Castroneves Claims Japan Pole
April 20, 2007 | 12:57 A.M. EST
Castroneves, who also started from pole last season at the 1.5-mile oval (although the starting lineup in 2006 was based on driver points since qualifying was rained out), took his second consecutive pole position of 2007 and 18th of his IndyCar Series career.
"I found that speed in my pocket," said Castroneves, who gave Team Penske its third consecutive pole at Twin Ring Motegi. "The car was perfect. This series is very, very competitive, and I know a lot people will try to beat us tomorrow."
Coming out last in the qualifying session, Dan Wheldon came close overtaking Castroneves, but finished 0.0328 seconds behind with a fast lap of 205.141 mph.
Tony Kanaan, who led two of three practice sessions of the weekend, will start third with Andretti Green Racing teammate Danica Patrick, who led the second practice session of the weekend, and Sam Hornish Jr. rounding out the top five.
"We’re here to qualify on the pole but ultimately the races are long days and you can come from any position to win," said Patrick. "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. I expect to have a good race. I click pretty well with this track and have had solid races in the past.
"I really thought we had the fastest car here today but that’s alright. The Motorola car will start a little further back and make its way forward."
Current championship points leader Scott Dixon qualified sixth fastest with Dario Franchitti, Tomas Scheckter, Japanese born Kosuke Matsuura and Marco Andretti completing the top 10 of the 18-car field.
Saturday’s Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi is scheduled to take the green flag shortly after 12:01 a.m. (ET) Saturday. While IMS Radio and XM Satellite Radio will provide live coverage of the event, ESPN will offer the telecast of the 200 lap event at 3 p.m. (ET) on Saturday afternoon.