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Fontana IndyCar: Marco Andretti beats Ryan Briscoe to pole

Marco Andretti, Andretti, Fontana 2012Marco Andretti took pole position for Saturday's IndyCar season finale at Fontana.

On an afternoon marked by constantly changing conditions, Andretti made the most of the relatively favourable wind early in the session to lay down a 216.069mph average that proved beyond the reach of the rest of the field.

"I had my mind made up that I was going flat," he said. "Whatever was going to happen was going to happen. I even talked about it with my engineer: 'if I do a lazy lift, we're not going to have a chance for the pole'. So I just went for it on lap one, and she hung in there.

"But then lap two, I committed again to being flat. I had an even bigger lift. I should have in hindsight on lap two just done a lazy lift, just committed to lifting. Instead I committed to going flat, and had to bail out big-time. That almost caught me out with Ryan [Briscoe] - I was worried about that.

"I've been on the outside looking in on that hundredth of a mile an hour for the pole. I was on the good side of that today."

Briscoe came closest to toppling the American with a 216.058mph average that translated into his missing pole by 0.0032 seconds.

Points leader Will Power was third-fastest at 215.940mph, although he is one of 14 drivers currently facing a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change.

It was a difficult afternoon for Power's title rival Ryan Hunter-Reay, who could only manage 17th fastest with a 10-place penalty to be added.

Two cars failed to set a time, with Justin Wilson sitting out the session after crashing during practice, and Simona de Silvestro missing out after suffering an engine failure during the morning.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car                   Speed
 1.  Marco Andretti       Andretti Dallara-Chevy     216.069
 2.  Ryan Briscoe         Penske Dallara-Chevy       216.058
 3.  Will Power           Penske Dallara-Chevy       215.940
 4.  Josef Newgarden      Fisher Dallara-Honda       215.919
 5.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi Dallara-Honda      215.391
 6.  Alex Tagliani        Herta Dallara-Honda        215.226
 7.  Tony Kanaan          KV Dallara-Chevy           214.877
 8.  JR Hildebrand        Panther Dallara-Chevy      214.749
 9.  Ed Carpenter         Carpenter Dallara-Chevy    214.684
10.  Helio Castroneves    Penske Dallara-Chevy       214.409
11.  Graham Rahal         Ganassi Dallara-Honda      214.015
12.  James Hinchcliffe    Andretti Dallara-Chevy     213.726
13.  Rubens Barrichello   KV Dallara-Chevy           213.527
14.  Katherine Legge      Dragon Dallara-Chevy       213.308
15.  Simon Pagenaud       Schmidt Dallara-Honda      213.282
16.  Takuma Sato          Rahal Dallara-Honda        213.222
17.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti Dallara-Chevy     212.773
18.  Oriol Servia         Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy  212.533
19.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi Dallara-Honda      211.999
20.  Charlie Kimball      Ganassi Dallara-Honda      211.531
21.  Sebastian Saavedra   AFS/Andretti Dallara-Chevy 210.619
22.  EJ Viso              KV Dallara-Chevy           210.134
23.  Wade Cunningham      Foyt Dallara-Honda         209.526
24.  James Jakes          Coyne Dallara-Honda        208.056
25.  Simona de Silvestro  HVM Dallara-Lotus
26.  Justin Wilson        Coyne Dallara-Honda
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