Kanaan Captures St. Pete Pole

One week after losing the IndyCar Series season opener when he brushed a spinning backmarker in the closing laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Tony Kanaan proved he will be one of the drivers to beat for the championship by winning the pole for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Kanaan ran a lap of 1:02.5322, 103.627 mph, to prevail in the new three-round Firestone Fast Six format.

"It was tough," said the driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Honda Dallara. "I think the IndyCar Series is so competitive now that you have to give everything. When I finished the qualifying run, I was exhausted. With more good drivers, it makes it a lot more difficult. It makes me proud. I had to sweat to get this one done."

Drivers for teams transitioning from the Champ Car World Series took five of the top 10 positions, along with quick time in qualifying.

KV Racing Racing driver Will Power actually set the fastest time of the day in the second of three sessions, 104.288 mph. However, times in the new format do not carry over from round to round, and will start on the outside of the first row in the No. 8 KV Racing Technologies Honda Dallara after running 103.499 mph in the final round.

Newman/Haas Lanigan Racing's Justin Wilson qualified third (103.444 mph), followed by Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves (103.438 mph) and Ryan Briscoe (103.338 mph), and Rahal Letterman's Ryan Hunter-Reay (102.845 mph).

Ex-Champ Car drivers took three of the next four positions. KV's Oriol Servia will start seventh (103.279, followed by Target Chip Ganassi's Dan Wheldon (103.191 mph), Newman/Haas/Lanigan's Graham Rahal (103.165 mph) and Conquest's Franck Perera (103.062 mph).

Rahal will be making his IRL debut after sitting out the Homestead round due to a crash in testing.

Homestead winner Scott Dixon saw a 25-race streak qualifying in the top 10 snapped. He will go off 13th after missing the Firestone Fast Six - used on IRL road courses - for the first time. Danica Patrick also went out early and will start 19th.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is set to start at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPN.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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