Graham Rahal won his second career IndyCar pole in three races, and his first on an oval, to edge rookie Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team-mate Robert Doornbos by three-tenths of a second at the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway.

Earlier this month, Rahal lived up to the belief that he was something of a road/street course ace by becoming the youngest pole winner in major open-wheel racing history at the season-opening race at St Petersburg. Two races later, however, the 20-year old claims top spot for the first oval race of the season, improving on his second from Milwaukee last year.

"It's a fantastic start for the McDonald's team," Rahal commented, "First of all, for us to get a pole when we go to St Petersburg and then to do it again here at Kansas, I think it's quite a shock. And, obviously, in memory of Paul [Newman], it's great for us to have this success early in the season. Of course there's still a long way to go, but for us to get our first pole here, I hope it's a sign of things to come."

Doornbos defied the fact that he making his first start on an oval to qualify second, marking the 40th time in IndyCar Series history that team-mates will start 1-2. The Dutchman recorded a four-lap average of 210.665mph to slot in behind Rahal's 211.311 mph.

"Graham has more experience on the ovals, but I've been watching some videos, and I think, last year, the Ganassi boys ran one-two and pulled away helping each other," Doornbos noted, "I don't think it's a good thing if we're not helping each other because then I'll be sitting in an office in Chicago probably explaining myself.

"It's a team effort that we're here. They've worked very hard in the winter. I went out first then the engineers saw what they could do and improve and he grabbed the pole and now we're second. So I think it's been a great team result, and I think we need to thank the boys in the race tomorrow."

After being as close to the back last week, Danica Patrick qualified third fastest on the 1.5-mile oval, and will start on the second row next to reigning series champion Scott Dixon.

"I thought it was hard to get up to speed, and the #7 car was maybe the most loose it's ever been on an oval," Patrick reported, "It was a handful, but we ended up finding a pretty good speed and were able to put the Motorola car up front. I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow."

Dixon, meanwhile, admitted that fourth spot was a reasonable start to a weekend he knows must yield a better result than either St Pete or Long Beach.

"It's been frustrating what we've had these past two races and, before you know it, you've let too many points go," the Kiwi explained, "We're going to try to make the most of it, but I'm going to try to stay clear of the Australian out there, and hopefully they'll stop picking on me."

Dan Wheldon, the winner of the last two races at Kansas Speedway, will start ninth in his attempt to become the third driver to win three consecutive races at a track as he makes his 100th IndyCar start.

"We were incredibly loose in qualifying, but that's because we really decided to attack and have a run for the pole," the briton revealed, "The car will be strong for the race and, obviously, there are opportunities to overtake here.

"We decided we were going to be aggressive, and it caught us out a bit, but that's part of it. It wasn't the wind really, it was just a shame that we were too loose. We haven't had much running yet, but we'll work on things in the morning warm-up tomorrow and make sure we're strong for the race. It's one of those things, and it's certainly going to be an exciting race for fans of the IndyCar Series."

Marco Andretti, Mario Moraes, completed the top six, but conspicuous by their absence were both Long Beach winner Dario Franchitti and high-profile returnee Helio Castroneves, who were both penalised for driving under the white line during their qualifying attempts. Castroneves was penalised for the same reason in the 2008 season finale at Chicagoland and went on to win the race after starting 28th.

Also relegated was the #13 HVM car driven by EJ Viso which, having qualified in the midfield, failed the post-qualifying technical inspection and will have to start at the rear of the field.