Penske’s Will Power smashed the Sonoma track record on route to pole for the IndyCar season finale.
Power, fourth in the championship going into the final round, beat Josef Newgarden in a closely fought qualifying session to claim his sixth pole of 2015 with a time of 1m16.525s – a new Sonoma track record.
Newgarden set the early pace in the final fast six shootout, heading rival Power by a fractional 0.0006s.
The reigning champion hit back to very briefly snatch provisional pole, only for Hunter-Reay to lap even quicker.
Power went for a third flying lap on a set of new black tyres, finding two-tenths to record his fifth Sonoma pole and claim the vital point that goes with it.
Newgarden was second for CFH Racing, ahead of Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud.
Points leader Juan Pablo Montoya was just fifth, and will be joined on row three by title rival Graham Rahal.
Charlie Kimball was seventh fastest, missing out on a spot in the final shootout by 0.004s.
Marco Andretti finished up eighth, ahead of championship hopeful Scott Dixon, who could only lap ninth fastest after losing 0.4s after encountering dust on the racing line on his red tyre lap.
Sebastian Saavedra was 10th for Chip Ganassi, as Tony Kanaan and Carlos Munoz rounded out the top 12.
Helio Castroneves, who is still within a mathematical chance of the title, albeit 77 points adrift of Montoya in the standings, will start the championship decider from 13th.
Image courtesy of IndyCar Media Service