Will Power will start his quest for a third straight Sao Paulo Indy 300 title from the pole position.
Power, who's also looking to win his third consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series event after victories earlier this month in Alabama and at Long Beach, threw down a 81.4045 second lap in the Firestone Fast Six to win his second pole of 2012. The Australian's run to P1 also saw him set a new single-lap qualifying record at Sao Paulo with a time of 81.2718 seconds in the second round.
In the last two, water-logged runnings of the IndyCars in Sao Paulo, Power has managed to come out on top. So far, the regular heavy rains have stayed away from the Anhembi Park street circuit, but the forecast for tomorrow's race (11 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) is a rather wet one -- which means that pole could prove even more critical to Power's hopes.
"[Winning the pole] was satisfying, especially knowing that Honda seems to have an advantage on the straights at the moment, so being on pole is a good start to the weekend," said Power, who now has 26 career poles. "I have a feeling it's going to be wet, or maybe wet-dry for the race so it will mix things up a lot."
But while all of the mojo appears to be working in Power's favor, a familiar rival may finally be able to take him on. Three-time defending champion Dario Franchitti has come out of the gate slow in 2012 with finishes of 13th, 10th and 15th in the first three events, but he'll be starting alongside Power on the front row tomorrow, missing Power by just four one-hundredths of a second in the Firestone Fast Six.
"I'm a bit disappointed in qualifying, especially because the time is in the car," Franchitti said. "On the first lap, Justin [Wilson] was in the runoff in the hairpin so I took it a bit easy there. And then the next lap I just messed it up to be honest, and I actually made up all of the time back again. The time was in the car, I didn't put it together."
After his rough start to the season though, Franchitti certainly doesn't mind having a front-row start.
"I'm a little disappointed in myself, but at the same time, I feel a lot more happy than I have in the last few races," he said.
The Fast Six was represented evenly with three Chevy-powered competitors (Power, James Hinchcliffe in fourth and Ryan Hunter-Reay in fifth) and three Honda-powered competitors (Franchitti, Scott Dixon in third and Justin Wilson in sixth), which would figure to be the ideal situation for the series after the turbocharger battle between the two manufacturers this week. On Thursday, a three-person panel upheld INDYCAR's decision to allow Honda to make a change to its compressor cover on its single-turbo layout.
But surely INDYCAR wouldn't have minded a couple of their Brazilian drivers in the FF6, either. Unfortunately for the sizable Sao Paulo crowd that turned out on Saturday, they'll have to look from the middle on back to see their fellow countrymen (and woman) at the start tomorrow.
Tony Kanaan will lead the Brazilian foursome from 12th on the grid and was the only one of the group to advance into the second round. Rubens Barrichello, perhaps the biggest reason why tomorrow's race is sold out, starts one spot back in 13th, but both Helio Castroneves (20th) and Ana Beatriz (21st) will have to come from deep in the pack.
"We have been chasing ourselves since the first practice...We made a ton of changes from the first to the second practice and then again from the second practice to qualifying," Kanaan said about his No. 11 KVRT Chevy's performance. "The car kept improving, but during qualifying, we made one change that did not go our way.
"We will keep working on the car overnight to get it ready for warm-up tomorrow and hopefully put on a good show for my fans and sponsors here in Brazil."
IZOD IndyCar Series
Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 pres. by Nestle
Anhembi Park -- Sao Paulo, Brazil
Position/(Car #)/Driver/Team-Engine/Time (Speed)
1. (12) Will Power, Penske-Chevy, 01:21.4045 (112.151)
2. (10) Dario Franchitti, Ganassi-Honda, 01:21.4485 (112.090)
3. (9) Scott Dixon, Ganassi-Honda, 01:21.8545 (111.534)
4. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Andretti-Chevy, 01:21.9956 (111.343)
5. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti-Chevy, 01:22.2408 (111.011)
6. (18) Justin Wilson, Coyne-Honda, 01:22.2681 (110.974)
7. (38) Graham Rahal, Ganassi-Honda, 01:21.8033 (111.604)
8. (14) Mike Conway, Foyt-Honda, 01:21.8122 (111.592)
9. (67) Josef Newgarden, SFHR-Honda, 01:21.8128 (111.591)
10. (2) Ryan Briscoe, Penske-Chevy, 01:21.8495 (111.541)
11. (26) Marco Andretti, Andretti-Chevy, 01:21.8498 (111.541)
12. (11) Tony Kanaan, KVRT-Chevy, 01:22.5210 (110.634)
13. (8) Rubens Barrichello, KVRT-Chevy, 01:22.3939 (110.804)
14. (5) EJ Viso, KVRT-Chevy, 01:22.1404 (111.146)
15. (4) JR Hildebrand, Panther-Chevy, 01:22.4321 (110.753)
16. (83) Charlie Kimball, Ganassi-Honda, 01:22.1973 (111.069)
17. (77) Simon Pagenaud, SHM-Honda, 01:22.4354 (110.749)
18. (19) James Jakes, Coyne-Honda, 01:22.3840 (110.818)
19. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dragon-Lotus, 01:23.1331 (109.819)
20. (3) Helio Castroneves, Penske-Chevy, 01:22.4143 (110.777)
21. (25) Ana Beatriz, Andretti-Chevy, 01:23.2692 (109.640)
22. (20) Ed Carpenter, ECR-Chevy, 01:22.9424 (110.072)
23. (78) Simona de Silvestro, HVM-Lotus, 01:23.6762 (109.106)
24. (22) Oriol Servia, DRR-Lotus, 01:23.4509 (109.401)
25. (6) Katherine Legge, Dragon-Lotus, 01:24.6042 (107.910)
26. (15) Takuma Sato, RLL-Honda, No Time (No Speed)