Sato on Pole at St Petersburg

Takuma Sato won the pole for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg. While this may have been a shock a few days ago, it was almost expected today. The writing was on the wall for the Japanese driver. The formula had already been put together. The track was wet (advantage Sato), the Honda engines (advantage Sato) seem to have been faster this weekend, Sato himself was near the top of every practice session, and he started this race on the front row last year. Today, he won he Verizon P1 award.

The heavy rain and threat of severe weather moved qualifying back a few hours, but the drivers were just happy to have gotten it in. Tony Kanaan is getting off to a good start with his new team, as the Ganassi driver will start alongside Sato on the front row. Row two belongs to Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power, and row three features Scott Dixon and Marco Andretti. For Power, it’s his fifth straight year making the Firestone Fast Six. He has won the pole for this race the last four years.

There will be some quick cars starting in the back that will likely make their way to the front on Sunday. Guys like Sebastien Bourdais (starting 13th), Simon Pagenaud (14th), Justin Wilson (16th), Juan Montoya (18th), Graham Rahal (21st), and Josef Newgarden (22nd) have some work to do. Last year’s winner James Hinchcliffe will start 19th after making contact with the Turn 4 concrete barrier early in qualifying.

It was an impressive performance for rookies Jack Hawksworth and Carlos Munoz, who were bumped out of the Firestone Fast Six on their last lap during qualifying. The Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg will air on ABC tomorrow at 3 PM ET. You can watch highlights from today’s qualifying sessions on the video below, courtesy of IndyCar.

The full starting lineup for Sunday’s race can be found here.

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