FONTANA, Calif. -- Intentional or not, Verizon IndyCar Series championship front-runner Will Power made a statement in the initial practice session for the title-deciding MAVTV 500.

Protagonist and Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves wouldn't let Power's fast lap of 221.389 mph go without a shot to the bow, too, and posted a lap on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval that was only .0051 of a second off the pace.

Power enters the finale with a 51-point advantage over Castroneves. Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports, who was 12th on the speed chart in the 75-minute session, is another 30 points back. The final leg of the Triple Crown series is worth double points (104 max points on the table).

Power earned the pole for the October 2013 race with an average speed of 220.775 mph -- a two-lap track record -- and went on to win for the first time on a superspeedway.

Ed Carpenter, who has finished first and second the past two years at the superspeedway, was third (219.413 mph) in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka entry for Ed Carpenter Racing. Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon (219.326) and Tony Kanaan (219.290) also were in the top five, while Charlie Kimball of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing was sixth (219.235). The top 21 cars were separated by less than ninth-tenths of a second.

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Live streaming of qualifications at 5:15 p.m. (ET) and the final practice session at 10:15 p.m. (ET), augmented by real-time Timing & Scoring and the IMS Radio Network broadcast with Paul Page, is on

The 250-lap race will be telecast on NBCSN, starting at 9 p.m. (ET) Aug. 30. IMS Radio Network affiliates, XM209, Sirius 213, and the INDYCAR 14 app also will have the race broadcast.

In five hours of track time during an Aug. 27 Open Test at the superspeedway, Scott Dixon was fastest with a lap of 219.462 mph (32.8075 seconds). Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske car was second (219.159 mph).

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Fontana Practice 1 Infographic