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Will Power wins pole position for Long Beach Grand Prix

Australian Will Power will start in the pole position for Sunday's Long Beach Grand Prix. Ryan Hunter-Reay was second, Mike Conway third.

April 16, 2011|By Jim Peltz
  • Grand Prix of Long Beach pole winner Will Power, left, talks with front-row qualifier Ryan Hunter-Reay on Saturday in the garage area.
Grand Prix of Long Beach pole winner Will Power, left, talks with front-row… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

Will Power won the pole position for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the third consecutive year that the Australian has started first in the Izod IndyCar Series race.

Power also has captured the pole for all three of the series' races so far this season, and he won the second race, last weekend, at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.

The Team Penske driver said: "We've put ourselves in the best possible position" for Sunday's race. But he noted the field's close qualifying times: "It's going to be a tough day tomorrow."

Power won the pole with a lap of 102.582 mph around the 11-turn, 1.97-mile seaside course Saturday. Ryan Hunter-Reay of the Andretti Autosport team, who won the Long Beach Grand Prix last year, was second at 102.469 mph.

"We won from there [in second] last year so hopefully we can repeat," Hunter-Reay said.

Mike Conway qualified third in the 27-car field and Oriol Servia was fourth. Power's Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe finished sixth and 12th, respectively. Danica Patrick qualified 20th. Charlie Kimball of Camarillo was 24th.

Power won the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2008, the last year the race was sanctioned by the Champ Car World Series. Champ Car then merged with IndyCar to form a single U.S. open-wheel series.

One oddity: Neither of the powerful Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars qualified in the top six. Dario Franchitti, the 2009 Long Beach winner and reigning IndyCar champion, was seventh, and his teammate Scott Dixon was eighth. Franchitti also won this year's season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"Everyone is surprised" the Ganassi team didn't qualify higher, said Justin Wilson, who will start fifth. "They're always so strong. It just shows you, you can't miss a beat."

Wheldon entry

Dan Wheldon, who won the Indianapolis 500 and the series title in 2005 but failed to secure a full-time ride this season, will at least be entered again in this year's Indy 500.

Wheldon, 32, and Bryan Herta Autosport announced that the British driver would drive the team's car in the Memorial Day weekend classic.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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