After topping both practice sessions on Friday, Chip Ganassi Racing's Tony Kanaan looked on course to pick up pole position for this weekend's Verizon IndyCar Series event at Iowa Speedway.

Kanaan was the 13th driver to go out on the seven-eighths of a mile oval on a blisteringly hot Saturday afternoon and he duly went to the top of the timing screens with a two-lap average speed of 183.125mph and an aggregate time of 35.1497s.

But moments later, fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves - the 18th of the 24 drivers vying to set a time - was able to go 0.1485s faster with an average speed clocking in at 183.480mph to pip Kanaan for pole position. However both men were nonetheless someway off Scott Dixon's 2014 pole-winning pace of 186.256mph.

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CLICK: Full qualifying results for the Iowa Corn 300

It's a terrific return to form for Castroneves, who had to start from the back of the grid last weekend at Milwaukee after a mix-up meant that the Penske #3 wasn't in line for technical inspection in time for qualifying, meaning that he was excluded from making a timed lap.

"The Hitachi car was certainly strong," said Castroneves after picking up his 44th carer pole in the series. "We proved [at Milwaukee] that when we have a good car we can come from the back to the front. Now, hopefully, we stay in front and never look back!"

Despite missing out on picking up the Verizon P1 Award, Kanaan didn't seem too worried not to be starting from pole position with regards to his hopes for success in the race itself later in the evening.

"I think this year with the new aero kits, more downforce, so on, I think it's going to be the most physical race we had on an oval," he said. "I don't remember using this much effort in a long time, so it's going to be hard.

"Things happen very fast here, so the race is never boring," he added. "It goes really quick, not just because of the shortness of the track, but the nature of the race."

Immediately behind Castroneves and Kanaan on the front row is another Penske/Ganassi mix for row two, with championship points leader Juan Pablo Montoya starting from third place alongside last year's pole winner Scott Dixon.

It's an all-Penske look for the third row however, with Simon Pagenaud starting alongside reigning series champion Will Power. Miwaukee pole winner Josef Newgarden will start from the seventh place in the CFH Racing #67 with Andretti Autosports' Marco Andretti the highest placed Honda on the grid in eighth place.

Andretti's team mate and defending race champion Ryan Hunter-Reay starts from ninth place with Ganassi rookie Sage Karam rounding out the top ten.

In total, 15 of the drivers were within a second of Castroneves' pole time. Just missing out on that threshold was the remaining Ganassi car of Charlie Kimball in 16th.

It wasn't a particularly good session for the British contingent, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' James Jakes in 14th place, Andretti Autosport's Justin Wilson in 18th and AJ Foy Racing's Jack Hawksworth in 21st. Pippa Mann was able to lift herself off the back row of the grid by qualifying in 22nd place in her last scheduled start of the season with Dale Coyne Racing.

Mann was three hundredths of a second faster than SPM's Ryan Briscoe, who continues to sit in for the injured James Hinchcliffe in the #5 car.

But last on the grid for the green flag will be last week's race winner, KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais, after the Frenchman made contact with the wall on the exit of turn 2 during his first lap, causing a brief hiatus to proceedings while track workers cleaned up the debris.

"There was enough grip on the new tires to slow the motion of going rearwards, but there was no coming back from that one," Bourdais explained. "Straight away on the out lap I saw I was loose, so I went max full stiff on the front bar and just went to the right on the weight jacker as much as I could.

"I thought it would be all right, but it wasn't," he sighed. "It just stepped out on the bump [through turns 1 and 2] and never came back. I'm very lucky that I hit [the SAFER barrier] square. Just damaged the rear and nothing else, but that's not what we wanted to do, for sure."

The Iowa Corn 300 is scheduled to get underway later tonight, starting just before dusk at 7.50pm (1.50am BST).

See full qualifying results for the Iowa Corn 300