ICS Qual. UPDATE - 4 Of The Top 8 Are Transition Players
**Graham Rahal became the youngest IndyCar Series pole winner at 20 years, 90 days when the reigning race champion took the PEAK Pole Award presented by AutoZone with a quick lap of 1 minute, 02.4110 seconds on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit.
Former **Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammate Justin Wilson (1:02.4604) will join Rahal on the front row. Wilson, who won on the temporary Belle Isle street circuit last August, gave Dale Coyne Racing its best open-wheel racing starting position.
Tony Kanaan, who has participated in 15 of the 17 Firestone Fast Six sessions, will be on Row 2 with Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe. Dario Franchitti, making his debut with Target Chip Ganassi Racing's IndyCar Series team, will share Row 3 with team **Penske's Will Power.
Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will start eighth - on Row 4 with **Conquest Racing's Alex Tagliani.
An all CCWS refugee front row to start the show for the 2009 ICS season - WOW!
[editor's note: ** denotes Transition Player]
Pos Driver Team Time
**1. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m02.4110s
**2. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne 1m02.4604s
3. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 1m02.5307s
4. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m02.5699s
5. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m02.6927s
**6. Will Power Penske 1m02.7368s
**7. Alex Tagliani Conquest 1m02.6952s
8. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m02.9891s
9. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 1m03.1344s
10. Darren Manning Dreyer & Reinbold 1m03.3038s
11. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m03.4733s
12. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold -
**13. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m02.7934s
14. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 1m03.0223s
15. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 1m02.8268s
**16. EJ Viso HVM 1m03.0601s
17. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m02.9132s
18. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 1m03.3652s
19. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 1m03.3300s
**20. Mario Moraes KV 1m03.4520s
21. Stanton Barrett 3G 1m06.5934s
22. Ed Carpenter Vision 1m04.2416s
That's right, four of the top eight time placements around the street course in Saint Petersburg, Florida were former ChampCar World Series drivers. Last year, the teams and drivers that merged into the IndyCar Series (ICS) were at a disadvantage ... the equipment and track were new to them and spare parts were at a premium.
Last year's winner of this race, Graham Rahal, posted the fastest time, and one of the Transition Players who this year actually drives for one of the most respected Established Teams, Penske Racing's Will Power, placed eighth.
Rahal tops second St Pete practice
Last year's race winner Graham Rahal led the way in the second Friday practice session for the IndyCar Series opener at St Petersburg.
The Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver was followed by his 2008 team-mate Justin Wilson, who produced a spectacular performance for the small Dale Coyne Racing team by taking second, just 0.1803 seconds down on Rahal's time.
Morning practice pace-setter Dario Franchitti was third for Ganassi, having topped much of the second session, ahead of HVM's EJ Viso and Andretti Green's Tony Kanaan, who had missed all of first practice.
Ryan Briscoe (Penske) and champion Scott Dixon (Ganassi) both had excursions on their way to sixth and seventh, as did eighth-placed Will Power in the second Penske entry.
Pos Driver Team Time [edit: ** denotes Transition Player]
**1. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m03.4078s
**2. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne 1m03.5881s + 0.1803s
3. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m03.7007s + 0.2929s
**4. EJ Viso HVM 1m03.8156 + 0.4078s
5. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 1m03.8454s + 0.4376s
6. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m03.8603s + 0.4525s
7. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m04.0071s + 0.5993s
**8. Will Power Penske 1m04.0851s + 0.6773s
9. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m04.1641s + 0.7563s
10. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 1m04.2777s + 0.8699s
11. Darren Manning Dreyer & Reinbold 1m04.2820s + 0.8742s
12. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m04.3041s + 0.8963s
**13. Alex Tagliani Conquest 1m04.5407s + 1.1329s
14. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 1m04.5955s + 1.1877s
15. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 1m04.6573s + 1.2495s
**16. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m04.7011s + 1.2933s
**17. Mario Moraes KV 1m04.7751s + 1.3673s
18. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 1m04.7968s + 1.3890s
19. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m04.9190s + 1.5112s
20. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 1m04.9882s + 1.5804s
21. Ed Carpenter Vision 1m06.0942s + 2.6864s
22. Stanton Barrett 3G 1m10.3202s + 6.9124s
The merger of the open wheel racing series last year is really beginning to pay dividends in terms of the strength of competition and blend of driving styles. This season promises to be one of the most exciting of this decade.
Streets of St. Petersburg Qualifying Race: Saturday @ 5ET LIVE Race: Sunday @ 2ET The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg marks the 14th season of IndyCar Series competition. This will be the first time the series will begin its season in St. Pete and the first time it will open on a temporary street course.
... notes from The EDJE