Justin Wilson takes Toronto pole
Justin Wilson won his first IndyCar Series pole to end Team Penske's streak at eight Saturday in the Honda Indy Toronto, turning a series track-record lap of 104.827 mph on the 11-turn, 1.755-mile street circuit.
Wilson, the winner from the pole in the 2006 Champ Car race at the tight and bumpy Exhibition Place track, gave owner Dreyer & Reinbold Racing its first IndyCar pole since Sarah Fisher led the field at Kentucky Speedway in 2002.
''We've had a couple of tough races, so to come back and get the pole here is just fantastic,'' Wilson said. ''Everyone at Dreyer & Reinbold has worked so hard.
''It's a good weekend so far. We have to keep it up. We'll keep pushing for the race. It's easy in this stage to sit back and relax, but we have a lot of work to do.''
Wilson saved a set of red-lined tires - the softer and less durable of the two Firestone models - for the 10-minute, six-car qualifying finale.
''That was the move of the day,'' said Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay, the fourth-place qualifier at 103.847. ''We couldn't beat him after that.''
Wilson is the first driver to reach the final six-car session - called the Fast Six - without using a set of the red tires in the first two segments since the alternate-tire program was introduced last season.
''I was OK with the first round,'' the Englishman said. ''The second round, I was a little nervous, but the car was that fast that we pulled it off.''
The teams are required to use both the red and harder black-lined tires in the 85-lap race Sunday. They are limited to three sets of reds and six blacks for the three days of practice, qualifying and racing.
Penske's Will Power, the series leader and a three-time winner this season on street and road courses, qualified second at 104.505.
''We definitely got the car better for qualifying, but Justin was very quick and tough to beat,'' Power said. ''I'm not sure I could have beaten him this time. I know I made a mistake at the end of my lap, but that was a tough qualifying session. I'm exhausted. ... I feel good about tomorrow. I'm not sure what will happen with the weather. Rain always stirs things up, but we will take it as it comes.''
Penske's Helio Castroneves (103.887) qualified third.
''We ended up being more safe than taking a chance using our second set of reds on qualifying,'' Castroneves said.
Dario Franchitti, the winner last year in Toronto en route to the season title, qualified fifth at 103.663. He also won a Champ Car race in Toronto in 1999.
''I normally wouldn't be happy with my position, but after practice yesterday and today, I'm very happy to be in the position I'm in,'' said Franchitti, the Indianapolis 500 winner in late May for Chip Ganassi Racing. ''Unfortunately, when it came to the Fast Six, we had already used our reds.''
Andretti's Danica Patrick (102.802) was 12th.
''I was pleased with our qualifying run,'' Patrick said. ''It was great to advance out of our group, which had a lot of good cars in it. Today was a good step in the right direction. I'm happy ... and hopefully we can have a decent day tomorrow.''