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Hunter-Reay knocks championship contender Dixon from pole

SONOMA, Calif. — 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.

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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