Franchitti Fastest At Iowa

| , RacinToday.com Friday, June 22 2012

Dario Franchitti survived the heat-based qualifying system at Iowa on Friday and will start the race on the pole. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)


Dario Franchitti, who qualified for the Fast Eight heat race during the final seconds of practice, passed Marco Andretti on Lap 8 of 30 to claim pole position for Saturday night’s IZOD IndyCar Series Iowa Corn Indy 250.

Franchitti’s pole on the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway oval in Newton followed his P1 effort at The Milwaukee Mile last weekend. Additionally, the pole was the 28th of Franchitti’s Indy-car career, allowing the four-time/reigning series champion to pass Al Unser for seventh on the all-time list.

“We were struggling a little bit this morning with the Target car in race trim but we made it much better in the second session of practice,” said Franchitti, driver of the No. 10 Dallara/Honda. “But the heat (race) the car stuck and we were able to put the car around the outside of Marco, kind of like I watched T.K. (Tony Kanaan) do in the heat race before me. I got out in front and the car felt good _ no troubles for the rest of the run with no real fall-off until the end of the race.

“Physically it is a tough track so it will be an interesting race for us. But overall a very good day for the Target boys. Good to be starting up front here for sure.”

Results of the second practice session determined fields for the 30-lap qualifying races. The top eight comprised Race 3, while Race 1 consisted of even-numbered positions in practice to determine the even-numbered spots in the starting lineup starting from 10th down. Race 3 followed the same format for odd-numbered cars.

Franchitti led Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Chevrolet, to the start-finish line by 1.4671-seconds. It will be the second front-row start of the season and fourth at Iowa Speedway for Castroneves, who won the 2012 season-opener at St. Petersburg, Fla.

“Honestly, the practice, it was a little bit more risky than actually the race,” Castroneves said, “because in the heat race, you really are taking chances and not knowing what other guys are doing. But I think if we had to do that again we should go qualifying one lap or two laps, whatever, to determine where you’re going to go for the heats, instead of just going 30 or 45 minutes with everybody out there. So I would have probably suggested (that change), but other than that it was OK.

“Certainly, 30 laps I believe was enough, but it was getting tough out there. I was able to make a pass on Marco, but then there wasn’t enough time to catch Dario, there was not that many cars out there so it was difficult to catch traffic and things like that. For the first time, it was positive in terms of a big lead. Certainly these are the things that we’ve got to do for the future. In the end of the day I’m happy that we tried (heats) and we will keep discussing and brainstorming all the possibilities so in the future, maybe we’ll try different ovals, but for sure here it seemed different. I’m starting on the front row, and that’s what I care about right now.”

Andretti, who topped the time chart in the two practice sessions and turned-in his best qualifying effort of the season, will start alongside Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe from Row 2.

“We really wanted to get the pole, but we were a little off on our gearing for the car,” said Andretti, driver of the No. 26 Team RC Cola Dallara/Chevrolet. “We can work on that (Saturday) _ that’s really the race that counts. We were pretty good, but we need to give ourselves a little more grip and we can be right there. The car was fast all day, so we just need to tune on it a little bit to get back out front when it really means something. We can win it from there.”

Andretti scored his first series oval-track victory in this event last summer, beating Kanaan by 0.7932-seconds in a race dominated by Franchitti with 172 laps-led.

Team Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and Will Power, the series point-leader, will start in Row 3. Power (274 points) has a 31-point lead over Hinchcliffe (243) after his second-place finish to Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport last weekend at West Allis, Wis.

Hunter-Reay will start in Row 4 alongside two-time series champion Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third in the driver standings with 239 points, 35 behind Power.

Former series champion Kanaan of KV Racing Technology and Graham Rahal of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing were the other heat race winners to qualify ninth and 10th, respectively. However, they will incur 10-grid spot penalties for unapproved engine changes. Alex Tagliani of Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian and Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will take their spots in Row 5.

NBC Sports Network will air expanded coverage of the Iowa Corn Indy 250 beginning Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) with the latest episode of the all-access series INDYCAR 36. This week’s spotlight is on Charlie Kimball of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing.

Following INDYCAR 36, the network will televise the three heat races that determined the starting lineup from 8-9 p.m. (EDT), followed by live flag-to-flag coverage of the 250-lap/187.5-mile race at 9 p.m. The network’s coverage of the Firestone Indy Lights Sukup 100, scheduled for 6:40 p.m., immediately will follow the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at approximately midnight (EDT).

Also on Friday, Tristan Vautier’s first qualifying lap of 160.066 mph paved the way to a two-lap average of 159.973 mph (40.2368-seconds) and pole position for Saturday evening’s 115-lap/100-mile Sukup 100. Vautier, driver of the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports with Curb Agajanian car, earned his third pole of the season and second in a row. He went on to win last weekend’s race at The Milwaukee Mile.

Esteban Guerrieri will start on the front row for the third time this season after posting a qualifying speed of 159.597 mph (40.3316-seconds). He started from pole in the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights race at Iowa Speedway. Victor Carbone, the final qualifier, jumped to third in the No. 3 Mav TV/Nevoni/SSM with Curb Agajanian car to provide the sixth 1-2-3 starting lineup for the team in Firestone Indy Lights. Sebastian Saavedra will join Carbone in Row 2 in the No. 27 Team AFS car.

Results Friday of the Iowa Corn Indy 250 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 0.894 mile Iowa Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

Heat #1

1. (1) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

2. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

3. (4) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

4. (3) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

5. (5) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

6. (6) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

7. (7) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

8. (8) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

Race Statistics

Winners average speed: 178.587

Time of Race: 00:09:00.6441

Margin of victory: 6.2134

Cautions: 0

Lead changes: 0

Lap Leaders:

Rahal 1 – 30

Heat #2

1. (4) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

2. (2) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

3. (1) Rubens Barrichello, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

4. (3) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

5. (6) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

6. (8) Katherine Legge, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

7. (5) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

8. (9) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Lotus, 29, Running

9. (7) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 29, Running

Race Statistics

Winners average speed: 178.968

Time of Race: 00:08:59.4932

Margin of victory: 3.1255

Cautions: 0

Lead changes: 2

Lap Leaders:

Barrichello 1 – 5

Tagliani 6 – 19

Kanaan 20 – 30

Heat #3

1. (2) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

3. (1) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

4. (6) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

5. (5) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

6. (4) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

7. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 30, Running

8. (8) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 30, Running

Race Statistics

Winners average speed: 173.368

Time of Race: 00:09:16.9203

Margin of victory: 1.4671

Cautions: 0

Lead changes: 1

Lap Leaders:

Andretti 1 – 7

Franchitti 8 – 30

| , RacinToday.com Friday, June 22 2012
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