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August 21, 2017

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Hunter-Reay speeds past competition in IndyCar qualifying

EDMONTON, Canada -- IndyCar series points leader Ryan Hunter-Reay was fastest in qualifying for the Edmonton Indy on Saturday, but a penalty means Dario Franchitti will start Sunday's race from pole position.

Hunter-Reay clocked 1min 17.23 seconds around the 2.2-mile (3.5 km), 13-turn circuit at Edmonton's City Centre Airport.

But he will start 11th because his Andretti team is serving a 10-place grid penalty for an unapproved engine change after the Toronto Indy two weeks ago.

That bumped up Franchitti, who was second-fastest in qualifying, and put third-place finisher Ryan Briscoe beside Franchitti on the front row for the 75-lap race.

IndyCar rules this season don't allow an engine to be changed until it has run 1,850 miles.

"It's certainly unfortunate to be taking the grid penalty with our first pole this year — and my first pole in a long time — but we'll take it for sure," said Hunter-Reay, whose last pole position was in 2004.

Hunter-Reay goes into the race leading the season standings with 336 points.

Despite the penalty, he keeps the point for earning pole position, which gives him a 35-point lead ahead of Australian Will Power.

Power, who didn't qualify for the "fast six" final session of qualifying that determines the top spots on the grid, suffered another blow when his Penske team said they would change out his engine — moving him to 17th on the starting grid.

The day's qualifying was complicated by the weather, with teams coping with a track that went from dry, to wet, to drying throughout the session.

"That session was white knuckle, I'll tell you that much," Hunter-Reay said.

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