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IndyCar Sonoma: Hunter-Reay beats Dixon to pole for season finale

IndyCar championship leader Scott Dixon was pipped to pole position for the final race of the season at Sonoma by Ryan Hunter-Reay

The Andretti driver jumped Dixon right at the end of the session, denying the Chip Ganassi Racing man the chance to extend his points lead to 30 over Alexander Rossi.

Dixon had been top after the first flying laps with a time of 1m17.7599 seconds before Hunter-Reay found an extra tenth of a second for his first pole since Long Beach in 2014.

Reigning IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden qualified third and is an outsider for the title. He needs to win the race, lead more laps than anyone else and hope Rossi finishes below ninth and Dixon lower than 22nd.

Marco Andretti was fourth ahead of a stunning IndyCar qualifying debut performance from Patricio O'Ward.

The Indy Lights champion qualified for the Fast Six, after two slight errors in the earlier segment, and banked just the one lap before climbing out of his car.

O'Ward is the first IndyCar debutant to qualify inside the top six in his first event since Robert Wickens, Jordan King and Matheus Leist did so at the season-opening St Petersburg round earlier this year.

Dixon's biggest title threat in Rossi qualified sixth having opted for the strategic call of qualifying on the slower black-walled tyres.

Tyre degradation is likely to become a key part of the strategy and Rossi's spare set of quicker red-striped tyres could be a key advantage.

Penske's Will Power - an outside title contender requiring the same permutations as Newgarden - qualified seventh, his worst position of the year, ahead of team-mate Simon Pagenaud.

Graham Rahal and Andretti's Zach Veach completed the top 10 ahead of Sebastien Bourdais and Takuma Sato.

Dale Coyne Racing's Pietro Fittipaldi was 13th ahead of Ganassi's Ed Jones.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe finished 15th in front of Michael Shank Racing-affiliated team-mate Jack Harvey.

Newly re-signed Spencer Pigot took 17th for Ed Carpenter Racing.

AJ Foyt Racing's road course struggles continued with Tony Kanaan in 18th and team-mate Matheus Leist down in 23rd, with Kanaan set for his 300th Indycar start in tomorrow's race.

O'Ward's Harding team-mate and 2018 Indy Lights title rival Colton Herta was 19th ahead of Santino Ferrucci.

Carlin's Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball had difficult sessions in 21st and 24th respectively, with Jordan King behind the latter in the last place.

Provisional starting grid

Pos Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 1m17.6277s -
2 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda 1m17.7599s 0.1322s
3 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 1m17.7937s 0.1660s
4 Marco Andretti Andretti Herta Dallara/Honda 1m17.7999s 0.1722s
5 Patricio O'Ward Harding Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 1m17.9737s 0.3460s
6 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 1m18.0019s 0.3742s
7 Will Power Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 1m17.6495s -
8 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 1m17.7489s -
9 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 1m17.9043s -
10 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 1m17.9111s -
11 Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 1m17.9242s -
12 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 1m17.9919s -
13 Pietro Fittipaldi Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 1m18.5281s -
14 Ed Jones Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda 1m18.5088s -
15 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 1m18.5740s -
16 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Dallara/Honda 1m18.5892s -
17 Spencer Pigot Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 1m18.6687s -
18 Tony Kanaan AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Chevrolet 1m18.5966s -
19 Colton Herta Harding Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 1m18.6823s -
20 Santino Ferrucci Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 1m18.6172s -
21 Max Chilton Carlin Dallara/Chevrolet 1m18.7536s -
22 Carlos Munoz Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 1m18.7211s -
23 Matheus Leist AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Chevrolet 1m18.9665s -
24 Charlie Kimball Carlin Dallara/Chevrolet 1m18.8495s -
25 Jordan King Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 1m19.1519s -


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