Auto racing: Power earns pole for Milwaukee IndyCar

Sydney: Australian Will Power, closing in on his first IndyCar crown, earned pole position Saturday for Sunday`s Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile.

Power, driving the Chevrolet-powered number 12 Penske car, recorded a two-lap average speed of 169.262 mph (272.4 Km/h) for his third pole of the season and the 35th of his IndyCar career.

"It`s just a great start to the three-race chase you could say for the championship finish," said Power, whose best finish in five starts at Milwaukee was a second place.

"It`s traditionally a track position race," he said. "In practice, it was definitely hard to pass so I can see you`re going to be in traffic all day."

Power earned one bonus point and carries a five-point lead over Team Penske team-mate Helio Castroneves into the 16th of 18 races this season. Brazil`s Castroneves qualified eighth.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has won at Milwaukee the past two years and is third in the standings, qualified 19th in his Andretti Autosport car.

Power held the top spot in the IndyCar standings with three races remaining in 2010 and 2012, but finished runner-up in the championship in both years.

He`s hoping things will go differently this year over these final three races at Milwaukee, Sonoma in northern California and Fontana in southern California.

The season-ending race on August 30 at Fontana is the final leg in IndyCar`s "Triple Crown" and awards double points.

"I`ve been in this situation quite a few times," Power said this week. "But IndyCar is like that these days. It`s very tight. It`s so unpredictable. With three to go, I just think anything can happen. You`ve just got to keep your head in the game and keep focused. That`s my plan."

Brazil`s Tony Kanaan matched his season high by qualifying second in his Ganassi car. Penske`s Juan Pablo Montoya was third-quickest ahead of 2008 Milwaukee winner Ryan Briscoe of Australia.

Josef Newgarden rounded out the top five.