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Kanaan wins pole with rival’s help

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CICERO, Ill. — Tony Kanaan won the pole for the Target Grand Prix with an assist from rival Helio Castroneves.

The Brazilians will share the front row for the start of today's 225-lap race on Chicago Motor Speedway's 1.029-mile oval, but it will be Kanaan who will start from the outside spot for only the second time in his CART career.

Kanaan set the target with a lap of 160.052 mph and, after a 40-minute interruption of the qualifying session due to light rain, Castroneves threw a scare into his pal.

On his first of two green-flag laps, Castroneves hit 160.031. His lap time was just 0.003 seconds slower than Kanaan, and it seemed inevitable he would take his fourth pole of the season.

Instead, his Honda-powered Reynard slowed perceptibly in the middle of the fourth turn and wound up well off the pace.

"I had the pole on my warmup lap," Castroneves said. "Unfortunately, that doesn't count. I made a little mistake on my first green-flag lap and I thought, 'OK, I've got one more to go.' I was a 10th of a second quicker on my second lap when, all of a sudden, the car slowed and I thought, 'Oh my God, this can't be happening, we're running out of fuel.'

"All I had to do was make two more turns and finish and . . . I said, 'No! No! No!' It just went dead."

Kenny Brack and Dario Franchitti, 1-2 in the CART season points, had a shot after that, but Kanaan, also driving a Reynard-Honda, gave Morris Nunn Racing — in its second season — its first pole.

"The fuel must have evaporated when the car was standing there during the delay," Castroneves said, joking. "I can't believe my guys would do that."

Kanaan couldn't believe it either.

"Everybody was relaxed until they saw his warmup lap," Kanaan said. "I know what Helio can do, though. One of my guys had said, 'The only guy who can do it is Brack.' I knew better. After that warmup lap, I said, 'What did I tell you?' I got a little lucky today.

". . . We're only missing one thing now — a win — and I want to give it to him," added Kanaan.

Adrian Fernandez wound up third at 159.652 on the 25-car grid, followed by Memo Gidley at 159.528, Kanaan's teammate Alex Zanardi at 158.885, Jimmy Vasser at 158.871, Roberto Moreno at 158.803 and Brack at 158.715.

"That was all we had, so I've got to be happy with it, but I'll tell you that it wasn't what we were looking for," said Brack, who has failed to score a point in the last two races but holds a three-point lead over Franchitti heading into today's race.

"I don't know what to expect tomorrow, but I think it's going to be difficult to pass on this track," he said Saturday.

Franchitti, who qualified 10th at 158.342, didn't appear too concerned with his starting position.

"I think we've got a better race car than we have a qualifying car, and I'm actually quite happy," he said.

Far less happy were last year's race and pole winners, Cristiano da Matta and Max Papis, who qualified 20th and 25th, respectively.

"I started fifth last year and, obviously, you have to work very hard for every single pass here," da Matta said. "I'm not even thinking about winning this race at this point."