-- Sam Hornish Jr. captured the pole position for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge on a record-setting afternoon at Richmond International Raceway, just edging his Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves.
Fan favorite Danica Patrick had a forgettable performance, posting the slowest time of the cars that completed a run. The rookie was almost 12 mph slower than Hornish and will start 21st in a 22-car field on one of the Indy Racing League's most demanding tracks.
IRL points leader Dan Wheldon will start seventh.
Hornish, driving a Dallara/Toyota, got around the 3/4-mile oval in 15.3197 seconds (176.244 mph). Castroneves, also in a Dallara/Toyota, qualified in 15.3586 seconds (175.797 mph) and will start next to Hornish on the front row.
The 12 fastest cars broke Castroneves's 2004 track record of 15.7708 seconds (171.202 mph).
"The car was set up really good," said Hornish, who scored his second pole this season and the seventh of his career. "We've made some big improvements in the last year and we seem to be going faster and faster wherever we go. We were pretty much run flat out all the way around."
Asked if the drivers might be pushing the cars too close to the edge, Hornish said: "Probably a little bit past."
"It's never too fast as long as you can keep control of it," he added. "It only becomes a problem when you can't. I hope I never find out if it's too fast to be going around here."
Patrick, driving a Honda-powered Panoz, posted a fast lap of 16.3927 seconds (164.707 mph). She will start on the last row alongside Tony Kanaan, who spun out on his run and collided with the outside concrete wall. He was uninjured.
"We've been struggling a little bit today as a team," Patrick said. "The guys had some changes to make to the car to make it go faster, but we just didn't have enough time before qualifying."