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Power on pole in Texas, Helio expects tougher race

FORT WORTH, Texas — Will Power is thinking only about racing, not points. Helio Castroneves is focusing on what he needs to do each day.

Those similar philosophies are working quite well for the Team Penske drivers, who are 1-2 in season points and trying to get Roger Penske his first IndyCar season title since 2006.

"Obviously, I want to be the one to get the championship, let's face it. ... You want to be the one," Castroneves said Friday. "As a team, I think we're driving, everyone is pushing each other. ... At the end of the day, we have the same goal, and probably that's why it's helping everybody."

Season points leader Power is the pole-sitter for the second year in a row at Texas, where Castroneves is a four-time winner after his nearly 5-second victory last June. Both were winners last weekend at Detroit. Power, who has been top eight in all seven races this season, won the opener at Belle Isle and Castroneves got the second race.

"I'm just racing how I raced the end of last year, which is not thinking about anything but racing," Power said. "Just trying to do a good job week in, week out. I'm just that focused on winning. The whole points thing, too many years of being conservative, thinking of points. Doesn't personally do me any good."

Power had a two-lap average of 218.896 mph in qualifying at the high-banked, high-speed 1 1/2-mile track for his 34th career pole.

Josef Newgarden will start second Saturday night for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing after qualifying at 217.835 mph. That was just ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan.

After starting first at Texas last year, Power finished seventh. He was a lap behind Castroneves, who led the final 132 of 228 laps and finished 4.7 seconds ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay. Castroneves' other three Texas victories — in 2004, 2006 and 2009 — were by a combined margin of just over a second.

Castroneves, who qualified at 216.591 mph to start 14th, expects a much different race at Texas this time with drivers having the option of more downforce and 20 more laps than last year.

"A good car is still going to be a good car, and maybe because I enjoy the place, and I like the place, it's probably going to help on the No. 3 side. But I feel that we're going to have much more people on the mix," he said, flashing a smile. "It's going to be a more competitive event, unfortunately."

Newgarden, making his 41st IndyCar start, had his best qualifying effort. And it came even as a surprise to him after not doing any qualifying runs during his 75-minute practice session.

"We threw something at it for qualifying," he said. "We didn't go super conservative, we didn't go all the way to the edge. But the car was just really fast. I don't know if it's that it looks so good that it was fast."

Hunter-Reay won the Indianapolis 500 by 0.06 seconds over Castroneves, the second-closest finish ever at the Brickyard. That is among five top-five finishes this season for Castroneves, including the last three races were he has led nearly one-third of the laps.

The popular Brazilian sure seems to be in quite a groove, though he had to be told exactly what that meant.

"Momentum, I get it," he said "Yes, of course, especially coming to a place that historically we have been very good."

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