Lexington, OH (Sports Network) - Ryan Hunter-Reay will start on the pole for Sunday's IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after edging Will Power in qualifying.
Hunter-Reay, the defending series champion, came close to surpassing the track record at Mid-Ohio with a lap in 1 minute, 5.3519 seconds during the final segment in qualifying (Fast Six). The Andretti Autosport driver claimed his third pole of the season and the fifth of his IndyCar career. The record for the quickest lap in qualifying at this 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course is 1:05.347, which was set by Dario Franchitti in August 1999 and matched by Gil de Ferran in August 2000.
With six races to go this season, Helio Castroneves holds a 29-point lead over second-place Scott Dixon, while third-place Hunter-Reay trails by 68 points. Hunter-Reay has two wins this season (Birmingham and Milwaukee), but he has finished 18th, 19th and 20th in the last three races.
"Being late in the season, we need to go like we did last year at the end of the season, which is go for broke," Hunter-Reay said. "We're not interested in banking results right now and going for second or third in the championship, because nobody really remembers who finishes second a couple of years from now.
"We're going for it. Hopefully, this is the first step in it. But we have a long way to go, including (Sunday's) fight for the win."
Power, who won the pole for this race one year ago, qualified 0.184 seconds behind Hunter-Reay. Power has yet to win a race this season.
Scott Dixon will start third in his attempt to win his fourth consecutive race. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver won the inaugural race at Pocono and then scored a sweep in the weekend doubleheader in Toronto last month. He has won at Mid-Ohio four times, including victories in the previous two races here.
"We have six races to go, and anything can happen," Dixon said. "We're not focusing on Helio. We're just focusing on what we need to do."
Castroneves struggled in qualifying with a 15th-place result, failing to advance into Q2. It's the fourth time this season the Team Penske driver has qualified outside the top-10.
"We're going to try something different, because what we were planning on doing tomorrow strategy-wise won't work with as far back as we will have to start," Castroneves said. "Tomorrow will be a long race, and I know we'll be able to make it back up."
Marco Andretti, who is Hunter-Reay's teammate, qualified fourth, followed by Ganassi drivers Charlie Kimball and Franchitti.
Justin Wilson took the seventh spot, while Simon Pagenaud, Simona De Silvestro and James Jakes completed the top-10.
Sunday's 90-lap race at Mid-Ohio is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.