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Will Power will once again lead the field to the green flag for this weekend's Verizon IndyCar Series race, the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday evening.

Power set a blistering pace under the searing afternoon sun, recording an average speed of 218.89mph after two timed laps of the 1.455-mile high-banked oval located just outside Fort Worth. That put him 0.2331s ahead of Josef Newgarden, who sealed the remaining front row position for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing in Friday afternoon's single car qualifying time trials.

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"I was actually surprised by the speed on the first lap and thought 'I have to do it again,'" said Power, who won here in 2011. "I'm very focused on the race. Last year, Helio was very strong, so I'll try to get a car that strong for the race if I can."

This year, Power's team mate Helio Castroneves did not fare so well in qualifying and will start from down in 14th position. The third member of the Penske line up, Juan Pablo Montoya, managed to qualify in fourth place in his first appearance at the venue.

"I had a bit of an understeer with the Verizon Chevy, but I'm pretty happy with that lap," reported the former F1 and NASCAR star. "We tested here a couple of months ago and I think we learned a lot. The weather is nowhere close to the same as it was then, but hopefully we can still apply some of the things we learned."

Tony Kanaan will start from third place alongside Montoya, having earlier set the pace in the sole 75-minute morning practice session held before qualifying. Kanaan had completed 53 laps in that session and posted a best lap speed of 219.382mph (23.8762s) putting him at the head of a Ganassi 1-2-3 with Scott Dixon second fastest and Ryan Briscoe edging Marco Andretti for third place.

"We have had a good car so far today here in Texas and we were strong this morning leading practice," said Kanaan. "I just missed it a little on our second lap in qualifying. I think it was something when I shifted at the wrong time and that slowed us up a little on that second lap. Either way it's still a good race car and I'm looking forward to practice tonight."

In qualifying, Dixon was able to secure seventh place on the grid while Briscoe fell back to 13th place, meaning he will start alongside Castroneves.

"The Target car was obviously really good this morning and we were happy the way we unloaded," reported Dixon. "This afternoon in qualifying we ran a good first lap which had us second overall, but our second lap was a lot slower, which we knew would be the case. I think we should be strong over long runs and good for the race tomorrow night."

"We had a really good first practice this morning and I was able to run in first for most of the session and then ended up in third behind my teammates in the end," added Briscoe. "I think we were just off on the gears for qualifying and I wasn't able to put together the lap times we were hoping for.

"In qualifying it's the fine details that can really make you lose quite a bit of speed and that was definitely the case for us today. We'll be able to go back and get the problem fixed and be ready to put in a good race tomorrow night."

Indy 500 polewinner Ed Carpenter will start from fifth place alongside Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner Simon Pagenaud, while Dale Coyne Racing's Justin Wilson will start alongside Dixon in eighth place.

"I am disappointed with the car in qualifying, Carpenter admitted. "It felt good in practice this morning and the first lap is good but the car really fell off the second lap. There was just no grip.

"Texas Motor Speedway is the toughest oval track we run now," he added. "It's tougher than Indy, Fontana and others. We haven't had pack racing since 2005 or 2006 here. It's been single file here since 2007 but everyone still thinks we race in packs here. That's just not the case."

The drivers also had one last additional half-hour practice session at 6.45pm local time to enable them to set up their cars for the cooler evening conditions in which the race itself will be held. The session once again resulted in a Ganassi 1-2-3 this time with Dixon leading Kanaan and Briscoe. No one was able to improve their times form the first practice session.

The green flag for the Firestone 600 is due at 7.50pm local time (12.50am BST) on Saturday evening.

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