Rahal takes first oval pole at Kansas

Graham Rahal has taken pole position for the first oval round of the 2009 IndyCar Series after a commanding run in qualifying at Kansas Speedway

Rahal takes first oval pole at Kansas

The American heads Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves on the provisional grid - but the latter pair's qualifying runs are both under review by Indy Racing League officials to see if they illegally dipped below the white line.

If Franchitti and Castroneves are disqualified, Newman/Haas/Lanigan will gain a front row sweep, for Rahal's rookie team-mate Robert Doornbos was a spectacular fourth fastest in his first ever oval qualifying session.

Championship leader Franchitti had held on to the top spot for most of the session, which was delayed by 40 minutes while a major oil spillage from the preceding Truck qualifying was cleaned up.

It looked like only the officials would be able to deny Franchitti pole, but even while they were deliberating whether to penalise the Long Beach winner, Rahal produced a four-lap average of 211.311mph to take his second pole of the season after also leading the field to the start at St Petersburg.

The result was the first time that one of the recent Champ Car convert teams had taken an oval pole in the IndyCar Series.

"I think this is even sweeter, for us to be on pole on an oval is quite an achievement," said Rahal. "It shows how hard these guys have worked all winter long. It's incredible for us."

Danica Patrick completes the current top five for Andretti Green, despite reckoning that she had never had so much oversteer on a qualifying run before.

Champion and practice pace-setter Scott Dixon took sixth in the second Ganassi car, followed by AGR's Marco Andretti and KV driver Mario Moraes, who secured a career-best eighth on the grid.

Double Kansas winner Dan Wheldon was 11th for Panther Racing, behind Tony Kanaan (AGR) and Ryan Briscoe (Penske).

Having taken a shock ninth in practice, series returnee Sarah Fisher had to settle for a still-impressive 13th in qualifying in her self-run car, one place ahead of another female driver making her seasonal debut in Milka Duno, who has replaced Darren Manning at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who started the season with second at St Petersburg, continued to struggle for speed as he had in practice. The Vision Racing driver was slowest of all.

Pos Driver Team Speed 1. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 211.311 2. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 210.967 3. Helio Castroneves Penske 210.857 4. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 210.665 5. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 210.470 6. Scott Dixon Ganassi 210.368 7. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 210.220 8. Mario Moraes KV 210.197 9. Ryan Briscoe Penske 210.098 10. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 210.082 11. Dan Wheldon Panther 209.144 12. Ed Carpenter Vision 208.956 13. Sarah Fisher Fisher 208.543 14. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 208.537 15. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 208.506 16. Vitor Meira Foyt 208.461 17. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 208.382 18. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 208.145 19. Justin Wilson Coyne 207.971 20. EJ Viso HVM 206.779 21. Stanton Barrett 3G 205.820 22. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 205.673 

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