IRL: Point leader Castroneves has Motegi pole

Helio Castroneves will start from the pole position for Saturday's Japan Indy 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi. Although Castroneves continued to top the speed charts at the 1.5-mile superspeedway, rain canceled qualifying forcing Indy Racing League ...

Helio Castroneves will start from the pole position for Saturday's Japan Indy 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi. Although Castroneves continued to top the speed charts at the 1.5-mile superspeedway, rain canceled qualifying forcing Indy Racing League officials to set the grid by entrant points.

"We got the lucky draw this time so I'll take it," said the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. "Hopefully we'll finish the race in the same place we're starting."

Practice was delayed by rain for the second consecutive day with a single 90 minute session for all cars taking the green flag at 2:30 p.m. Castroneves showed that he's the man to beat after topping the speed charts for the second consecutive day. His best lap stopped the clocks at 27.1464 seconds (201.574 mph).

Scott Dixon will share the front row with Castroneves. "This is usually a race of very high attrition so starting from the front row with clean air and less traffic is a nice advantage to have. The start of the race and that first stint is sure to be intense and chaotic. The key will be to stay out of trouble and at the front."

Dixon's teammate Dan Wheldon will start third. Wheldon turned the second fastest lap of the day, missing Castroneves' time by 0.033 seconds to average 201.327 mph. Wheldon, who earned his first victory at Motegi in 2004, is vying to become the first driver to win three consecutive events at the same track.

Team Penske and Target Ganassi drivers will share the first and second rows of the grid with Sam Hornish starting fourth. Hornish, who was uninjured in a single car accident on Thursday, was eighth fastest on the day at 199.824mph.

Tony Kanaan and Kosuke Matsuura will start fifth and sixth, respectively, followed by Bryan Herta and Scott Sharp.

Sharp, third fastest on the day with a lap at 27.2433 (200.857 mph), was one of six drivers to break the 200 mph barrier today. Only two drivers, Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, surpassed that mark on Thursday.

Buddy Rice, Kosuke Matsuura and Vitor Meira all broke the 200 mph barrier today. Seventh fastest on the day, Tomas Scheckter, just missed the mark after averaging 199.987 mph.

Rookie driver Jeff Simmons was involved in the only on track incident of the day when he spun in Turn 4. "I just lost it," said Simmons. "I was out on new tires and I probably made the mistake. You don't think you're going to do anything wrong until it all goes wrong." Simmons was checked at the infield care center where he was cleared to drive.

Despite setting the 16th fastest lap of the day, without entrant points, Simmons will start last in the field of 20 cars.

The next on track activity for the IndyCar Series is the Indy Japan 300, which is scheduled to take the green flag Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske