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Title contenders Franchitti, Power struggle in Vegas qualifying

Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) - The battle between Dario Franchitti and Will Power for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship got more interesting on Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In a stunning qualifying session, both drivers will start Sunday's season- finale 300-mile race from mid-pack in the 34-car field. Power qualified 17th, which tied his worst starting position of the season. The Team Penske driver started in that position at Milwaukee. Franchitti's 18th-place position marked his season low. They will share row nine.

"That's definitely not the result we wanted out of qualifying, but we know this is going to be a pack race, and hopefully we can use that to our advantage and move forward," Power said. "We need to win, and we have some time between now and then to make sure we are getting the most out of the car."

Franchitti presently holds an 18-point lead over Power from Team Penske. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is attempting to win his record third straight and fourth overall IndyCar championship.

"I'm glad I don't have to make up those 18 points." Franchitti said. "When I saw Will do his lap, I was pleasantly surprised."

Tony Kanaan posted a two-lap average of 222.078 mph on the 1.5-mile track to earn his 15th career IndyCar pole but his first since June 2008 at Richmond. Kanaan is in his first season with KV Racing Technology. The 36-year-old Brazilian just returned from Kona, Hawaii after competing in last weekend's Ironman World Championship event there.

"It feels awesome," Kanaan said. "I guess I've got to do more Ironmans on my weekends off. I cant thank the [team] enough. We had such an awful race at Kentucky that we needed to turn it around. They went back to the shop to massage that car as much as they could, and it paid off."

Kanaan, the second-to-last driver to qualify, edged Oriol Servia for the pole by just 0.0037 seconds.

Ed Carpenter, who scored his first IndyCar win earlier this month at Kentucky, qualified third, followed by Alex Tagliani, who is driving the No.98 car for Bryan Herta Autosport and Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Danica Patrick and Mike Conway completed the top-10.

Dan Wheldon will start from the rear of the field in his attempt to spit a $5 million cash award with one lucky fan if he wins the race. Wheldon is driving the No.77 car, which is normally occupied by Tagliani.

Sunday's 300-mile race at Las Vegas is scheduled to start at 3:45 p.m. (et).

10/14 21:08:53 ET


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