Simon Pagenaud snatches pole at Fontana

Simon Pagenaud, foreground, claims maiden pole for Team Penske at Fontana ahead of his team-mate Helio Castroneves in the #3 machine

Simon Pagenaud, foreground, claims his maiden pole for Team Penske at Fontana ahead of his team-mate Helio Castroneves in the #3 machine

Frenchman Simon Pagenaud has secured his maiden pole position as a Team Penske driver after topping the single-car qualifying runs for the MAVTV 500 at Fontana.

Pagenaud scorched around the D-shaped superspeedway to finish with a two-lap qualifying average of 218.95mph (352.36km/h).

Helio Castroneves sealed the front row for Penske after he punched out almost two identical laps to finish with an average of 218.73 (352.01).

Marco Andretti was the fastest Honda driver, after qualifying in third with an average of 217.79 (349.49).

Pagenaud, who is 10th in the championship standings, expressed surprise at his qualifying pace at the southern Californian venue.

“The Penske Chevy Truck Rental Car has been amazing in traffic,” Pagenaud, who was the third car in the field to start his qualifying run,” said.

“(but) We didn’t do any practice on a qualifying run so this was a surprise.”

Ed Carpenter confirmed the form reversal for the CFH Racing operation by qualifying in fourth ahead of series points leader Juan Montoya.

Team-mates Tony Kanaan and Scot Dixon are out of sixth and seventh ahead of Will Power.

Defending series champion Power complained of a lot of understeer in his Chevy after establishing the quickest warm-up lap speed ahead of his two timed qualifying laps.

“A lot of push. I couldn’t do much there,” Power said.

“I’m looking forward to a good race tomorrow and we’ll have a good look at it tonight.”

Takuma Sato and Sage Karam were ninth and 10th while Ryan Briscoe, substituting for James Hinchcliffe in the #5 Schmidt Peterson machine, will start from 16th.

See below for full qualifying results

Pos. Car Driver Manufacturer Total Time Two-Lap Avg. Speed
1 22 Simon Pagenaud Chevrolet 1:05.7679 218.952 MPH
2 3 Helio Castroneves Chevrolet 1:05.8335 218.734 MPH
3 27 Marco Andretti Honda 1:06.1166 217.797 MPH
4 20 Ed Carpenter Chevrolet 1:06.1563 217.666 MPH
5 2 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 1:06.2830 217.250 MPH
6 10 Tony Kanaan Chevrolet 1:06.3033 217.184 MPH
7 9 Scott Dixon Chevrolet 1:06.3033 217.184 MPH
8 1 Will Power Chevrolet 1:06.3057 217.176 MPH
9 14 Takuma Sato Honda 1:06.3261 217.109 MPH
10 8 Sage Karam (R) Chevrolet 1:06.3412 217.060 MPH
11 26 Carlos Munoz Honda 1:06.3967 216.878 MPH
12 67 Josef Newgarden Chevrolet 1:06.5159 216.490 MPH
13 83 Charlie Kimball Chevrolet 1:06.5921 216.242 MPH
14 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Honda 1:06.6718 215.983 MPH
15 11 Sebastien Bourdais Chevrolet 1:06.7534 215.719 MPH
16 5 Ryan Briscoe Honda 1:06.8132 215.526 MPH
17 41 Jack Hawksworth Honda 1:06.8692 215.346 MPH
18 98 Gabby Chaves (R) Honda 1:07.3778 213.720 MPH
19 15 Graham Rahal Honda 1:07.4034 213.639 MPH
20 19 Tristan Vautier Honda 1:07.5052 213.317 MPH
21 4 Stefano Coletti (R) Chevrolet 1:07.7188 212.644 MPH
22 18 Pippa Mann Honda 1:08.3994 210.528 MPH
23 7 James Jakes Honda No Time No Speed

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