KANSAS CITY, Kansas -- Working through the pack has never been a problem for Graham Rahal. If he keeps his car running and avoids contact, chances are he's going to move up.
Qualifying? That's been a little tougher. Well, at least until this year.
Rahal earned his second pole in three races at Kansas Speedway yesterday and will be joined on the front row by surprising teammate Robert Doornbos and Danica Patrick for today's Road Runner Turbo Indy 300. (TSN, TSN HD, rebroadcast, 1:30 a.m. Monday.)
"Qualifying has always been our issue and I think a lot of people kind of expected it would be our issue here again," Rahal said. "Certainly, it hasn't been."
DANICA'S COMFORT ZONE: Andretti Green Racing had all kinds of trouble qualifying on the road courses of the first two races of the IndyCar season. Except for one good run by Tony Kanaan, middle of the pack was the best the team's four drivers could do.
A trip to Kansas for the first oval race of the season has changed their luck. AGR had three drivers in the top eight for today's race, led by Danica Patrick's third-best qualifying run on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway.
Patrick overcame handling issues to get her best starting position since Chicago last September. Marco Andretti, after finishing no better than 18th the first two races, was a row back in fifth. Kanaan was his usual steady self, qualifying eighth, and Hideki Mutoh wasn't far from the top 10, finishing 13th.
"Road courses are completely different than qualifying for ovals," Patrick said after averaging just over 210 m.p.h. on four laps. "We're back in our comfort zone."
WEATHER OR NOT: After a day of strong wind that hampered practice and qualifying, a line of strong line of thunderstorms led to the postponement of the NASCAR truck race Saturday evening after 52 laps.
About 30 minutes later, tornado sirens went off at the track, sending the remaining fans for cover under the concourses. Truck driver Ricky Carmichael, a former motocross star, and crew members from many of the truck teams gathered in the media workroom to watch the local TV stations, which showed images of a twister on the ground southwest of the track.
The tornado dissipated about 20 minutes later and the storm cell passed the speedway to the north.
But the bad weather may not be over.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a 60% chance of rain early Sunday, with a 90% chance of strong storms late in the day. The IRL race starts at 4 p.m. local time.
"The conditions are tough, but we're all dealing with the same thing," pole-sitter Graham Rahal said. "We'll just have to wait to see what happens and deal with it."
NOTE: Sarah Fisher and Milka Dunno, both making their 2009 debuts, qualified 10th and 11th, respectively.
- The Associated Press
FOREST 10TH IN VIRGINIA
Edmonton's Mike Forest and teammate Lawsen Aschenbach finished 10th of 18 in the GT class on the road course in Alton, Va., yesterday, Round 2 of the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car season.
Forest is driving the No. 32 Miracle Sealants Pontiac for PR1 Motorpsorts, the same team he raced for in the Atlantic Series championship.
The No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports entry (driven by Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis) was the "lucky" 7, beating the No. 07 Banner Racing car (Kelly Collins, Paul Edwards) by .107 seconds.
In the Daytona Prototype class, Alex Gurney (99 Bob Stallings Racing) took the lead on a four-wide pass on lap 65, and then held off Vancouver driver Michael Valiante (6 Bob Shanks) to take Round 2.
The series' next stop is next weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park (SPEED, May 3, 11 a.m.).