By TALES AZZONI, Associated Press
SAO PAULO (AP) — Two-time race winner Will Power edged defending IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti to win the pole position for Sunday's Sao Paulo 300.
Power had a lap of 1 minute, 21.4045 seconds on the 2.5-mile, 11-turn Anhembi circuit on the streets of South America's biggest city, less than half a tenth of a second ahead of Franchitti, whose Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon will start third.
James Hinchcliffe, Ryan-Hunter Reay and Justin Wilson rounded the fastest six in qualifying on Saturday.
Power is trying to win his third straight race in Sao Paulo. The Australian also won the last two races heading into Brazil and is the series points leader.
"It was a good run," Power said. "We are giving ourselves the best opportunity for the first corner."
The Australian also won the last two races heading into Brazil and is the series points leader. He will try to give Penske its fourth straight race to start the season for the first time in team history in IndyCar.
Franchitti had been fastest in Saturday's practice but made a mistake in qualifying that he said was costly.
"The car is very good," he said. "I'm a little disappointed with myself, on that last lap I made a mistake."
Qualifying was run under overcast skies but dry conditions. Rain affected the first two races won by Power in Brazil. The inaugural event was postponed for a day and last year the race was cut short.
Some of the main changes to the track this year aimed to improve the drainage system at the street circuit. Officials also reduced a strong bump near the braking point for the first chicane, which drivers had complained about last year.
"It is much better now, they were able to fix that," said Helio Castroneves, who qualified only 20th for his home race.
It was the first time the cars were able to race after Honda was allowed to make changes to the turbochargers on its engines, giving the six teams using them an extra boost of power. Honda was permitted to make the change after a three-person panel on Thursday upheld an IndyCar decision against an appeal by Chevrolet.
Power has a Chevrolet in his Penske, but six drivers using Honda engines will start in the top 10 on Sunday.
"That helped as well," Franchitti said about the engine change.
Lotus also is supplying engines to teams this season. IndyCar has multiple engine manufacturers for the first time in seven years.
The best Brazilian driver was Tony Kanaan, who will start 12th. Kanaan's KV Racing teammate Rubens Barrichello, in his first race at home since joining IndyCar this season after a 19-year career in Formula One, will be just behind in 13th place.
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