-lap Honda Indy Toronto, extending the Australian's clean sweep of road and street courses in 2011 with his fifth pole of the year and a time of 59.5771 in the final shootout, 0.0875s ahead of Scott Dixon.

"Man, we really had to work hard for that in the Verizon car. It's really good to win a pole here. I've never won a pole here in Toronto and I love this place," said Power afterwards. "This is such a physical track - it's a real driver's track with all the different surfaces and all the bumps, you really need to wring it's neck out there and that's what I love about it. When you turn a fast lap here, you're really just exhausted."

However, he sounded a note of caution to anyone thinking it would be possible for him to run away and hide during the race: "It's great to be on pole here but this is a track where you can really pass a lot of cars and move forward from the back," he insisted. "We still have a lot of work to do tomorrow."

But while Power's dominance was irrefutable, it seemed to be rather down to the man himself and not the Penske team as a whole, with both his team mates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves failing to make it through to the final shootout.

"Unfortunately, we just had a dissapointing second session of qualifying," said Briscoe. "We were strong in the first session ... we didn't touch the car, but when we went back out we just lost a ton of rear grip. It's tough to not make it into the Fast Six, but we'll make sure we have a good car for the race tomorrow and see how we can work our way forward."

"We had a good lap going in the Penske Truck Rental car, unfortunately we went a little too far in what we were trying to do," explained Castroneves for his part. "We definitely have a car that is better than 12th on the starting grid. We have been quick all weekend. Tomorrow should be good, though. We just need to have a good day in the pits, drive smart and let the race come to us."

With five different teams represented in the Firestone Fast Six final shootout, Ganassi were the only team to put two drivers in to the final round, and Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti finished second and third respectively and will be hot on Power's heels come the green flag for the race.

"Both Target cars were good ... just missed a little," said Dixon, disappointed not to head off Power's latest pole position. "We had a tenth on the last lap and I gave it back on turns five and six. At least we're in the hunting distance of the #12 car."

"It's tough out there, it's very close," said Franchitti for his part. "I think my car was pretty fast, I just had to get into that rhythm of making that brake in that one place," he continued, saying that here was nothing amiss with the performance of the car and instead taking the blame for missing pole on himself. "I just missed a little bit and you can see the difference."

Sebastian Bourdais was also delighted despite just missing the top six cut, seventh place on the grid being a major leap forward for Dale Coyne Racing on the first four road course events that Bourdais contested for the team. But Justin Wilson was less happy with 11th place on the grid for Dreyer & Reinbold: after strong showings in practice and in Round 1, like Ryan Briscoe he was confused by how the performance of the car suddenly fell off in the Top 12 Round 2 shootout when no changes had been made to the car between sessions.

James Hinchcliffe was especially disappointed to fail to make it through Round 1 at his home event and said that his runs has been frustrated by traffic, telemetry problems and by yellow flags for Charlie Kimball getting into trouble.

"If we had a P13 car, I wouldn't be disappointed, but we didn't have a 13th placed car. We just couldn't get a lap when we needed it," he said. "One of the problems we had was the telemetry on the car failed so we didn't know how much fuel we have left in the car so when I crossed the line, there was enough time for one more lap, but we didn't know if we had a enough fuel, and the last thing you want to do is run out of gas."

Like the rest of his KV Racing Technology team mates, Tony Kanaan also failed to make it through to the Top 12 round. In his case, he blamed traffic: "On my fast lap I got blocked twice and missed out on moving up to Q2. I believe that I had a top-six car, so it's a shame that we're going to start mid-pack."

Part of Kanaan's problem was that none of the cars came out for the first several minutes of the short 15-minute session to take advantage of a clear tracked, and instead all flooded out at the same time and started to fall over each other as time started to tick away. Kanaan's final flying lap was clearly held up by Vitor Meira and EJ Viso, but the real problem was Paul Tracy's Dragon car losing power in the final moments and rolling to a halt.

"Extremely frustrated with how today went," said Canada's IndyCar favourite, veteran star Paul Tracy. "[My] car was pretty good, but we were not able to get a clear lap during qualifying. Every time I had a good lap I came up to traffic and could not get past, which made it frustrating. This is not where we want to start, but tomorrow we will try to do something different than everybody else and cycle our way up to the front."

It was a mixed day for Andretti Autosport, with Mike Conway shining in fourth just 0.0326s off Franchitti's third place time, Ryan Hunter-Reay a decent eighth place, but the team's Iowa Speedway winner Marco Andretti back in 20th just in front of his team mate Danica Patrick.

"It's disappointing really," admitted Hunter-Reay. "We threw a change at it there, and I just couldn't get a lap together. It was a mixture of things. This track is hard to put together with all the bumps. From eighth, we can work from there, and that's what we'll do."

"I'm obviously disappointed with the qualifying results for the #26 car," said Marco, coming off the high of his second series victory. "I'm really struggling to find the back end of the car on entry that works for me. We'll work on it tonight and the race is a different story - a lot can happen here in 85 laps."

Danica confessed to being "a little surprised by our speed" but insisted that the #7 car felt okay despite the lack of pace. "As we saw last year, you can still put together a decent race if you stay out of trouble and stay patient."

Conquest's Sebastian Saavedra may have only qualified in 15th place, but a sub-one minute lap time was a staggering improvement of more two seconds from his practice laps and he was clearly delighted with the upturn in his fortunes. Meanwhile, Dale Coyne Racing's English driver James Jakes looked a lot happier to be on a street circuit after finding the recent weeks on oval a tough and occasionally bruising learning experience.

In the one hour Saturday morning practice sessions preceding qualifying, Mike Conway topped the time sheets but then slid into the tyre wall at turn 8 bringing out a full course yellow. Fortunately the #27 needed only a front wing change and the suspension was undamaged, allowing Conway to return to action later in the session. Ana Beatriz also made contact with the barrier during the session and damaged the bodywork of the Dreyer & Reinbold but not too seriously and it was repaired by qualifying.

The race is scheduled to start at 2.50pm local time on Sunday afternoon and will consist of 85 laps of the 1.755-mile, 11-turn circuit of the streets of Toronto. British television coverage is via the Sky Sports satellite subscription channels.

The full starting grid, times and positions for all qualifying and practice sessions on Saturday are available.

 

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