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Rank Driver Points
1 Will Power 671
2 Helio Castroneves 609
3 Scott Dixon 604
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 586
5 Simon Pagenaud 565
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 563
7 Tony Kanaan 544
8 Carlos Munoz 483
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32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8
Motegi Qualifying Rained Out, Castroneves on Pole

Indy Car
Friday, April 18, 2008

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Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves didn't have to do anything to earn the pole for the Indy Japan 300. That was taken care of during the first two IndyCar Series races of the season.

Castroneves will lead the field to the green flag on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval based on being the entrant points front-runner after qualifications for the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award were rained out.

It's the third year in a row that he'll start from the pole in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone in the 200-lap race. Under similar weather circumstances in '06, Castroneves was awarded the pole based on entrant points. He led 184 laps en route to the 6.3-second victory over Dan Wheldon. zzzz

"I'm sitting in the right spot in the championship to be in this situation and I'll take it," said Castroneves, who has won nine of the 30 races in which he's started from the pole.

"We feel we have a consistent car. In the last few years we were very fast here, and I feel we can continue."

Castroneves takes a 10-point lead over Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon entering the sixth annual race on the mountaintop oval - built on fourth- and second-place finishes. It will be Castroneves' 100th IndyCar Series start, and he promised to perform a short soft-shoe routine on the stage if he won.

A suspension issue early in the April 17 morning session limited the lap count, but Castroneves was fourth-quick (27.3556 seconds; 200.032 mph) overall at the end of the day.

"I didn't do many laps, but I feel comfortable that we'll go out there and won't have any issues," said Castroneves, who has started from the front row 40 times. "Once you have a good car and (qualifications) are rained out, you prevent a lot of competitors to improve. Hopefully, we can do what we did in 2006."

Dixon, who won the season opener on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval, will be making his third front-row start at TRM. He was on the pole in 2003, led 45 laps, but finished 15th because of a crash.

Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti will share Row 2, while Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick will be on Row 3. Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV will start from Row 4. Hideki Mutoh and Ryan Hunter-Reay, making their first IndyCar Series starts at Twin Ring Motegi, will be on the fifth row. Kanaan topped the full day of practice with a quick lap of 27.2453 seconds (200.842 mph).

"Unfortunately, with the rainout we were shorted an opportunity as we were really looking forward to moving up the grid," said Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 17 Ethanol car for Rahal Letterman Racing. "I was really looking forward to making the car better over the day. While we would have liked to have had a shot at moving up, starting 10th isn't bad. If we have a good race car, all that will be undone in the first few laps anyway."

The rain probably impacted Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe the most. He was seventh-quick in practice (27.4638 seconds; 199.244 mph) but will start 15th based on 19th and 23rd finishes (DNFs because of contact). Roger Yasukawa, making his season debut in the No. 77 Interush car for Beck Motorsports, will start 18th. IndyCar.com

Starting lineup for the Indy Japan 300 IndyCar Series event on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver and chassis-engine. Field set by entrant points after qualifications were rained out.

1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
3. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
4. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
5. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
6.  (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
7.  (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
8.  (2) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
9.  (27) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
10. (17) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
11. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
12. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
13. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
14. (24) Jay Howard, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
15. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
16. (23) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
17. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, entrant points
18. (77) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara-Honda, entrant points

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