Pagenaud On Poll For MAVTV 500

FONTANA, Calif. — The heat proved to be manageable, and Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud kept his cool on Friday to top qualifying for the IndyCar Series MAVTV 500.

With on-the-track temperatures approaching 140 degrees, Pagenaud (pictured) led the 23-car field with a two-lap average of 218.952 mph in claiming his first poll of the season.

“You want to stay out of trouble for 400 miles, and then go for it,” said Pagenaud, who has qualified on the front for each oval race this season.

“It’s going to almost impossible to break away,” he said.

It’s the second pole of Pagenaud’s career (Houston 2014), and the first with Team Penske.

Penske teammate Helio Castroneves (218.734 mph) was fractions slower than Pagenaud, and will start alongside the leader on Row 1.

“This is a track I’ve always favored, and I think I’ve learned a lot about,” Castroneves said. “We’ll see if that translates during the race tomorrow.”

Castroneves has five top-five starts at Auto Club Speedway.

Marco Andretti (217.797) and 2012 winner Ed Carpenter (217.666) will start on Row 2, with Juan Pablo Montoya (217.250) and 2014 winner Tony Kanaan (217.184) on Row 3.

“I think this may be the best machine we’ve had here,” Andretti said. “We’re tuned in and I think we’re ready to have a good day.”

It’s Andretti’s best qualifying effort of this season.

Scott Dixon (217.184) and 2013 MAVTV 500 winner Will Power (217.176) will be on Row 4.

Takuma Sato (217.109) and rookie Sage Karam (217.060) round out the top 10 qualifiers.

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