Will Power is optimistic that he can salvage his title charge in Saturday evening's IndyCar finale despite a disastrous qualifying session at Fontana on Friday.
While Penske team-mate and main title rival Helio Castroneves will line up from pole position, Power faces the prospect of having to fight back from a starting position of 21st in the 22-car field.
"We've got a long night ahead," said Power ahead of the 500-mile race, which is the third double points event of the season.
"You know, it's far from over. It's a long night. We're going to do everything possible to make it happen.
"The starting position I would rather have is either starting at the very front or at the very back, just for the reason of staying out of trouble. It's all about the race."
Power handed the 2012 title to Ryan Hunter-Reay at the same track when he lost control and hit the wall at Turn 2, and he said that track seams were again a factor in his qualifying performance this time around.
"I tried to get low in [Turn] 1," he said. "I then got on a seam and had a moment.
"It went as bad as it could possibly go. At the end of the day, we were just too loose."
Having earned a bonus point for pole, Castroneves now trails Power by 50 points in a race where 103 points are still on offer. However, the Brazilian said that he is not getting ahead of himself.
"It's still 500 miles, it's still a long way," he said. "We've just got to continue doing what we're doing."
Power will win the championship if:
- He finishes sixth or better.
- He finishes seventh and earns a bonus point.
Castroneves will win the championship if:
- He wins and Power is no higher than seventh (or eighth with a bonus point).
- He finishes second and Power is no higher than 16th, with no bonus points.
- Power is classified last and Castroneves is no lower than third.
Simon Pagenaud will win the championship if:
- He wins and scores all three bonus points, Castroneves is no higher than third and Power is no higher than 20th.
- He wins and scores one bonus point, Castroneves is no higher than fourth and Power is no higher than 21st.
A bonus point is awarded for leading at least one lap and for fastest lap. Most laps led earns two bonus points.