Helio Castroneves toured the 1.52-mile Twin Ring Motegi Superspeedway at an average speed of 205.393 mph to earn his second straight pole. "I found that speed in my pocket," said Castroneves, after earning his series leading 18th career pole. "The...
Helio Castroneves toured the 1.52-mile Twin Ring Motegi Superspeedway at an average speed of 205.393 mph to earn his second straight pole. "I found that speed in my pocket," said Castroneves, after earning his series leading 18th career pole. "The car was perfect."
The front row sports a familiar combination of red and white cars as Dan Wheldon qualified second, 0.0298 seconds behind Castroneves. Wheldon's average speed was 205.141, a tick slower than his track record of 205.762 mph set in April 2004. Only two drivers broke the 205-mph barrier. "It's obviously very good to start on the front row," said Wheldon. "It's going to be a very competitive race."
The second pair of red and white cars will start on the third row, divided from their teammates by a pair of Andretti Green Racing drivers, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick. Kanaan qualified at 204.777 mph. "I was expecting one-tenth quicker but Andretti Green Racing did a very good job," said Kanaan. "I think we have four good race cars. It's a long race and qualifying really means nothing at this track. I'm pretty confident that we have a strong car for the race."
Danica Patrick, who turned the fastest lap on Friday, will start fourth. Confident that she has a good car for Saturday's race, Patrick said, "We're here to qualify on the pole but ultimately the races are long days and you can come from any position to win. The Motorola car felt very good but having a car that can do it for 200 laps is another story and I think we've got that car."
The third row will resemble the front with the Team Penske entry of Sam Hornish on the inside and Scott Dixon's Target Ganassi Racing car alongside. While Castroneves thought his car was perfect, Hornish encountered a small problem. "We had a vibration in one of the tires, which affected our qualifying run. I'm not sure if we had enough to get Helio, but I think we had a top-three car. We'll keep working on it and hopefully have a good run tomorrow in the race."
Scott Dixon, who struggled to find speed throughout practice, managed to mount a solid qualifying effort and will start sixth. "We're in the show and not too far back with a really good race car. The car was the most comfortable it has been all weekend. We were struggling to go flat in practice and made some adjustments just before qualifying, and it worked really well. I'm a little disappointed because we should have trimmed out more, but it's OK. I'm looking forward to having a good race and stay atop the standings."
Dario Franchitti spent most of the day working on race setup and didn't try his qualifying setup until the last five minutes of practice. "Qualifying and the race are a lot different," Franchitti said. "I think we are in good shape for the race tomorrow."
Tomas Scheckter will start eighth followed by Kosuke Matsuura and Marco Andretti.