Points Lead Gives Castroneves Pole Position at Motegi

April 18, 2008

MOTEGI, Japan (April 18, 2008) -- The rain was both good -- very good -- and bad to Team Penske on Friday in Japan.
Helio Castroneves will start from the pole position in Saturday’s Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi, but his Penske teammate, Ryan Briscoe, who was solid in Thursday practice sessions, will start 15th.
Qualifying was washed out Friday because of persistent rain. As the current IndyCar Series points leader, Castroneves will start from the pole in the No. 3 Team Penske Honda/Dallara.
“I’m sitting in the right spot in the championship to be in this situation, and I’ll take it," said Castroneves, who had the fourth-fastest lap in practice Thursday. "We feel we have a consistent car. In the last few years we were very fast here, and I feel we can continue. Once you have a good car and (qualifications) are rained out, you prevent a lot of competitors from improving. Hopefully we can do what we did in 2006.”
After qualifying was rained out at Motegi in 2006, Castroneves started first and led 184 laps en route to the 6.3-second victory over Dan Wheldon. This is Castroneves’ third consecutive pole-position start at the 1.52-mile track.
Fate wasn’t so kind to Briscoe. He had the seventh-fastest lap in practice Thursday in the No. 6 Team Penske Honda/Dallara but will start 15th in Saturday’s race based on his place in the series standings.  
The race is one of two points events this weekend for the IndyCar Series. Champ Car teams, some of which are making the transition to the IndyCar Series, are competing Sunday in the final Champ Car race at Long Beach.
The Motegi race is scheduled to begin shortly after 12 a.m. EDT Saturday. It will be televised live on ESPN2, and ESPN will replay the race Saturday at 3 p.m. EDT.