Stephen Camp  |    |   0  |  9 March 2019

Will Power leads Team Penske front-row lockout in St. Petersburg

Will Power claimed his 55th career pole position for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after a tight and initially scrappy, qualifying session which saw team-mate Josef Newgarden qualify alongside him to lock out the on the front row for Team Penske.

The experienced Australian kept a cool head throughout qualifying to claim his 55th pole position in IndyCar in an incident-filled afternoon which saw plenty of incidents and penalties handed out across the field.

Chip Ganassi Racing's rookie driver Felix Rosenqvist made it into the Firestone Fast Six for the first time in his IndyCar career and beat reigning champion team-mate Scott Dixon in the process to complete the second row.

Dixon shocked fans on the opening weekend of the season as he nearly failed to make it further than the first group of qualifying, after an uncharacteristic spin on his first flying lap on sticker red Firestone tyres he then fell to seventh. Once the session had finished Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan's Takuma Sato was dropped from Group 1 after causing a local yellow flag which led to the Japanese driver to have his time deleted. This allowed Dixon to carry on in qualifying.

Ryan Hunter-Reay tried to continue the good form from the end of the 2018 season after getting into the Firestone Fast Six and had been near the top of the times all weekend long, but had to settle for fifth on the grid for Sunday's race.

Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi looked set to challenge for the pole, however, the Californian locked up going into Turn 13 on his first flying lap and ran wide which spoilt the best of his tyres. He managed to cross the line with barely a second to spare and get a lap in, but he still was left as the slowest of the Firestone Fast Six.

Jack Harvey will line seventh on the grid in the #60 Meyer Shank Racing entry with Charlie Kimball in eighth to keep him company on the fourth row.

Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe couldn't quite get the #5 car to hook around the tricky St. Petersburg circuit in order to move further up the grid, the Canadian driver will start ninth with Graham Rahal alongside him in tenth.

Colton Herta appeared to have made it inside the Fast Six on his IndyCar debut but was dropped from the session after he picked up a penalty for blocking Kimball's lap earlier in the session and had his top time deleted; sadly his next best lap will saw him drop to 11th where he will start with DragonSpeed's Ben Hanley on row six.

The new (for IndyCar) American team enjoyed a great start to their part-time campaign in 12th, having only completed a shakedown test at Sebring just days before arriving in St.Petersburg.

Four-time IndyCar series champion Sebastien Bourdais will start at the back of the grid after two red flags in the first group of qualifying left the Frenchman unable to set a lap time, Penske's Simon Pagenaud will also join his compatriot towards the back for the same reason.

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will get the 2019 NTT IndyCar season underway at 1:30pm ET.



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