Will Power claimed pole position at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, after setting an unbeatable two-lap average time of 65.2247s (220.775mph) in qualifying at the two-mile oval on Friday afternoon.

That was almost a full third of a second faster than his Penske team mate Helio Castroneves, who was deposed from provisional pole by Power's effort and who therefore loses what could have been a valuable bonus point for winning pole in his bid to win the 2013 championship title from Scott Dixon.

The team opted instead to prioritise allowing Power to set the best possible in order to ensure that Dixon wasn't able to reverse the advantage by claiming pole for himself. In the end the Ganassi driver was only able to set the seventh fastest time of the afternoon.

"It's hard to predict the lap you're going to do anyway, but obviously would have been nice for Helio to get the point," said Power. "Scott didn't [get the point either] so it still kind of keeps it alive.

However, both Castroneves and Dixon have grid penalties for changing their engines ahead of this weekend's season finale. That means Castroneves will actually start from 12th place on the grid, with Dixon dropping down to 17th on the grid for Saturday evening's floodlit event.

"[Helio] needs to lead the most laps and I'll just do whatever I can to help him out," said Power of his strategy for the final event of the year. "I want to have a good race, and if that means just sitting behind him all day, that's fine. It's about the team."

In Castroneves' place, the third Penske AJ Allmendinger gets boosted up to second place on the grid in his home event. It's likely to be his final IndyCar outing for the time being after confirming a return to full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup competition next year.

Power and Allmendinger will be joined on the front row of the three-wide grid at Fontana by Sebastien Bourdais, his best qualifying result of the season despite the Frenchman having said earlier that he hadn't felt entirely happy on the oval speedway.

The second row will see Charlie Kimball line up alongside James Jakes and Marco Andretti, the latter driver having just confirmed a two-year extension to his contract to stay with the family team.

Takuma Sato and Pippa Mann did not take part in qualifying, after damaging their cars in the earlier practice session. Mann was joined on the sidelines by her Dale Coyne Racing team mate Justin Wilson whose engine cut out on his out-lap and who will now also start from near the back of the grid.

Qualifying times

Row 1

1. #12 Will Power Penske (C) 220.775mph 65.2247s
W/U: 213.823mph - L1: 221.057mph - L2: 220.494mph

2. #3 Helio Castroneves * Penske (C) 219.677mph 65.5508s + 0.3261s
W/U: 211.538mph - L1: 220.056mph - L2: 219.300mph

3. #2 AJ Allmendinger Penske (C) 218.894mph 65.7854s + 0.5607s
W/U: 210.255mph - L1: 218.821mph - L2: 218.966mph

Row 2

4. #7 Sebastien Bourdais Dragon (C) 218.513mph 65.9000s + 0.6753s
W/U: 212.832mph - L1: 218.973mph - L2: 218.055mph

5. #83 Charlie Kimball Ganassi (H) 217.986mph 66.0592s + 0.8345s
W/U: 214.940mph - L1: 218.204mph - L2: 217.769mph

6. #16 James Jakes RLL (H) 217.979mph 66.0613s + 0.8366s
W/U: 212.033mph - L1: 218.190mph - L2: 217.769mph

Row 3

7. #9 Scott Dixon * Ganassi (H) 217.979mph 66.0613s + 0.8366s
W/U: 209.713mph - L1: 218.404mph - L2: 217.557mph

8. #25 Marco Andretti Andretti (C) 217.958mph 66.0678s + 0.8431s
W/U: 212.485mph - L1: 218.705mph - L2: 217.216mph

9. #20 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing (C) 217.932mph 66.0758s + 0.8511s
W/U: 217.395mph - L1: 217.955mph - L2: 217.908mph

Row 4

10. #67 Josef Newgarden * SFHR (H) 217.871mph 66.0942s + 0.8695s
W/U: 216.789mph - L1: 218.134mph - L2: 217.608mph

11. #27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti (C) 217.798mph 66.1164s + 0.8917s
W/U: 213.351mph - L1: 217.634mph - L2: 217.962mph

12. #11 Tony Kanaan KV Racing (C) 217.566mph 66.1867s + 0.9620s
W/U: 217.018mph - L1: 218.332mph - L2: 216.806mph

Row 5

13. #10 Alex Tagliani Ganassi (H) 217.419mph 66.2316s + 1.0069s
W/U: 211.937mph - L1: 217.221mph - L2: 217.617mph

14. #5 Carlos Munoz Andretti-HVM (C) 217.050mph 66.3441s + 1.1194s
W/U: 214.527mph - L1: 217.159mph - L2: 216.942mph

15. #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti (C) 216.898mph 66.3908s + 1.1661s
W/U: 214.559mph - L1: 217.037mph - L2: 216.758mph

Row 6

16. #77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt (H) 216.447mph 66.5290s + 1.3043s
W/U: 212.398mph - L1: 216.606mph - L2: 216.288mph

17. #4 Oriol Servi? Panther (C) 216.213mph 66.6010s + 1.3763s
W/U: 215.926mph - L1: 216.346mph - L2: 216.081mph

18. #15 Graham Rahal * RLL (H) 216.106mph 66.6341s + 1.4094s
W/U: 214.082mph - L1: 216.260mph - L2: 215.951mph

Row 7

19. #98 JR Hildebrand BHA (H) 215.967mph 66.6769s + 1.4522s
W/U: 213.642mph - L1: 216.584mph - L2: 215.354mph

20. #55 Tristan Vautier Schmidt (H) 215.207mph 66.9124s + 1.6877s
W/U: 210.031mph - L1: 215.319mph - L2: 215.094mph

21. #78 Simona De Silvestro KV Racing (C) 214.679mph 67.0768s + 1.8521s
W/U: 215.421mph - L1: 215.012mph - L2: 214.348mph

Row 8

22. #6 Sebastian Saavedra * Dragon (C) 213.262mph 67.5226s + 2.2979s
W/U: 213.235mph - L1: 214.117mph - L2: 212.414mph

23. #19 Justin Wilson Dale Coyne (H) No time Stalled on outlap

24. #18 Pippa Mann Dale Coyne (H) No time Did not participate

Row 9

25. #14 Takuma Sato * AJ Foyt (H) No time Did not participate

* Denotes will take 10 place grid drop for unapproved engine change