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Team Penske sweeps front row for IndyCar season-finale

<p>Team Penske drivers Will Power, Helio Castroneves and A.J. Allmendinger swept the front row in Friday's qualifying for the IndyCar Series season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway.</p>

Fontana, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Team Penske drivers Will Power, Helio Castroneves and A.J. Allmendinger swept the front row in Friday's qualifying for the IndyCar Series season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway.

Power won the pole for Saturday night's 500-mile event with a two-lap average speed of 220.775 mph. Castroneves was the ninth driver in the qualifying order and held the provisional pole at 219.677 mph. Power, who was 17th in the order, denied Castroneves a much-needed bonus point for the pole victory.

Castroneves is currently 25 points behind leader Scott Dixon, who qualified seventh. Dixon was 21st in the order.

"It's hard to predict the lap you're going to do anyway, but obviously would have been nice for Helio to get the point," Power said. "He needs to lead the most laps, and I'll just do whatever I can to help him out. I want to have a good race, and if that means just sitting behind him all day, that's fine. It's about the team."

Castroneves and Dixon, though, will receive 10-grid spot penalties for unapproved engine changes.

"We're going to race as hard as we can and see what happens," Castroneves said. "We just have to go for it."

Two weeks ago, Castroneves came to Houston for IndyCar's doubleheader weekend with a season-high 49-point lead over Dixon, but Castroneves finished 18th in the first race and 23rd in the second event. He experienced a gearbox problem in the early going of each race.

Dixon finished first and second in Houston. If Dixon finishes fifth or better in the season-finale, he will clinch his third IndyCar championship, no matter what Castroneves does.

"It was more paramount for us to change the engine and make sure we took maybe the performance gain than sort of just have the straight-out speed and go off whatever qualifying we would have qualified," Dixon said.

Allmendinger, who is making his sixth IndyCar start for Penske this season, qualified third. Sebastien Bourdais took the fourth spot, followed by Charlie Kimball and James Jakes.

Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, the defending race winner, and Josef Newgarden completed the top-10.

Takuma Sato and Pippa Mann did not make qualifying attempts after both drivers crashed in separate incidents during practice earlier in the day. Justin Wilson did not participate in qualifying as well due to a mechanical issue he experienced just before making his laps.

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