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Qualifying Report: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—There’s only one way to go for A.J. Foyt’s ABC Supply Racing team tomorrow – forward.

Unusual circumstances in the qualifying session today resulted in the team cars starting side by side in the 11th row of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Kanaan never posted an official lap time due to ill timing and two red flags that stopped track action in the critical last six minutes of the 10-minute session. First Marco Andretti brought out a red flag when he spun and came to rest in pit lane. The track went green and Kanaan was set to lay down a lap only to have another red flag wave--this time for Santino Ferrucci’s slide into the tire barrier which effectively shut down the track for the balance of the session.

Of the four cars that did not post an official lap time in the first group of 12 qualifiers, relative practice speeds were used, so Kanaan will start 21st.

“I can’t call this qualifying, we got two red flags so nobody ever put a fast lap in our group,” a disappointed Kanaan said. “The fastest lap was an out lap at a 1:03 and we were running .59s. It’s a shame but it was out of our control. We didn’t cause the red flags, but we just didn’t get a lap in.”

Matheus Leist, who did get a lap in during his group session, pitted for a second set of new tires, hoping to take advantage of the track which was getting faster with each passing minute as cars laid down more rubber. Leist had to lift as he was getting up to speed on his final set of red tires because Scott Dixon spun and then rejoined the field directly in front of Leist. Because Leist was not on his flying lap, Dixon was not penalized for impeding another driver.

Leist was philosophical about the situation preferring to focus on the race tomorrow where he will start alongside his teammate in the 22nd slot.

“It’s not the result we wanted in qualifying, we will be starting from the back tomorrow so we have a lot of work to do. Even so I’m looking forward to the race because it is a place that I like and I usually drive pretty good. So we’ll try to move to the front and have a good result tomorrow.”

Will Power won his eighth pole in 10 attempts here with a lap time of 1 minute, 0.4594 of a second (107.179 mph). Teammate Joseph Newgarden was second followed by rookie Felix Rosenqvist, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi.

The 110-lap race around the 1.8 mile, 14-turn street course will be broadcast live tomorrow on NBC Sports Network starting at 12:30pm ET.

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