Penalties give NHLR front row sweep

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team-mates Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos will share the front row of the grid for the Kansas round of the IndyCar Series after post-qualifying penalties dropped Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves from second and third to the back of the field

Penalties give NHLR front row sweep

The Indy Racing League judged that championship leader Franchitti (Ganassi) and recent returnee Castroneves (Penske) had both violated the rules by crossing the white line at the bottom of the track during their qualifying laps.

It was the second time in his last four IndyCar races that Castroneves had been hit by such a penalty, as he had committed the same infraction in the title decider at Chicagoland last September, on that occasion coming from the back of the grid to take victory in the race.

Rahal had already claimed pole position before the penalties were applied, but the revised grid sees his rookie team-mate Doornbos gain a remarkable front row position for his first ever oval start.

The result is not only Rahal's first ever oval pole, and his second in three races this season, but also the first time that one of the teams that joined from Champ Car in 2008 has topped an oval grid.

"Qualifying pace has always been our issue on ovals," Rahal said. "To be honest, I think a lot of people thought it would be an issue again here for us. Certainly it hasn't been."

Franchitti held first for much of the session, holding on even when Castroneves looked set to beat him before losing pace on the last of his four qualifying laps.

But encouraged by Doornbos's impressive qualifying run, Rahal, the last driver on the track, put together an effort strong enough to top Franchitti.

"When I was told what Robert did time-wise in qualifying, I really did think we could go faster than that," Rahal said. "We were good on our own in practice."

The penalties mean that Danica Patrick will start from third for Andretti Green Racing, alongside reigning champion Scott Dixon (Ganassi), with Marco Andretti showing much-improved form to take fifth for AGR and KV Racing's Mario Moraes securing a career-best sixth on the grid.

Revised qualifying order:

Pos Driver Team Speed 1. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 211.311 2. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 210.665 3. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 210.470 4. Scott Dixon Ganassi 210.368 5. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 210.220 6. Mario Moraes KV 210.197 7. Ryan Briscoe Penske 210.098 8. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 210.082 9. Dan Wheldon Panther 209.144 10. Ed Carpenter Vision 208.956 11. Sarah Fisher Fisher 208.543 12. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 208.537 13. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 208.506 14. Vitor Meira Foyt 208.461 15. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 208.382 16. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 208.145 17. Justin Wilson Coyne 207.971 18. EJ Viso HVM 206.779 19. Stanton Barrett 3G 205.820 20. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 205.673 21. Dario Franchitti Ganassi - 22. Helio Castroneves Penske - 

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