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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)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates winning the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg with third-place finisher Tony Kanaan (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6; and Tony Kanaan (right), driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6; celebrate with Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who raced to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power finished second. Kanaan finished third. Chevrolet took the top six places in the first race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power clash in the closing laps of the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates Saturday, March 28, 2015, after winning the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power, the defending champion driver of the series, led his Chevrolet Team Penske teammates to a 1-2-3-4 qualifying sweep. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates Saturday, March 28, 2015, after winning the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power, the defending champion driver of the series, led his Chevrolet Team Penske teammates to a 1-2-3-4 qualifying sweep. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates Saturday, March 28, 2015, after winning the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power, the defending champion driver of the series, led his Chevrolet Team Penske teammates to a 1-2-3-4 qualifying sweep. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest Saturday, March 28, 2015, winning the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power, the defending champion driver of the series, led his Chevrolet Team Penske teammates to a 1-2-3-4 qualifying sweep. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand prior to practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power at St Petersburg. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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