Power wins pole at St. Pete as title contenders stumble

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Will Power won his fifth pole of the season and flirted with the St. Petersburg track record Saturday in qualifying for the IndyCar season finale.

Power will start from the pole Sunday on the downtown temporary street course for the ninth time in his career. Power is in a three-way fight with Colton Herta and rookie Pato O’Ward for third in the final standings.

The championship will be decided between Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden.

Dixon needs to finish only ninth or higher to wrap up a sixth championship. Newgarden is seeking a second consecutive title and third overall.

Neither had a strong qualifying day. Newgarden will start eighth and needs to win Sunday to have any chance at stopping Dixon.

“We took a swing at it and it wasn’t the right direction,” Newgarden said. “I didn’t get enough out of it. It makes our program a little harder tomorrow.”

Dixon, who had a lead of 117 points at one point in this season, joked he’s keeping the championship race entertaining with his slide.

“It’s got to be exciting, right?” Dixon said. “We start 11th and they start eighth, he’s not on the pole.”

Alexander Rossi, trying to prevent the first winless season of his career, starts second and teammate Colton Herta was third.

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