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Qualifying washed out but Race 2 is on

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Water flies from behind Conor Daly's car during Grand Prix Race 2 qualifying on Sunday on Belle Isle.

Detroit – The drivers did go out and compete in rainy conditions Sunday morning during qualifying for Race No. 2 of the Chevrolet Indy Car Dual of Detroit on Belle Isle.

But, in the end, only one group had the chance to come close to competing during the entire 20-minute session. The second group's session was cancelled after just minutes due to standing rain, resulting in Race No. 2 having its starting lineup decided by drivers' points, with the front row made up of Team Penske drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power, with Row 3 consisting of Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves and Chip Ganassi driver Scott Dixon.

"It's definitely good to start at the front, especially if it starts wet since it's very difficult to see in the back of the pack," said Power. "I think it will be kind of a mixed-up race, start probably wet and then dry out."

Race 2, which is set to start at 3:50 p.m., could look a lot like Saturday's Race No. 1 when Carlos Munoz used slick tires to gain valuable time when the track went dry while the majority of the other drivers were still using rain tires.

Power thinks the race will start as scheduled: "If the radar is accurate we should be able to. When we went out (second group for qualifying), it rained a little bit heavier and there was a sheet of water on the track."

The series originally reduced its qualifying to one round due to the weather – rain and cold temperatures with low 50s, down from highs in the 70s Saturday – putting two separate 20-minute sessions for two groups of drivers. Normally, the top six drivers from each of the two groups advance from Round 1 to Round 2 and then battle to make it to yet another round, called the Fast Six, to fight for the pole.

Rookie Sage Karam of Chip Ganassi Racing topped the first group (1:36.452) and was followed by Simon Pagenaud, Dixon, Race No. 1 winner Munoz, Indy 500 winner Montoya, and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The first group's session was actually cut short due to James Jakes' accident, causing a red flag.

So, the biggest loser turned out to be Karam, who went from potentially sitting on the pole to starting 20th. Munoz will start 10th.

Montoya said drivers back in the field and also back in points could gamble on tires, like Marco Andretti and Munoz did Saturday.

"The guys in the back, same thing as yesterday, they don't have anything to lose, and the guys who are running for points do," Montoya said before Sunday's race. "For us, you have to be aggressive, but you have to be smart about it because the last thing you need to do is throw it away."

Juan Pablo Montoya waits under an umbrella in his car during qualifying Sunday.