Sat, Apr 22, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Castroneves takes Japan 300 pole

AP , MOTEGI, JAPAN

Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves of Brazil drives his machine during a practice session ahead of the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan, yesterday. Castroneves was awarded pole position for today's race.

PHOTO: AP

Helio Castroneves was awarded pole position for today's Indy Japan 300 after yesterday's qualifying session was canceled because of rain.

Castroneves, winner of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg earlier this month, was given pole position for the third race of the Indy Racing League season because he leads the IRL championship with 93 points.

"I always like racing in Japan and I'm looking forward to Saturday's race," said Castroneves, who drives for Team Penske. "Motegi is a challenging place because you're flat out in turns one and two, and you have to downshift in turns three and four."

Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, second in the standings with 70 points, will join Castroneves on the front row for Saturday's race at the 2.4km Twin Ring Motegi circuit north of Tokyo.

Dixon's teammate Dan Wheldon, looking for his third straight win at Motegi, will be on the second row with Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. Castroneves had a fastest lap of 27.146 seconds in a practice session Friday. Wheldon and Scott Sharp were second and third, respectively. Castroneves has had mixed results in Japan.

In seven starts at Motegi, the Brazilian driver earned two top-three finishes and one pole. Last year he started fourth, but finished 11th after he was involved in an accident on lap 198.

Wheldon, who won the season-opening race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in March, inherited the lead on the 198th lap here last year when Tomas Scheckter ran out of fuel on the front-stretch.

No driver has won three years in a row at the same track during the IndyCar Series era.

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