MOTEGI, Japan – Helio Castroneves took the pole position Saturday for the Indy Japan 300, turning a lap at 201.992 mph to lead a Team Penske sweep of the top three starting spots Sunday.
Ryan Briscoe was second, followed by series points leader Will Power and Dario Franchitti.
Castroneves, coming off a victory Sept. 4 at Kentucky Speedway, is a four-time pole-sitter and 2006 winner at Motegi.
"I'm very excited the three of us are starting in the top three spots," the Brazilian said. "Hopefully, tomorrow we'll finish like this. It was a great effort for the entire team. ... Today was a good day for us but the big points are tomorrow. We just need to execute. We don't need to panic."
Power, making his first start on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval, has a 17-point lead over defending series champion Franchitti with two races left and could wrap up the title with a victory Sunday.
"My goal was to come here and be ahead of the Ganassi guys, especially Dario," said Power, who leads the series with five victories this season — all on road and street courses. "I've just got to follow these guys tomorrow and keep Dario behind me."
Franchitti finished second last year.
"I think we have a better race car than qualifying car," Franchitti. "It's a great race track that really produces great racing."
Scott Dixon, the winner last year, was 11th, a spot ahead of Danica Patrick. In 2008, Danica Patrick became the first female winner in IndyCar history, winning on fuel strategy.
Former Formula One driver Takuma Sato recovered after spinning out in the morning practice session to qualify 10th, the highest of three Japanese drivers in the race.