Will Power will start from pole position in Saturday's IndyCar Series finale

Team Penske has dominated qualifying for Sunday night’s IndyCar Series curtain-closer at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway, with Will Power denying teammate and championship contender Hélio Castroneves an important bonus championship point after he beat his Brazilian teammate to pole position in Friday’s qualifying session.

Castroneves – who lies 25 points behind his sole title rival, Scott Dixon – had been on course to claim top spot on the timesheets until Power’s final two-lap run on the two-mile super speedway. But the Australian edged ahead in his Chevrolet-powered car, lapping a full 1mph faster than the Brazilian to claim top spot.

Even if Castroneves had have claimed pole position, he wouldn’t have been able to start from the front row anyway, on account of a ten-place grid penalty that he and five other drivers – including Dixon – have earned for an unscheduled engine change.

Team Penske’s occasional third driver, AJ Allmendinger, will line up alongside Power on the front row after the Californian posted a brilliant third-fastest effort, despite not having sat in an IndyCar cockpit since June’s Grand Prix of Detroit double-header, where he crashed out on the opening lap of both races.

In his final appearance for the Dragon Racing team, Sébastien Bourdais qualified a solid fourth-fastest with his final run, which gives him a front-row start after Castroneves’ penalty.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball was fifth-fastest, ahead of oval special James Jakes in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda.

Championship leader Scott Dixon was seventh-fastest, but the Kiwi will start seventeenth for tomorrow’s 500-mile race. He needs to finish in sixth place or better to guarantee himself the 2013 Drivers’ Championship title.

The field had one last-minute change ahead of qualifying, with the Andretti Autosports team forced to call up Indy Lights driver Carlos Muñoz, after regular driver EJ Viso declared he was too unwell to compete this weekend. While Indy 500 ‘Rookie of the Year’ Muñoz did well to qualify fourteenth-fastest, paddock gossip suggests that Viso had pulled out because he is too nervous to compete on the daunting super speedway.

Saturday’s 250-lap race gets underway at 6:10pm local time, one hour later than originally scheduled.

2013 IndyCar Series MAVTV 500 World Championship – Qualifying Results:

  Driver   Entry / Team Avg Speed
1. Will Power AUS Team Penske – Chevrolet 220.775mph
2. Hélio Castroneves* BRA Team Penske – Chevrolet 219.677mph
3. AJ Allmendinger USA Team Penske – Chevrolet 218.894mph
4. Sébastien Bourdais Dragon Racing – Chevrolet 218.513mph
5. Charlie Kimball USA Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda 217.986mph
6. James Jakes Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda 217.979mph
7. Scott Dixon* NZL Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda 217.979mph
8. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 217.958mph
9. Ed Carpenter USA Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet 217.932mph
10. Josef Newgarden* USA Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda 217.871mph
11. James Hinchcliffe CAN Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 217.798mph
12. Tony Kanaan BRA KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet 217.566mph
13. Alex Tagliani CAN Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda 217.419mph
14. Carlos Muñoz Team Venezuela – Chevrolet 217.050mph
15. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 216.898mph
16. Simon Pagenaud SPH – Honda 216.447mph
17. Oriol Servia ESP Panther Racing – Chevrolet 216.213mph
18. Graham Rahal* USA Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda 216.606mph
19. JR Hildebrand USA Barracuda Racing – Honda 215.967mph
20. Tristan Vautier SPH – Honda 215.207mph
21. Simona de Silvestro KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet 214.679mph
22. Sebastián Saavedra* Dragon Racing – Chevrolet 213.262mph
23. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing – Honda no time
24. Pippa Mann Dale Coyne Racing – Honda no time
25. Takuma Sato* AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda no time

* Denotes ten-place grid penalty will be applied for an unscheduled engine change. Grid determined by the average speed over a two-lap run.

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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.