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Fontana IndyCar: Helio Castroneves on pole, Will Power struggles

Helio Castroneves takes Fontana IndyCar pole 2014

Helio Castroneves boosted his title hopes by securing pole for Fontana's IndyCar finale, while a catastrophic session for Will Power leaves the points leader at the rear of the field.

Castroneves was the last driver to make his qualifying run and delivered a 218.540mph two-lap average to give himself the top starting spot for Saturday night's title-deciding race.

NEWS UPDATE: Aleshin hospitalised after huge final practice crash

Juan Pablo Montoya's early run of 217.621mph was enough to secure a Team Penske 1-2 on the grid.

"This certainly helps," Castroneves said. "But it's not everything. Will and JP [Juan Pablo Montoya] went out ahead of me and I was able to see their data and make a final adjustment. It wasn't much, but it was enough to get pole.

"But tomorrow is a 500 mile race. Our job is to attack and be aggressive, and finish in the same position we started."

When Power completed a warm-up lap in the 216mph range he appeared destined to be somewhere up there with his team-mates, but two awful flying laps left the Australian back in 21st with an average speed of only 212.604mph, and facing a busy evening on Saturday.

"[The car was] too loose," he said. "You've got three hours to work your way to the front [in the race]. I think that's going to be the mindset.

"A big plus is that it's a track you can pass on. Hopefully it will be cool enough that we have multiple lanes, and we can make our way through."

Power now leads Castroneves by 50 points, with 100 on offer for the win in the double-points event.

Simon Pagenaud, who is the only other driver with a mathematical chance at the title, will start from 13th. He trails Power by 81 points.

Temperatures spiked substantially from practice earlier in the day, and the very warm conditions caused problems for several drivers.

But they were little cause for concern for Josef Newgarden, who finished up third-fastest for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and was convinced that he could have been on pole had he chosen a better line for his first flying lap.

Others who were left ruing what might have been were Takuma Sato, who was first after his first flying lap but fell to fourth after a slower lap two, and Ed Carpenter, whose similar second-lap fade left him back in 14th.

Pos  Driver              Team/Engine      Speed
 1.  Helio Castroneves   Penske/Chevy     218.540
 2.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Penske/Chevy     217.621
 3.  Josef Newgarden     Fisher/Honda     217.600
 4.  Takuma Sato         Foyt/Honda       217.323
 5.  Scott Dixon         Ganassi/Chevy    217.057
 6.  Charlie Kimball     Ganassi/Chevy    217.017
 7.  Tony Kanaan         Ganassi/Chevy    216.857
 8.  Mikhail Aleshin     Schmidt/Honda    216.726
 9.  Ryan Hunter-Reay    Andretti/Honda   216.305
10.  Graham Rahal        Rahal/Honda      216.299
11.  James Hinchcliffe   Andretti/Honda   215.898
12.  Ryan Briscoe        Ganassi/Chevy    215.878
13.  Simon Pagenaud      Schmidt/Honda    215.752
14.  Ed Carpenter        Carpenter/Chevy  215.326
15.  Sebastien Bourdais  KV/Chevy         214.713
16.  Justin Wilson       Coyne/Honda      214.486
17.  Jack Hawksworth     Herta/Honda      214.173
18.  Marco Andretti      Andretti/Honda   214.109
19.  Carlos Munoz        Andretti/Honda   213.991
20.  Sebastian Saavedra  KV/Chevy         213.981
21.  Will Power          Penske/Chevy     212.604
22.  Carlos Huertas      Coyne/Honda      202.319

All drivers use Dallara chassis
Grid set by average speed in mph over two-lap run
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