Will Power has claimed an all-important fourth pole position in his 2014 IndyCar Series championship bid, giving himself the prime starting position for Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

The Team Penske looked set to start alongside teammate and chief championship rival Hélio Castroneves, only for the Brazilian to be stripped of his fastest Q3 lap time when officials ruled he had cut a corner. He now starts from sixth place and will have a tough task to eat into Power’s points lead at a track where overtaking is traditionally difficult.

The penalty elevated Josef Newgarden to second place, equaling the career-best front row start he managed a few weeks before at Mid-Ohio.

In another closely-fought qualifying battle, four different teams were represented in the final top-six shootout for pole. Defending champion and last weekend’s race-winner Scott Dixon was third-fastest, with James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Briscoe rounded out the top five.

Fellow championship aspirants Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud saw their hopes of championship glory dwindle further, qualifying tenth and fifteenth fastest respectively.

Many eyes, however, will be on Power, who heads into the season’s last two races with a healthy 40-point lead at a circuit where he’s tasted victory three times in the last four years. History, however, has not been in the Australian’s favour when he’s been in this position – on three occasions he’s seen his hopes of a maiden IndyCar crown go down the drain at the final hurdle, so a hefty points haul heading into next weekend’s double-points finale at Auto Club Speedway will keep the flame burning a little longer.

2014 IndyCar Series GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma – Qualifying:

‘Fast Six’ Session Team / Entry Time
1. Will Power Team Penske Chevrolet Chevrolet 1:17.4126
2. Josef Newgarden Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda Honda 1:17.7318
3. Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 1:17.9044
4. James Hinchcliffe ca Andretti Autosport Honda Honda 1:17.9565
5. Ryan Briscoe Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 1:18.1217
6. Hélio Castroneves Team Penske Chevrolet Chevrolet 1:18.8771
‘Round 2’ Session Team / Entry Time
7. Sébastien Bourdais KV Racing Technology Honda Honda 1:17.7176
8. Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 1:17.7231
9. Carlos Muñoz Andretti Autosport Honda Honda 1:17.7257
10. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda Honda 1:17.7499
11. Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 1:17.7582
12. Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda Honda 1:18.7700
Group Sessions Team / Entry Time
13. Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Honda Honda 1:18.2681
14. Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda Honda 1:18.1249
15. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda Honda 1:18.2767
16. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing Honda Honda 1:18.2296
17. Mike Conway Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 1:18.3518
18. Jack Hawksworth Bryan Herta Autosport Honda Honda 1:18.2310
19. Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Chevrolet Chevrolet 1:18.8102
20. Takuma Sato A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda Honda 1:18.4104
21. Carlos Huertas Dale Coyne Racing Honda Honda 1:18.9603
22. Sebastián Saavedra KV Racing Technology / AFS Racing Honda Honda 1:18.5202

Image via Motorsport.com

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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.