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Will Power grabs early lead in race for Indy pole

Saturday - 5/18/2013, 7:40pm  ET

Will Power, of Australia, covers his ear as he waits to be interview on the public address system following his qualification run on the first day of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Will Power was the most relieved man in Roger Penske's garage Saturday.

After spending most of the week frustrated as he tried to find speed, Roger Penske's team finally came up with the answers the Australian needed to move into position for his first Indianapolis 500 pole.

Power posted a four-lap average of 228.844 mph -- significantly faster than defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was second at 228.282 -- heading into Saturday's nine-car shootout for the top starting spot in the May 26 race.

It was a refreshing change.

"We struggled early in the week, we just finally got quicker and quicker," Power said. "One more step and I think it would be 230."

He'll get that chance in the shootout.

But it was a stark contrast to the guy who looked demoralized following another frustrating practice session Thursday. Back then, Power seemed resigned to the fact he wouldn't be in contention for the shootout.

His perspective started to change Friday following a major jump up the speed charts. Power's steady progression continued Saturday morning when he posted the fastest lap in pre-qualifying practice. Then, after waiting through a rain delay of roughly 2
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