IndyCar title rivals Dario Franchitti and Will Power are optimistic that they can still get to the front in the Las Vegas finale despite only qualifying on row eight.
Both drivers struggled for speed on Friday, qualifying 17th and 18th, with Power ahead.
Penske driver Power, who trails Franchitti by 18 points, said his car simply did not have the pace in qualifying trim, but hopes to race his way forward on Sunday.
"Speed means so much at this track and we're still just trying to get more out of the Verizon car," said Power.
"That's definitely not the result we wanted out of qualifying but we know that this is going to be a pack race and hopefully we can use that to our advantage and move forward in the race on Sunday.
"We need to win and we have some time between now and then to make sure we are getting the most out of the car."
Franchitti said his Ganassi car had been lacking all weekend.
"I don't know what to tell you," he said. "From the moment my car rolled off the truck it's been slow.
"If there's any silver lining it's the fact that Will's back there with me. Will and I were joking that you couldn't have scripted it better. I think both the Target and Penske teams are very capable of getting us from the back to the front.
"It's definitely not ideal starting this far back, but we will do our best to move to the front."
The points leader admitted he was relieved both not to be even lower down the 34-car grid, and to have Power on the same row.
"I said to [wife] Ashley, I think if we get inside the top 20 here we'll be doing well, and they were saying, no, no, no. Trust me, this thing, there's a problem here," said Franchitti.
"So when I saw Will do his lap, how do I put this? I was pleasantly surprised, I guess.
"That definitely makes my life a little easier to start with. How we finish is a whole different story."
Power said that while Franchitti's troubles were some comfort for him, with a points gap to overcome he needed to be a long way ahead of the Scot.
"We need to be a fair bit ahead of him to beat him in the championship," Power acknowledged. "It's good that he's back there, because if we were back there and he was at the front, that makes things a little bit more difficult.
"We just have to be smart in the race, have a good strategy, and see what we can do."
The Australian added that he felt there had been a random element to the qualifying result.
"If you get a gust of wind on your qualifying lap, you might happen to be on pole, and it keeps coming down to that," said Power.
"Kentucky was actually a grip-limited track, so you weren't just running completely trimmed out. It was bumpy and it was actually a little harder, so you could make a difference on set-up.
"But this track, for qualifying it's an engine dyno. That's what it is. It's 100 per cent an engine dyno and drag. It's all about drag."