Hunter-Reay knocks championship contender Dixon from pole

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Ryan Hunter-Reay snatched the pole from championship contender Scott Dixon in the final seconds of qualifying Saturday at Sonoma Raceway.

Hunter-Reay crossed the timing line in 1 minute, 17.6277 seconds to earn his first pole of the season and deny Dixon the top starting spot. Dixon, who is vying for a fifth IndyCar title, went 1:17.7599 seconds and was atop the leader board until the very end.

Dixon has a 29-point lead over Alexander Rossi in the standings and the pole would have given him an additional point before Sunday’s race. The event is worth double points and Rossi, a teammate of Hunter-Reay’s at Andretti Autosport, starts sixth.

“I’m certainly doing my part, I just took a point away from Dixon,” said Hunter-Reay, who earned the seventh pole of his career and first since Long Beach in 2014.

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Reigning champion Josef Newgarden qualified third and was followed by Marco Andretti and Patricio O’Ward, who qualified fifth for his IndyCar debut. A nine-time winner in Indy Lights this season, the Mexican advanced into the Fast Six round in his Harding Racing entry.

Will Power had a rare off day in qualifying and wound up seventh, out of contention to challenge for an eighth pole this season. It’s Power’s lowest starting position of the season.

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