Scott Dixon has put himself in a strong position to win the Verizon IndyCar Series by qualifying on the front row for the final race of the year at Sonoma.
Dixon will start alongside Ryan Hunter-Reay, who did his title aspirant team-mate Alexander Rossi a small favour by preventing the New Zealander from gaining the pole position bonus point.
The #9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda sat on pole until Hunter-Reay’s (#28 Andretti Autosport Honda) late effort bettered Dixon’s by 0.1322s.
Rossi (#27 Andretti Autosport Honda), who trails Dixon by 29 points, will start from sixth have opted to not use a set of red alternate compound tyres in the Fast Six.
He will be joined on Row 3 by the shock of the afternoon in Indy Lights winner Patricio O’Ward (#8 Chevrolet), who is debuting in the extra Harding Racing entry.
Ahead of them are title longshot Josef Newgarden (#1 Team Penske Chevrolet) in third and Marco Andretti (#98 Andretti-Herta w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda) in fourth.
Will Power (#12 Chevrolet), tied with Newgarden at 87 points behind Dixon (and only 100 available to the winner, plus bonuses for laps led), starts seventh after getting caught out by trying to save red tyres.
He had made the top six on the grid for every other road course and street circuit race this year.
Alongside the Australian is Team Penske team-mate Simon Pagenaud (#22 Chevrolet), ahead of Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) and Zach Veach (#26 Andretti Autosport Honda).
Sebastien Bourdais is one spot outside the top 10 in the #18 DCR w/ Vasser-Sullivan Honda.
The 2018 champion, which will certainly be Dixon if he finishes second or better, will be decided over 85 laps at Sonoma Raceway at 0840 AEST.
Starting grid: Sonoma
|1||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||D/H/F||1:17.6277||Fast Six|
|2||9||Scott Dixon||D/H/F||1:17.7599||Fast Six|
|3||1||Josef Newgarden||D/C/F||1:17.7937||Fast Six|
|4||98||Marco Andretti||D/H/F||1:17.7999||Fast Six|
|5||8||Patricio O’Ward (R)||D/C/F||1:17.9737||Fast Six|
|6||27||Alexander Rossi||D/H/F||1:18.0019||Fast Six|
|7||12||Will Power||D/C/F||1:17.6495||Round 2 / Top 12|
|8||22||Simon Pagenaud||D/C/F||1:17.7489||Round 2 / Top 12|
|9||15||Graham Rahal||D/H/F||1:17.9043||Round 2 / Top 12|
|10||26||Zach Veach (R)||D/H/F||1:17.9111||Round 2 / Top 12|
|11||18||Sebastien Bourdais||D/H/F||1:17.9242||Round 2 / Top 12|
|12||30||Takuma Sato||D/H/F||1:17.9919||Round 2 / Top 12|
|13||19||Pietro Fittipaldi (R)||D/H/F||1:18.5281||Round 1 / Group 1|
|14||10||Ed Jones||D/H/F||1:18.5088||Round 1 / Group 2|
|15||5||James Hinchcliffe||D/H/F||1:18.5740||Round 1 / Group 1|
|16||60||Jack Harvey (R)||D/H/F||1:18.5892||Round 1 / Group 2|
|17||21||Spencer Pigot||D/C/F||1:18.6687||Round 1 / Group 1|
|18||14||Tony Kanaan||D/C/F||1:18.5966||Round 1 / Group 2|
|19||88||Colton Herta (R)||D/C/F||1:18.6823||Round 1 / Group 1|
|20||39||Santino Ferrucci (R)||D/H/F||1:18.6172||Round 1 / Group 2|
|21||59||Max Chilton||D/C/F||1:18.7536||Round 1 / Group 1|
|22||6||Carlos Munoz||D/H/F||1:18.7211||Round 1 / Group 2|
|23||4||Matheus Leist (R)||D/C/F||1:18.9665||Round 1 / Group 1|
|24||23||Charlie Kimball||D/C/F||1:18.8495||Round 1 / Group 2|
|25||20||Jordan King (R)||D/C/F||1:19.1519||Round 1 / Group 2|
(C)hassis: D=Dallara | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)yre: F=Firestone