Ryan Briscoe to Start from Pole Position at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday

A year removed from battling Scott Dixon to the bitter (for Dixon) end in the IndyCar Series championship chase, Dario Franchitti says he'll be rooting for the Kiwi this time around at Chicagoland Speedway.

After all, that's what teammates do.

Dixon, who carries a 30-point lead over Helio Castroneves into the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 season finale, will wrap up his second series title by finishing eighth or higher Sept. 7. Castroneves, who's knocked 48 points off the deficit in the past two races, could secure his first title by winning the 200-lap race combined with Dixon finishing 11th or lower.

But that was made a whole lot more difficult after the No. 3 Team Penske car's four-lap qualifying run was disqualified by Indy Racing League chief steward Brian Barnhart for running below the white line "numerous times" on the 1.5-mile oval. Castroneves, the penultimate qualifier, had posted an average of 215.372 mph (1 minute, 41.6288 seconds) - good for fourth on the grid of 28 cars.

Dixon was bumped from earning a record-tying seventh PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award of the season by Castroneves' Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe, who recorded a four-lap average of 215.818 mph (1:41.4190) on the oval -- on which he was involved in a fiery crash in 2005.

Dixon did earn a front-row sweep on the season's six 1.5-mile tracks after a four-lap average of 215.553 mph (1:41.5435) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry. Danica Patrick (215.548 mph; 1:41.5435) in the No. 7 Motorola car will share Row 2 with Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan (215.368; 1:41.6307).

"I'm not going to say Helio (can't win it), but (Dixon) has a fairly useful lead," said Franchitti, who earlier in the week was confirmed as the driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car for 2009. "But we showed last year that it's not over until that last lap's done. Helio doesn't give up either. These tracks have a certain amount of unknown about them and it's going to be a hell of a race. I'm obviously pulling for Scott."

The championship scenarios were more cut and dry last September: It was winner take all. Franchitti, who started from the pole, did. He's watched a retooled Dixon from afar this season.

"I told (Tony Kanaan) earlier this season, sorry I p---ed off Scott at the end of last year that he came back fighting strong," Franchitti said. "He was a hell of a driver last year and he's even better this year, and I think the team has done a better job for him, too. He's making fewer mistakes, he's improved in certain areas where he maybe wasn't very strong before and he's a hell of an opponent. As his teammate, I'm going to find out some of his secrets, which is going to be pretty interesting."

Dixon has transformed the previous front-row starts on 1.5-mile ovals into three victories - half of his series record-tying mark.

"We didn't really change much for our qualifying setup," he said. "I felt pretty comfortable in race trim when we were in traffic. I don't think that's going to be much of a problem tomorrow. It's going to be strategy and staying out of trouble."

Briscoe secured his third pole start of the season and the team's sixth.

"What a way to try to finish up this season," he said. "It's nice to win a pole on an oval. The car was great right off the truck this weekend. We just have to try to keep Dixon behind us."

Marco Andretti, driving the No. 26 NYSE car for Andretti Green Racing (215.064; 1:41.7743), and Dan Wheldon (214.967; 1:41.8201) will be on Row 3. Wheldon will be competing in his final race in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car; he moves to Panther Racing. Tomas Scheckter notched his third top-10 start on an oval in the No. 12 Symantec Luczo Dragon Racing car and will share Row 4 with Vitor Meira in the No. 4 Delphi National Guard car -the one Wheldon will take over.

Driver/owner Marty Roth secured his third top-10 oval start in t

he No. 25 Roth Racing entry, while Will Power will start 10th in the No. 8 Aussie Vineyards - Team Australia car.

"We gave it our all," Roth said. "We have a lot of cars - the biggest field we've ever seen. We've got Men's Wearhouse on board with the car and I'm just glad to put it up there."
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