Qualifying for the third round of the IRL IndyCar Series has been cancelled as the forecast rain halted all on-track action at Motegi today.
The grid will therefore be based on current championship positions, with Penske driver Helio Castroneves handed pole position.
"I'm sitting in the right spot in the championship to be in this situation, and I'll take it," Castroneves said. "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 a 6.3-second victory over Dan Wheldon. This is Castroneves' third consecutive pole-position at the 1.52-mile track.
Homestead winner Scott Dixon (Ganassi) will join Castroneves on the front row, ahead of Andretti-Green's Tony Kanaan, who was fastest in Thursday practice.
Castroneves' Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe is worst affected by the loss of qualifying, as his crashes at Homestead and St Petersburg mean he will start a lowly 15th at Motegi.
Beck Motorsports' Roger Yasukawa, who is making his first start of the season at his home race, will line up at the back of the grid.
Only the pre-2008 IRL teams are contesting the Motegi round, with the Champ Car converts instead racing at Long Beach this weekend in a separate event that will count for IndyCar points but is billed as the last ever Champ Car World Series race.
This unusual split was the compromise solution to a date clash that arose when the warring series completed their last-minute merger deal in February. The organisers were unwilling to lose either Honda's home meeting at Motegi or the prestigious former Champ Car event at Long Beach, but could not find an alternative date for either race.
The Friday rain in Japan - which also forced the cancellation of final practice - had been widely anticipated. Teams had therefore focused on race set-ups during yesterday's two practice sessions in the expectation that they would not have to worry about four-lap qualifying runs this weekend.
Dixon and Kanaan had been fastest in the sessions that were held before the poor weather intervened.
Provisional starting order:
Pos Driver Team 1. Helio Castroneves Penske 2. Scott Dixon Ganassi 3. Tony Kanaan Andretti-Green 4. Marco Andretti Andretti-Green 5. Dan Wheldon Ganassi 6. Danica Patrick Andretti-Green 7. Ed Carpenter Vision 8. AJ Foyt IV Vision 9. Hideki Mutoh Andretti-Green 10. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rahal-Letterman 11. Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold 12. Darren Manning Foyt 13. Vitor Meira Panther 14. Jay Howard Roth 15. Ryan Briscoe Penske 16. Townsend Bell Dreyer & Reinbold 17. Marty Roth Roth 18. Roger Yasukawa Beck