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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)
Ryan Briscoe wrecks after contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay in the closing laps of the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe wrecks after contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay in the closing laps of the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe wrecks after contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay in the closing laps of the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe wrecks after contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay in the closing laps of the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe wrecks after contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay in the closing laps of the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads the field down the frontstretch during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Degree Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, raced to a sixth-place finish Saturday, June 27, 2015, in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sage Karam, driver of the #8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, races to a fifth-place finish Saturday, June 27, 2015, in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, races to a fourth-place finish Saturday, June 27, 2015, in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to a second-place finish Saturday, June 27, 2015, in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power and Takuma Sato crash out during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power crashes out during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The field flashes across the start/finish line during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, and Graham Rahal go three-wide going into Turn 1 during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday, June 27 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday, June 27 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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