Takuma Sato claimed his third pole position of his IZOD IndyCar Series career by setting the fastest time in qualifying in Houston on Saturday to reward his team owner AJ Foyt - motorsports icon and proud Texan - with a home pole.

It's the former F1 driver's first pole in the series since he started from the front at Edmonton in 2011. He is seeking to add his second win in the championship after having previously become the first Japanese driver to win in IndyCar when he claimed the chequered flag at Long Beach in April.

Will Power still start alongside Sato on the front row for a standing start in the 90-lap Saturday afternoon race on the 1.683-mile, 10-turn temporary street course. The second row will see Scott Dixon start alongside Simon Pagenaud.

Despite the fact that the cars were still at risk of being launched into the air by the problematic bump in turn 1, qualifying went ahead without the temporary tyre chicane that had been in place on Friday with drivers confident of their ability to driver around the problem.

With the usual elimination/Firestone Fast 6 format shelved because of the problems with turn 1, qualifying instead consisted of a half-hour session on Saturday morning split between two groups to allow each driver up to 12 minutes to set their fastest lap. The fastest of all won pole position, with the fastest driver in the other group being awarded the second front row position. The other cars line up behind their group winner in the order of their final times.

Group 1 was curtailed when Tristan Vautier hit the wall hard at turn 10 and brought out a red flag, but Will Power still ensured he would be on the front row with a time of 1:01.1524s (96.192mph) which was over a third of a second clear of Sebastien Bourdais, who is one of three drivers with a grid penalty for race 1 as a result of an engine change.

However, Vauter's accident left Group 1 with just five minutes of green track time even though the rule book stipulates ten, and as a consequence it was no surprise that the stoppage-free Group 2 runners were able to go markedly faster in their session with Takuma Sato setting a blistering time of 1:00.4535s (97.304mph) to pip Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud not only for group honours but also for race 1 pole.

The first race of the double-header weekend has been pushed back slightly and is currently due to get underway at 3pm local time (9pm BST).

Qualifying (1) times

Group 1

1. #12 Will Power Penske (C) 96.192mph 1:01.1524s (4 laps)
2. #7 Sebastien Bourdais Dragon (C) 95.662mph 1:01.4911s + 0.3387s (3 laps)
3. #78 Simona De Silvestro KV Racing (C) 95.566mph 1:01.5527s + 0.4003s (4 laps)
4. #98 Luca Filippi BHA (H) 95.412mph 1:01.6520s + 0.4996s (3 laps)
5. #10 Dario Franchitti Ganassi (H) 95.307mph 1:01.7201s + 0.5677s (3 laps)
6. #25 Marco Andretti Andretti (C) 95.198mph 1:01.7907s + 0.6383s (4 laps)
7. #19 Justin Wilson Dale Coyne (H) 95.174mph 1:01.8065s + 0.6541s (4 laps)
8. #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti (C) 95.137mph 1:01.8305s + 0.6781s (4 laps)
9. #4 Oriol Servi? Panther (C) 95.023mph 1:01.9043s + 0.7519s (3 laps)
10. #67 Josef Newgarden SFHR (H) 94.634mph 1:02.1588s + 1.0064s (3 laps)
11. #3 Helio Castroneves Penske (C) 94.447mph 1:02.2823s + 1.1299s (5 laps)
12. #55 Tristan Vautier Schmidt (H) No time (1 laps)

Total laps: 41

Group 2

1. #14 Takuma Sato AJ Foyt (H) 97.304mph 1:00.4535s (6 laps)
2. #9 Scott Dixon Ganassi (H) 97.059mph 1:00.6057s + 0.1522s (10 laps)
3. #77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt (H) 97.039mph 1:00.6184s + 0.1649s (10 laps)
4. #27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti (C) 96.098mph 1:01.2123s + 0.7588s (9 laps)
5. #5 EJ Viso Andretti-HVM (C) 95.917mph 1:01.3274s + 0.8739s (9 laps)
6. #16 James Jakes RLL (H) 95.854mph 1:01.3678s + 0.9143s (9 laps)
7. #18 Mike Conway Dale Coyne (H) 95.624mph 1:01.5154s + 1.0619s (8 laps)
8. #11 Tony Kanaan KV Racing (C) 95.584mph 1:01.5409s + 1.0874s (9 laps)
9. #83 Charlie Kimball Ganassi (H) 95.442mph 1:01.6329s + 1.1794s (10 laps)
10. #15 Graham Rahal RLL (H) 95.317mph 1:01.7134s + 1.2599s (10 laps)
11. #6 Sebastian Saavedra Dragon (C) 94.697mph 1:02.1175s + 1.6640s (10 laps)
12. #20 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter (C) 92.607mph 1:03.5193s + 3.0658s (6 laps)

Total laps: 106

Unofficial starting grid

1. #14 Takuma Sato AJ Foyt (H)
2. #12 Will Power Penske (C)
3. #9 Scott Dixon Ganassi (H)
4. #77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt (H)
5. #78 Simona De Silvestro KV Racing (C)
6. #27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti (C)
7. #98 Luca Filippi BHA (H)
8. #5 EJ Viso Andretti-HVM (C)
9. #16 James Jakes RLL (H)
10. #25 Marco Andretti Andretti (C)
11. #18 Mike Conway Dale Coyne (H)
12. #19 Justin Wilson Dale Coyne (H)
13. #11 Tony Kanaan KV Racing (C)
14. #7 Sebastien Bourdais * Dragon (C)
15. #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti (C)
16. #83 Charlie Kimball Ganassi (H)
17. #4 Oriol Servi? Panther (C)
18. #67 Josef Newgarden SFHR (H)
19. #6 Sebastian Saavedra Dragon (C)
20. #10 Dario Franchitti * Ganassi (H)
21. #3 Helio Castroneves Penske (C)
22. #20 Ed Carpenter ECR (C)
23. #55 Tristan Vautier Schmidt (H)
24. #15 Graham Rahal * RLL (H)

* Denotes 10 place grid drop for unapproved engine changePending any further grid penalties



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