- Associated Press - Saturday, July 9, 2011

TORONTO (AP) - Will Power will defend his title at the Honda Indy Toronto from the pole position.

Power posted a lap of 59.577 seconds on the 1.75-mile road course at Exhibition Place.

Scott Dixon will start second after turning a lap of 59.665 and Dario Franchitti is in the third position, clocking 59.900 in qualifying Saturday afternoon.

Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Quebec, was the top Canadian and will start in ninth place. Toronto rookie James Hinchcliffe finished 13th. Danica Patrick will start from the 21st spot.

Although Hinchcliffe was the top finishing rookie Saturday, the 24-year-old was disappointed in his qualifying result. He’s making his first start in the IndyCar finale after years on the junior formulas and a lifetime as a local fan watching from the grandstands.

“I guess it’s a sign of our competitiveness when as a rookie you’re angry to be 13th,” Hinchcliffe said. “But you always want to get the maximum performance out of your package and we didn’t do that today.

“Tomorrow is going to be about survival, this race often turns into a race of attrition and there’s definitely some places to pass. We know that tomorrow is a different day, and these races are very long and a lot can happen.”

The race is scheduled for Sunday.

Power, driving the No. 12 car for Team Penske, will be looking for his third victory in Toronto after taking the checkered flag also in 2007.

However, he says it won’t come easy, as Toronto is the kind of street circuit where mayhem happens and cars can surge from the rear of the pack.

“I don’t think qualifying is big deal because I really think you can come from the back and win this race,” Power said.

“It’s such a fun track because you absolutely wring the car’s neck in every possible way. On the brakes, on power, everywhere. It’s always fun.”

If it is possible to win the Toronto Indy from behind in the starting field, that’s promising news for the Canadian drivers.

Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Quebec, will start in ninth place, Hinchcliffe in 13th and local veteran Paul Tracy in the 24th position.

“You are never set in this particular race until the checkered flag drops,” Tagliani said. “You need to be pretty much on your toes here in Toronto. Anything can happen, and we’ll try to be on the right end of the strategy tomorrow.”

Also in the mix Sunday will be top-six qualifying finishers Mike Conway of Britain, American Graham Rahal and Hinchcliffe’s Newman/Haas Spanish teammate Oriol Servia. Brazilian Tony Kanaan will start 16th.

Franchitti leads the IndyCar championship with 303 points, 20 more than his rival Power and 73 more than Dixon.

Rahal, whose father Bobby Rahal took the checkered flag at the inaugural Toronto event 25 years ago, is hoping to capitalize on any mistakes and then make his move.

“You’re pushing people hard, hopefully they’ll make some mistakes and you can get around them. You can definitely race here that’s for sure.”

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