Pagenaud extends points lead with pole for season finale in Sonoma

Simon Pagenaud is targetting his first IndyCar Series championship title this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

Simon Pagenaud will start on pole position for Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway in California.

Sunday’s race serves at the season finale of the 2016 IndyCar Series, with Pagenaud attempting to hold off Team Penske teammate Will Power for the championship.

Pagenaud had a 43-point lead coming into this weekend, but has now extended it to 44 with his pole, which he secured with a 1:16.2565 lap on Sunday.

However, Power won’t start far behind him, as Team Penske locked out the front two rows of the grid, while Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who also made it into the Firestone Fast Six, both had to settle for a third-row start. Power will be aided by the fact that Sunday’s race pays double points.

It came as little surprise to see all four Team Penske machines in the Firestone Fast Six as they had been fast all weekend, with Helio Castroneves topping the opening two practice sessions.

The third and final practice session ahead of qualifying was topped by Marco Andretti, but he was eliminated in the first round of qualifying on Saturday and will have to start from 14th on the grid.

Tires have been a heavy talking point for this weekend, with the reds suffering from high degradation, which could play a huge role in Sunday’s race.

Unofficial qualifying results:

1. Simon Pagenaud

2. Helio Castroneves

3. Juan Pablo Montoya

4. Will Power

5. Graham Rahal

6. Ryan Hunter-Reay

7. Scott Dixon

8. Alexander Rossi

9. Sebastien Bourdais

10. Josef Newgarden

11. Mikhail Aleshin

12. Charlie Kimball

13. Tony Kanaan

14. Marco Andretti

15. Takuma Sato

16. Carlos Munoz

17. Jack Hawksworth

18. Max Chilton

19. Spencer Pigot

20. James Hinchcliffe

21. Conor Daly

22. RC Enerson