Sharp wins first pole for Rahal Letterman Racing since 2005

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Scott Sharp pulled off the biggest surprise of the IndyCar Series season Friday night by winning the pole for Saturday's Bombardier Learjet 550 at Texas Motor Speedway.

"Never thought we would run that quick," Sharp said. "We've been a little behind this year, which is true for anyone who isn't on the top three teams."

Every pole and every victory this season had gone to a driver from those teams -- Penske Racing, Target Ganassi Racing and Andretti Green Racing.

Sharp, a two-time winner at TMS, turned a lap at 215.260 mph. Friday was the first pole for Sharp since August 12, 2001 and the first pole for Rahal Letterman Racing since the 2005 season when Danica Patrick won three poles in her rookie season.

Patrick will start on the outside of Row 3 in her Andretti Green Racing Honda, two rows ahead of her new rival, Dan Wheldon. He qualified 10th, his worst starting spot on an oval track since he was 11th on the grid at Milwaukee last year.

Scott Dixon posted the second fastest lap in the final practice session Friday, but a few laps later he crashed exiting Turn 2. The car shot up the track and slammed into the wall backwards, ripping off the rear wing.

"It felt like something broke first," Dixon said.

He went to a back-up car before in qualifying and turned a lap quick enough to start on the inside of Row 4.

Sam Hornish Jr. joins Sharp on the front row. Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti starts on Row 2 with Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan, who won last week at Milwaukee.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.