Marco Andretti has won pole position for the Fontana finale

Marco Andretti has secured pole position for the season-ending IndyCar Series round at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway in California, an event which will determine who out of Will Power or Ryan Hunter-Reay will win their inaugural championship title.

While the 500-mile race will be run under floodlights, the qualifying session was held in vastly different conditions, with the drivers faced with bright sunshine, warm track conditions, and fierce crosswinds which conspired to upset their cars’ handling.

Anretti’s qualifying slot came relatively early in the session when the wind conditions were perhaps at their best, but that didn’t stop the American – who has endured a rather poor 2012 season, it has to be said – from having a wild moment on his second flying lap.

He pipped Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe for top spot by the equivalent of just 0.0032 seconds, with the Australian starting one spot ahead of countryman and team-mate Will Power, who is perfectly positioned to claim championship glory after several seasons as the bridesmaid to outgoing champion, Dario Franchitti.

However, Power’s joy will prove short-lived. The championship aspirant is one of a mammoth fourteen drivers hit with a ten-place grid drop for an unauthorised engine change. The penalty puts him down to the seventh row of the grid.

However, it’s not all bad news for Power. His only championship rival, Ryan Hunter-Reay, also faces his own ten-place grid hit, and he’ll start well down the order after a poor qualifying performance that saw him manage no better than the seventeenth-quickest time.

All of the grid penalties mean that Tony Kanaan (KV Racing) and JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing) are promoted to the second row, while the third row of the rolling grid will be occupied by Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing) and Rubens Barrichello (KV Racing).

All eyes will be on the mid-pack to see who out of Power or Hunter-Reay will emerge triumphant. Power currently holds a 17-point championship lead over Hunter-Reay, meaning he will claim the championship title if any of the following happens:

  • he finishes the race ahead of Hunter-Reay
  • he finishes in third place and Hunter-Reay wins. However, if Hunter-Reay has also led the most laps during the race, then they will tie on points and Hunter-Reay will win the title
  • he finishes in second place or higher

2012 IndyCar Series MAV TV 500 Fontana Final Qualifying Results:

  Driver Entrant Result
1. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 216.069mph
2. Ryan Briscoe AUS Team Penske Chevrolet 216.058mph
3. Will Power* AUS Team Penske Chevrolet 215.940mph
4. Josef Newgarden* USA Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda 215.919mph
5. Scott Dixon* NZL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 215.391mph
6. Alex Tagliani* CAN Bryan Herta Autosports Honda 215.226mph
7. Tony Kanaan BRA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 214.877mph
8. JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing Chevrolet 214.749mph
9. Ed Carpenter USA Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet 214.684mph
10. Hélio Castroneves* BRA Team Penske Chevrolet 214.409mph
11. Graham Rahal* USA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 214.015mph
12. James Hinchcliffe* CAN Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 213.726mph
13. Rubens Barrichello BRA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 213.528mph
14. Katherine Legge GBR Dragon Racing Chevrolet 213.308mph
15. Simon Pagenaud* FRA Schmidt Hamilton Honda 213.282mph
16. Takuma Sato* JPN Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda 213.222mph
17. Ryan Hunter-Reay* USA Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 212.773mph
18. Oriol Servià ESP Panther / Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet 212.533mph
19. Dario Franchitti GBR Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 211.999mph
20. Charlie Kimball* USA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 211.531mph
21.  Sebastián Saavedra COL Andretti Autosport Chevrolet 210.619mph
22. EJ Viso VEN KV Racing Technology Chevrolet 210.134mph
23. Wade Cunningham* NZL AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda 209.526mph
24. James Jakes GBR Dale Coyne Racing Honda 208.056mph
25. Simona de Silvestro* SUI Lotus-HVM Racing Lotus no time
26. Justin Wilson GBR Dale Coyne Racing Honda no time

* Denotes ten-place grid penalty for an unauthorised engine change

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.