Los Angeles (AFP) - Mikhail Aleshin finished first in qualifying on Saturday for the ABC Supply 500 race, becoming the first Russian to win a pole position in IndyCar Series history.
The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver averaged 220.44 mph over two laps at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania to collect his first pole in his 31st career IndyCar start.
Aleshin, of Moscow, will lead the field to the green flag for the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile oval in what will be the 13th race to be completed on the 16-race schedule.
"It's obviously very difficult to explain what I feel now," said the 29-year-old driver. "It's a lot of emotions definitely. It's my first pole in IndyCar and I am so happy to bring the number seven SMP Racing car up there.
"The team did an amazing job. We had a couple of moments in turn one, but I decided to keep it flat and see what would happen. (Hitting) the wall didn't happen, but pole position happened. Amazing."
American Josef Newgarden qualified second at 220.19 mph. Newgarden is fourth in the overall points standings.
Takuma Sato of Japan will start third while Brazil's Helio Castroneves will start next to Sato in row two after logging two laps at an average of 219.78 mph.
Row three will consist of Colombia's Carloz Munoz and Canada's James Hinchcliffe, who is Aleshin's teammate.