Will Power wins pole in IndyCar return to Portland

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 27: Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, races during the 102nd Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 27, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Will Power is clinging to a spot in the championship race and the Indianapolis 500 winner will start from the pole in IndyCar’s return to Portland International Raceway.

Power won the 54th pole of his career and fourth of the season. The Australian is coming off a victory last weekend and a victory Sunday on the permanent road course would ensure he’s got a shot at winning his first IndyCar title.

Scott Dixon, the four-time IndyCar champion, holds a 26-point lead over Alexander Rossi. Power and defending series champion Josef Newgarden are both mathematically eligible to win the title with two races remaining. All our chasing Dixon, who had a poor qualifying run and was 11th.

“It’s Scott Dixon,” Rossi said. “We won’t count our chickens before they hatch.”

Portland hosted open wheel racing for 24 years until action halted in 2007. IndyCar returns after an 11-year absence to enthusiastic crowds and with Sunday’s event pivotal in the four-driver championship hunt. The finale in two weeks is worth double points, so it is critical for the contenders to leave Portland in strong position.

Power led a Team Penske front row as teammate Josef Newgarden qualified second. Newgarden is still in mathematical position to defend his title but has conceded it will be difficult as the fourth driver in the standings.

Power hasn’t given up because of double points, which he took advantage of when he won the Indy 500. Rossi, meanwhile, has won two of the last three races and was second to Power last week at Gateway.

Sebastien Bourdais, meanwhile, returns to the track as the last race winner and has been among the fastest in his bid to defend his 2007 victory. He set the fast lap in Saturday’s final session before qualifying but crashed on the next lap. His team had under three hours to patch together his damaged car, but Bourdais still pulled off a fourth–place qualifying effort.

“The car may have looked like a Frankenstein car, but it was just about as good,” Bourdais said.

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