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.