Andretti leads final practice at Fontana

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The last practice pacesetter of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season is Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport.

The driver of the No. 25 Dr Pepper Chevrolet clocked in a fastest lap of 218.755 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway under the lights. Helio Castroneves was second ahead of Ed Carpenter, Tony Kanaan and polesitter Will Power. Points leader Scott Dixon was sixth.

All of the top four were in the 218 mph range before the rest of the runners dropped off into the 213 to 217 mph range.

Alex Tagliani (eighth) and Oriol Servia (13th) each ran the most laps, 41, while Tristan Vautier managed only one before pitting with half the session complete, with apparent mechanical issues for his No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

Pippa Mann (30 laps) and Takuma Sato (35) returned to the track after missing qualifying due to their accidents in practice one. Both drivers were in their primary cars, after repair work from the Dale Coyne and A.J. Foyt Racing crews.

The 30-minute session provided an opportunity to test varying lines for the MAVTV 500, which will go green at 6:10 p.m. PT instead of the planned 5:50 p.m. Glare and obscured sight lines entering Turn 3 necessitated the decision, which was announced earlier Friday by INDYCAR.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.