WEST ALLIS, Wis. — As the Andretti Autosport teams clogged the qualifying leaderboard, it sure looked as if the fix was in at the Milwaukee Mile.
Andretti drivers have won four of the last eight IndyCar races at Milwaukee, and Michael Andretti's marketing group is in its second year promoting the event. So when his son, Marco, jumped to P1 in Friday's qualifying session, followed by all three of his teammates, he could chuckle that perhaps something was awry.
"We get extra horsepower here," Michael Andretti joked.
In the end, Will Power of Penske Racing prevented an Andretti sweep by wedging himself in the middle of the four Andretti cars. When the field goes green Saturday, it will be Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe starting on the front row, followed by Power and then Andretti drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending race winner, and E.J. Viso.
Asked what was up with the Andretti domination, Hinchcliffe had an answer far more entertaining than a claim of extra horsepower.
"Pixie dust," Hinchcliffe said. "We were cleaning out the attic at the shop and came upon this little bag, and we spread the dust over all the cars."
All jokes aside, it's shaping up to be a race for an Andretti driver to lose in Saturday's 250-mile event.
Marco Andretti won the pole with a two-lap average speed of 170.515 mph around the mile oval. It's his second career at Milwaukee, and third overall, and he beat Hinchcliffe's average of 170.418 for a front row sweep for the Andretti cars.
"That's as good as I could have done," said Andretti, who scoured the qualifying order after his lap. "I'm dying to see who is out there who can beat me."
Power was third at 170.212, followed by Hunter-Reay and Viso.
Sebastian Saavedra was sixth and Tony Kanaan was seventh as Chevrolet drivers swept the top seven spots.
Josef Newgarden was the highest qualifying Honda at eighth.
Helio Castroneves, last week's winner at Texas, qualified 18th. His car failed post-race inspection Saturday night and IndyCar this week fined Penske Racing $35,000 and docked Roger Penske 15 owner points.
But Castroneves maintained his lead in the IndyCar Series standings, which is 22 points over Marco Andretti.
Marco Andretti, though, has his eye on the winner's circle Saturday. He's finished inside the top seven in seven of the eight IndyCar races this year and is eager to grab his first victory since 2011.
"Man, I am so hungry to get the monkey off my back because once I do, I think they (wins) are going to steamroll from there," Andretti said. "We're knocking on the door and that's all we've got to do. Hopefully it will come through."
And the pressure is on for Andretti to do it this weekend at Milwaukee as a Father's Day gift to Michael.
"It would be huge, and I told him hopefully this is only part of his Father's Day gift," Marco said. "We have the car to do it, we have four great shots. I also have to credit Andretti Autosport as a whole, four out of the top five is pretty awesome."
Especially considering how far off Hinchcliffe was in both practice sessions Friday. He smacked the wall in Turn 2 in the first session, damaging his car, and was far off of his teammates' pace.
"Change after change didn't seem to make it any better and it was tough," Hinchcliffe said. "We were scratching our heads wondering what we should do, and our teammates were first, second and fourth, just making us look stupid. We went through the whole car and my head was in the wrong place.
"But everybody did a good job. The team did its job in getting the car sorted, and I pulled my head out to forget about practice and here we are."