Coming into the race 18pts in the lead, Franchitti should win the title if he can finish in the top three, while Power needs to win the race if Franchitti finishes fourth through seventh. "I'm glad I don't have to make up those 18 points," said Dario, who admitted to being "pleasantly surprised" when Power struggled on his qualifying lap as much as Dario had done.
"We're still just trying to get more out of the Verizon car," said Power for his part. "That's definitely not the result we wanted out of qualifying but we know that this is going to be a pack race and hopefully we can use that to our advantage and move forward in the race on Sunday.
"We need to win and we have some time between now and then to make sure we are getting the most out of the car."
Further back down the grid, James Jakes was unable to set a qualifying lap, following his fiery crash during the early practice session on Friday afternoon.
"Me and Alex just went into turn 1 and 2, drafting into one another," explained Jakes, referring to fellow English driver Alex Lloyd. "I was going into 2 and something broke in the left corner, and at those speeds it moves you so far off the track. When I hit the wall, the impact on the fire was pretty instant, and it went all the way down the back of my suit, and I tried to stop a lot sooner but the brakes were gone, and I just had to wait until the car stopped and I had my seatbelt on and get out of there."
It's unclear whether Jakes will even be able to race on Sunday given the state of the wrecked car and also condition of the back-up chassis rented from KV Racing Technology-Lotus. "We've got the back up, but it's in bits and pieces, so we'll see how bad this one is and get something up on there in the next day,: said Dale Coyne.
Dan Wheldon was 28th fastest, but will start from the back row as part of the conditions for his participation in the $5m prize challenge. Even so, he was disappointed by his pace in Friday's sessions.
"We don't understand why we're so far off the pace. Quite frankly, with the pace were at, we can't stay up in the draft," he said, worried about his chances of being in the running for the $5m jackpot. "There's something we're missing. The team is working hard, but unfortunately Bowers & Wilkins at Magnolia/ William Rast and Curb-Big Machine Records car is not very quick right now."
He'll be joined at the back by Buddy Rice, whose times were deleted after the session after he dipped below the white line during his run. EJ Viso was also unable to post qualifying times, after a penalty for having an engine change following his blowup in Thursday practice.
"Unfortunately I will start at the back of the grid because we had to do a engine change which was considered unapproved under the rules," he confirmed. "I am not really concerned where we start. We have done this many times in the past, coming from the back to the front of the field. It is actually very exciting ... Hopefully, we can bring home a great result so we can close the season on a good note."
Full qualifying times