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IndyCar - Andretti Qualifying Reports - Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS, Oct. 15, 2011: Marco Andretti and his No. 26 Team Dr Pepper TEN machine led the strong qualifying performance for Andretti Autosport Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday's IZOD INDYCAR World Championships, the final round of the 17-race 2011 season. All four Andretti Autosport drivers qualified in the top-ten Friday.

Andretti, the Iowa winner, will make his 100th career IndyCar start Sunday when the green flag falls at 12:45 p.m. PDT.

Marco will start sixth in the 34-driver field by piloting his pretty burgundy and gray Dr Pepper TEN entry to a two-lap average of 221.129 mph at the 1.5-mile high-banked oval north of the Las Vegas Strip.

Andretti is followed in the Andretti Autosport contingent by Ryan Hunter-Reay seventh, Danica Patrick ninth and Mike Conway tenth.

Hunter-Reay, the winner at the New Hampshire oval, posted a speed of 221.040 mph as the Florida driver seeks to improve his current seventh place ranking in the season point standings in the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car. He is just 20 points out of fifth place.

Patrick, the fastest driver in Thursday practice, drove her No. 7 Team machine to ninth Friday with 220.925 mph speed, while Conway, the Long Beach champion, took the No. 27 Grime Boss car to a 220.922 mph to round out the top-ten in time trials.

In a unique situation, the IZOD IndyCar Series stars are away from the track Saturday with autograph sessions and sponsor events.

Thursday night proved to be an exciting display at the Las Vegas Strip when all 34 drivers took their IndyCars from one end to the other with tens of thousands of spectators watching the first-time event for race cars on the Strip.


Will start Sunday's race in sixth position

"Overall the Dr Pepper TEN car is strong and I think we'll be a contender on Sunday. We'll be good in traffic, but everyone is going to be good in traffic - that's why it's going to be a great race for the fans."


Starts the season finale in P10

"The track temperature was pretty much the same as in practice. Not a bad run. It is not as quick as practice but that was with a tow [draft]. I didn't get as much as I wanted on the first lap, but my second lap seemed to be pretty good in the Grime Boss car. I was able to work with my tools better on the second one. It will be a crazy race on Sunday."


Will start the race from P7

"We got a little bit of a bad draw going early, so we didn't know what to expect in qualifying. It [the speed] is a little slower than we thought. We thought maybe a mid-221 at least. I know that our guys have built a great race car and will be ready for the battle on Sunday. This race will be a strong showing for Andretti Autosport. I am anxious for the race. It should be a good run for the Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop car. This is going to be less of a handling track as Texas. Thus, that means the cars with not the best balance will be able to hang in the pack. That will mean some very intense racing. It should a wild one."


Starts the race in ninth position

"Overall, I think our team is pretty good. I was surprised by the speed in qualifying. I thought we would be a little faster. I wasn't able to get up to speed as fast as I would have liked. I did what I wanted to do with my bars and weight jacker as in practice. I went a little quicker in second lap and that is good. This will be a pack race on Sunday. So while it is nice to qualify towards the front of the field, I'm not sure that will be a big factor for the race. If you have a fast car in the race, I think you will move to the front pretty quickly."