Helio Castroneves will start Saturday’s Indy Japan 300 from the pole position as rain washed out IndyCar
Series qualifying Friday at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, and Indy Racing League officials elected to set
the 20-car starting field based on team entrant points earned in the first two races this season.
Marlboro Team Penske’s Castroneves, winner of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and second at
the season-opening race in Homestead, Florida, thus earns the top starting position. Target Chip
Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon will start second, followed by teammate (and Homestead race winner) Dan
Wheldon and Sam Hornish Jr. in the second Team Penske entry.
Tony Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion, and local favorite Kosuke Matsuura will share the third
row in the fifth and sixth starting positions, followed by Bryan Herta and Scott Sharp, who round out the
top eight starters.
Despite the lack of qualifying, the IRL did manage to run a 90-minute final practice session on Friday
afternoon, with Castroneves again fastest at 201.574 mph. Wheldon, Sharp, 2004 Indy 500 winner
Buddy Rice and Matsuura completed the top five in the final practice prior to the race.
Saturday’s 200-lap Indy Japan 300, the third round of the 14-race 2006 IndyCar season, starts at 1 p.m.
locally in Japan, with television coverage in the USA on ESPN starting at noon, EDT.