Japan’s Sato grabs pole at Barber Motorsports Park

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IndyCar driver Takuma Sato is interviewed during IndyCar auto racing media day, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Stephen Spillman)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Takuma Sato will start from the pole at Barber Motorsports Park and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing grabbed the first two spots.

Sato claimed the eighth pole of his career on Saturday, beating out teammate Graham Rahal. It was Sato’s first pole since 2017 at Pocono. That’s the year the Japanese driver won the Indianapolis 500.

Team Penske was shut out of the Fast Six qualifying group for the first time since Long Beach in 2014.

Penske had dominated at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course, with six victories in nine years, but had rare qualifying struggles.

That included two-time winner and four-time pole sitter Will Power, two-time defending champion and series points leader Josef Newgarden, and Simon Pagenaud, who won in 2016.

Five-time race runner-up Scott Dixon qualified third, followed by James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais and Spencer Pigot. Pigot had never made the Fast Six.

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