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LAS VEGAS -- Danica Patrick is down to her last day in the IndyCar Series before moving full-time to NASCAR next year.
She will start ninth in Sunday's Izod IndyCar World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Despite having been the fastest of 34 cars in practice on Thursday, she is not disappointed.
"Overall, I think our team is pretty good," she said after the Friday afternoon qualifying session.
"I was surprised by the speed in qualifying. I thought we would be a little faster."
Her speed Thursday, when cars ran in packs, was a two-lap average of 224.719 mph. When only one car was on the 1.5-mile oval for qualifying, it slowed to 220.925 mph.
"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 [suspension components] as in practice. I went a little quicker in the second lap and that's good."
Tony Kanaan was the fastest by posting a two-lap average of 50.0582 seconds at 222.078 mph to earn his first pole in three years.
Oriol Servia, who was nearly as fast as Patrick on Thursday, qualified second at 222.061 mph.
All drivers expect Sunday's season finale to feature cars racing up to four wide on the broad, banked track.
"It's not going to be one row like that, there's going to be many, many rows two, three wide," Servia said. "I expect it to be really hairy and dangerous."
"This will be a pack race on Sunday," said Patrick, whose only other qualifying effort this year in the top 10 was when she started second at Iowa Speedway for Andretti Autosport in June.
With such tight racing at speeds over 220 mph she places value on her solid qualifying run.
"It's nice to qualify towards the front of the field," said Patrick. "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."
Patrick and the other IndyCar drivers will not be on the track Saturday, but will participate in a free autograph session 10-11 a.m. local time at Mandalay Bay.