The Verizon IndyCar Series championship is on the line this weekend at Auto Club Speedway with Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and Simon Pagenaud in contention. Castroneves closed Will Power's points lead from 51 to 50 after winning the Verizon P1 Award on Friday.
He was the final driver of 22 to take to the 2-mile oval and clocked a two-lap average speed of 218.540 mph in his No. 3 AAA Southern California Team Penske car. It is the 42nd career pole for the Brazilian and his third of the 2014 season.
“It ain’t over; it’s just beginning,” said Castroneves. “Our job is to be aggressive over the 500 miles and finish where we started.”
Saturday night's MAVTV 500 is the third leg of the Triple Crown series and pays double points which keeps Castroneves very much alive for first career championship. He has finished second four times including the past two years.
Will Power, Castroneves' Team Penske teammate, is looking for his first championship as well but he qualified a season's worst 21st with a two-lap average of 212.604 mph.
“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.”
Power won his first career oval track race last season at Auto Club Speedway.
Simon Pagenaud qualified 13th for Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports and he has an outside shot at his first career championship as well if both Power and Castroneves stumble in the 250 lap race.
Juan Pablo Montoya will start second with Josef Newgarden third, Takuma Sato fourth, Scott Dixon fifth, Charlie Kimball sixth, Tony Kanaan seventh, Mikhail Aleshin eighth, Ryan Hunter-Reay ninth, and Graham Rahal tenth. James Hinchcliffe will start 11th, Ryan Briscoe 12th, Ed Carpenter 14th, Sebastien Bourdais 15th, Justin Wilson 16th, Jack Hawksworth 17th, Marco Andretti 18th, Carlos Munoz 19th, Sebastian Saavedra 20th, and Carlos Huertas 22nd.
Coverage of the season-finale can be seen at 9 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN.
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