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Marco qualifies on top in Fontana

Marco Andretti claimed pole position for the IZOD IndyCar Series finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, with Ryan Briscoe set to start the MAVTV 500 alongside him.
Marco Andretti leapt to the top of the timesheets early in qualifying for the the MAVTV 500 on Friday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, to put him on pole position for the IZOD IndyCar Series 2012 season finale.

"It means a lot with what we have been going through this year," said Andretti. "It's just been a very trying year for me and my career. It's good for the confidence, giving credit to his crew. "The whole Andretti Autosport team is just taking a huge step up this year."

Andretti set the fastest single lap in qualifying with a speed of 217.934mph (33.0375s) before finally setting a two-lap average of 216.069mph just 0.011mph ahead of Ryan Briscoe who set a two-lap qualifying effort that was just 0.0032s slower than the polesitter.

Andretti's second pole position in the series, his first since claiming the top spot at Milwaukee in 2008, means that nether of the two championship contenders manage to lay claim to what had potentially been crucial bonus points for pole going into Saturday night's title decider.

Will Power - who goes into the race 17pts ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay - set the third fastest two-lap average speed (215.940mph), while his rival was almost a second slower when he set the 17th fastest time of the session.

However, both men will have ten-place grid penalties for engine changes, as will at least 12 other drivers. That will put Power down into 13th place and Hunter-Reay back near the rear of the grid once all the penalties are worked through.

"Not a great qualifying run for us but it's a 500-mile race so really not that bummed about it," said Hunter-Reay, who admitted that the team hadn't done much work on raw qualifying speed so far this weekend. "We've been focusing on the race, though. That's the big thing."

Power added, "It's one of those races where you can be a half-lap down and come back to win the race," which earned a quip from Hunter-Reay that he'd be very pleased indeed if he could have Power starting half a lap back tomorrow evening.

Tony Kanaan will inherit third place starting alongside JR Hildebrand. Dario Franchitti was the first man out to qualify but reported massive oversteer in turn 2, leaving him 19th in the timesheets but due to start ten spots higher on the grid after all the penalties are taken into account.




Related Pictures

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Marco Andretti (#26) at Fontana. (c) 2012, Jamey Price. (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Marco Andretti (#26) at Fontana. (c) 2012, Jamey Price. (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Pit lane (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon spins during practice (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Mikhail Aleshin slides into his machine prior to the evening Open Test session at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
The pylon at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mikhail Aleshin sits in his machine prior to practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Mikhail Aleshin on course during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mikhail Aleshin crosses the start/finish line during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Mikhail Aleshin receives a handshake before his qualification attempt for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his daughter Mikaella after winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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