|Australian Formula Indy driver Will Power of Team Penske powers his car during the IZOD IndyCar World Championship Sao Paulo Indy 300 qualifying session in Sao Paulo April 28, 2012. Power captured the pole position for the IZOD IndyCar World Championship Sao Paulo Indy 300 race which be held tomorrow. REUTERS/Junior Lago
Sao Paulo, Brazil - Will Power continued Team Penske's perfect season in the IZOD IndyCar Series on Saturday by winning the pole for the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in record fashion.
Power, who has won the first two IndyCar races on the streets of Sao Paulo, turned a lap around the 2.6-mile, 11-turn circuit in 1 one minute, 21.4045 seconds, which broke his previous record of 1:21.8958, set last year.
It was Power's 26th career IndyCar pole, placing him in a tie with Dario Franchitti for ninth overall on the series' pole winners list.
"Being on pole is a good start to the weekend," Power said. "I have a feeling it's going to be wet or maybe wet-dry for this race, so it will mix things up a lot."
Unlike the weather problems for qualifying and the race in Brazil the past two years, there was no rain during this qualifying session. However, the forecast for Sunday's 75-lap race calls for a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms.
Penske has claimed the victory in each of the first three races this season, with Helio Castroneves winning in St. Petersburg, Florida and Power taking the checkered flag in Birmingham, Alabama and then Long Beach, California.
The team has also won the pole for each of the four races this year.
Power edged Franchitti and his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, for the top starting position. Franchitti's lap was only 0.044 seconds slower than Power's lap.
Franchitti, the three-time defending IndyCar champion, will start on the front row for the second consecutive race.
"We off-loaded with a good car and made some improvements to it," he said. "I'm a bit disappointed in qualifying, especially because the time is in the car. The time was in the car, and I didn't put it together. So 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."
Dixon rebounded from running off course in turn nine late in the final session (Fast Six) to post the third quickest time in 1:21.8545. He will share row two with Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe, who is the only driver to qualify for the Fast Six in all four races this season.
"I guess four is the number of the day - fourth place and fourth time in the Firestone Fast Six," Hinchcliffe said. "We were 11th in the first practice, sixth in the second and now we qualified fourth. We're steadily improving, and if we can keep that trend up for the race, we're looking good."
Hinchcliffe's teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Justin Wilson from Dale Coyne Racing will start from the third row.
Graham Rahal placed his Ganassi car seventh on the starting grid, followed by Mike Conway from A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Josef Newgarden, who is in his rookie season with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, and Ryan Briscoe from Penske.
The four Brazilians competing in this race did not fare well in qualifying in front of their home crowd. Tony Kanaan from KV Racing Technology qualified 12th, one spot better than his teammate and fellow compatriot Rubens Barrichello, who is a rookie in IndyCar this season after spending the past 19 years in Formula One.
Castroneves had a disappointing qualifying run with a 20th-place finish. He placed one spot better than Sao Paulo-native Ana Beatriz, who is making her first start this season with Michael Andretti's team.
Takuma Sato did not participate in qualifying due to an engine change. Sato's Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing team couldn't make the change in time for the start of qualifying. He will start from the rear of the 26-car field.
Power enters this race with a 24-point lead in the championship standings.
The Sao Paulo Indy 300 is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. (et).