Castroneves wins pole as Power slips at Fontana

Helio Castroneves surges to pole at Fontana as Will Power slips to 21st

Helio Castroneves surges to pole at Fontana as Will Power slips to 21st

Brazilian Helio Castroneves has uncorked a devastating lap to leap to the pole as the Verizon IndyCar Series finale remained on a knife-edge at Fontana.

Castroneves made the perfect start to launch a challenge on his Team Penske rival Will Power by posting a 218.54mph (351.70km/h) two-lap average speed.

Power was left rueing a slow opening lap which destroyed any chance he had of taking a prominent starting position in the 250-lap MAVTV 500 tomorrow and will start 21st in the 22-car field.

As the defending race winner, one of the scenarios facing Power is that he needs to sixth (not including bonus points) to seal the championship if Castroneves wins.

Power was circumspect about his season-low qualifying effort.

“With the starting position, I’d rather start at the very front or the very back to stay out of trouble early on,” Power said.

“It’s obviously all about the race; it’s very long and we’ll be racing in different conditions.”

Castroneves, the final driver in the field to post his run, was the only one to top 218mph on his way to a third pole of the year.

“Our job is to be aggressive over the 500 miles and finish where we started,” Castroneves, who like Power is searching for his maiden title, said.

He will share the front row with the third Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya, one of the early runners, who claimed a 217.62mph (350.22km/h) average.

Castroneves picks up a bonus point by claiming the pole and now spots Power a 50-point deficit going into the showdown after qualifying was run in scorching conditions at the southern California circuit.

Sarah Fisher/ Hartman Racing driver Josef Newgarden will start third after a 217.60mph (350.19) two-lap average.

Takuma Sato (AJ Foyt Racing) slots into fourth ahead of Ganassi driver and out-going series champion Scott Dixon.

Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan, Mikhail Aleshin, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal complete the 10 fastest qualifiers.

Ganassi’s Ryan Briscoe will start from 12th behind Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe.

Simon Pageaud (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports), who enters the tense showdown third in points, will start from 13th.

Meanwhile, following the announcement that NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana will join the IndyCar calendar next year, the series has announced that the Houston street race has been scrapped.

Houston had hosted double-header races for the past two seasons and previously had stints on the Indy calendar from 1998-2001 and 2006-2007.

VIDEO: Qualifying wrap

See below for full qualifying results

1

Helio Castroneves

Team Penske

218.54mph

2

Juan Pablo Montoya

Team Penske

217.62

3

Josef Newgarden

Sarah Fisher/Hartman Racing

217.60

4

Takuma Sato

AJ Foyt Racing

217.32

5

Scott Dixon

Ganassi Racing

217.05

6

Charlie Kimball

Ganassi Racing

217.01

7

Tony Kanaan

Ganassi Racing

216.85

8

Mikhail Aleshin

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

216.72

9

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Andretti Autosport

216.30

10

Graham Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RAcing

216.29

11

James Hinchcliffe

Andretti Autosport

215.89

12

Ryan Briscoe

Ganassi Racing

215.87

13

Simon Pagenaud

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

215.75

14

Ed Carpenter

Ed Carpenter Racing

215.32

15

Sebastien Bourdais

KVSH Racing

214.71

16

Justin Wilson

Dale Coyne Racing

214.48

17

Jack Hawksworth

BHA/BBM

214.17

18

Marco Andretti

Andretti Autosport

214.10

19

Carlos Munoz

Andretti Autosport

213.99

20

Sebastian Saavedra

KV AFS Racing

213.98

21

Will Power

Team Penske

212.60

22

Carlos Huertas

Dale Coyne Racing

202.31

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