Qualifying: Dixon beats the rain

Scott Dixon won the pole position long before rain started to fall. Rain washed out qualifying Saturday for the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. On the strength of practice lap of nearly 207 mph, Dixon was awarded the pole for Sunday's race, the first event outside the US for the IRL IndyCar Series

Qualifying: Dixon beats the rain

Dixon had the fastest laps in Friday's two practice sessions, then posted the third-fastest lap in Saturday morning's practice. His Target Chip Ganassi Panoz G Force-Toyota recorded the fastest lap of all three sessions - 206.996 mph - during Friday afternoon's session.

"We would have much rather ran to earn the pole, but I'm not going to complain starting on the front," Dixon said. "I don't know that being on the front row will be that big of an advantage in the race because I think you find a lot of drafting and passing. Starting position may not be that important."

Tony Kanaan will start outside Dixon on the front row in his Andretti Green Racing Dallara-Honda after recording the second-fastest laps in both of Friday's sessions and the fastest lap Saturday morning - 206.775 mph.

"Scott deserves pole," Kanaan said. "It's a shame we didn't get to qualify today, but a third consecutive front-row start is not so bad at all. We'll try and get a win tomorrow. Scott and I, we've been hooked up all weekend, so it should be a good fight."

IRL rules use the fastest laps from practice sessions in the event qualifying is cancelled. Tora Takagi will start third after his Mo Nunn Racing G Force-Toyota was clocked at 206.747, the second-fastest lap of Saturday's session. Tomas Scheckter will start fourth, Dan Wheldon an impressive fifth and Kenny Brack sixth.

Wheldon, replacing inured Dario Franchitti for the Motegi race, had the fastest lap of five qualifiers - 204.399 mph - before heavy rain hit the 1.5-mile track.

"I know I still have a lot to learn, but as the race progresses, I'm sure I'll catch up pretty quick," Wheldon said. "The team has given me a lot of confidence, and they allow me to believe that I'm going to do great in the race."

Franchitti is recovering from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident last week in Scotland. Gil de Ferran is recovering from injuries sustained in a crash at the Phoenix race and will be replaced by Alex Barron, who will start 12th at Motegi for Penske.

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