Dario Franchitti's run of short track form continued into Richmond as, having won six days earlier at Iowa Speedway, the Scot claimed the PEAK Performance Pole Award for Saturday night's SunTrust indy Challenge.

Driving the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, Franchitti recorded a four-lap average of 167.315mph around the 0.75-mile oval, to reprise his 2007 championship year pole that came courtesy of driver points after qualifying was rained out. That weekend, the Scot led 262 laps and won the SunTrust Indy Challenge....

"I enjoy the short tracks," the Scot smiled, "We started on pole here in '07, but that was based on points, so I actually had to earn it today. The Target car was fast, and 'Dixie' and I are both starting up front, so it's a good day for Team Target.

"I enjoy the technique of racing on short ovals, the way you have to set the car up. Things come at you quick here. It's a really fun discipline of our series and I really enjoy it."

Ganassi team-mate Scott 'Dixie' Dixon will join Franchitti on the front row - second being, somewhat incredibly, the Kiwi's highest start of the season - as the Target team turned the tables on biggest rival Penske.

"After some changes in practice, for a couple of laps we were just trying to feel the car out, but it was really good and should have been closer to pole - if not on pole," Dixon admitted, "I kind of let that down. We have a good car for the race and it's fantastic with two cars on the front row, so hopefully we can keep it that way at the end."

Having been handed the front of the grid at Iowa by the appearance of 'weepers', Penske team-mates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe will share row two in Richmond.

"The #3 car was pretty good in practice this morning, especially in turns one and two, but unfortunately on my third qualifying lap, I had a huge moment," Castroneves reported, "I'll tell you, it may not look that bad on TV but, when you're in the car, it's pretty intense. This place is so fast, I am not sure how I was able to hold it together - I was just trying to finish the run safely, so I definitely lost some speed."

Team-mate Briscoe's fourth spot ended a run of four straight front row starts, but the Aussie remains confident for race day.

"I was really happy with my qualifying run today - we weren't too confident with the car in practice, but I was pleasantly surprised with the progress we made," he claimed, "I have to say, my engineers did a great job, and I think we really improved the car a lot between practice and qualifying. It doesn't really matter where you start here as long as you're in the top six or eight, so I think we should be in fine shape for tomorrow."

Graham Rahal will start fifth, alongside leading rookie Raphael Matos, but one of the other stories of qualifying was the presence of EJ Viso who, like Matos, recorded his best start on an oval. After a season of monumental bad luck, the Venezuelan will start seventh for HVM Racing, alongside Hideki Mutoh.

"I think we did a good job," Viso noted, "This little achievement shows that testing is very important and, obviously, the development we did here a couple of weeks ago is paying off right now. It's also important to qualify close to the front at this track, being one of the most difficult tracks to overtake on - and being such a criminal track last year in the race. Less than ten cars finished, and that means that were many accidents so, obviously, you want to be as close to the front as possible to have fewer risks in front of you."

While Viso was higher up than expected, AGR veterans Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan will roll off from 16th and 17th respectively.

Mario Moraes was uninjured in the only accident of the day, when he spun his #5 KV Racing Technology car off turn four in final practice.

Firestone has a new tyre specification for Richmond, which was developed from a tyre test at the track last autimn. The Firehawk spec features a new carcass construction designed to reduce understeer over the course of a long run, and is paired with new compound formulas for all four tyre positions.