For the second consecutive year, Helio Castroneves will start from the IndyCar Series pole at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, as the Team Penske driver seeks to repeat his back-to-back triumphs at both the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300. Castroneves won both events in 2006, and was triumphant once again at St. Petersburg earlier this month.
Castroneves posted a near-record average speed of 205.393 miles per hour around the 1.5-mile Motegi oval to claim his 18th career IndyCar pole, just edging two-time Motegi race winner Dan Wheldon, who will start on the outside of the second row, by three-hundredths of a second.
Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick qualified third and fourth to make up the second row of the starting grid, with Sam Hornish Jr. and Scott Dixon, respective teammates of the front row duo, qualifying fifth and sixth.
It was an incident-free day at the Honda-owned facility north of Tokyo, and a day that once again featured 100 per cent Honda engine reliability throughout the 18-car field.
Saturday's 200-lap event starts at 1 p.m. local time. Please note a change to the tape-delayed television coverage in the United States, which will now start at 3 p.m. EDT on ESPN.
Helio Castroneves (#3 Penske Racing Honda) pole qualifier, second consecutive pole in 2007, 18th
career IndyCar pole
“Today was nearly a perfect day for us. At the start of this season, we often had a strong race car, but lacked a little bit in qualifying. But today, my team made just a few small changes from practice to qualifying and that made all the difference in the world. Now we know what it takes to be fast in qualifying as well. There are a lot of good teams and drivers in the IndyCar Series right now, but hopefully I'll be able to climb the fence [his regular victory celebration] after the checkered flag tomorrow.”