Franchitti Hoping To End 2013 Slide In Sonoma

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 25 2013

Dario Franchitti has had a tough year. He is off to good start to the weekend in Sonoma, however. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

Nine different drivers have won IZOD IndyCar Series races through the first 14 events of 2013. With the season rapidly winding down, four-time series champion Dario Franchitti is aiming to become the 10th today at Sonoma Raceway.

Franchitti will chase career victory No. 32 from pole position during the 85-lap GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma after earning his fourth Verizon P1 Award of the season on Saturday. The Scotsman turned a lap of 1 minute, 17.5271-seconds/110.748 mph during in the Firestone Fast Six session around the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road-course. It was Franchitti’s third pole at the track in California’s wine country.

Scott Dixon, Franchitti’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate in the No. 9 Dallara/Honda, turned in a lap in 1:17.7196-seconds/110.474 mph and will start on the front row for second time at Sonoma. Both TCGR drivers have won at Sonoma, and Ganassi drivers have won the season’s last four races.

“Obviously, both Target cars have been fast all weekend, and in the test as well,” said Franchitti, driver of the No. 10 Target Dallara/Honda. “We made a lot of changes, but seemed to go back where we started. Q1 we just did the one lap on the reds (soft compound Firestone Firehawk tires) and it was the quickest time, so they pulled me in and we felt that there was a lot of good still left in the tires. So we put those on for the second run and the car was good again, and I managed to make a couple of mistakes, actually, so I was surprised to be as close to the guys on the new reds.

“We had the new reds on obviously for the Firestone Fast Six, which is just as well because I did a good job at the 10 and 11 corners and royally screwed-up Turn 6 both laps, so luckily I had the advantage in the other corners to make it. So really happy; good to have 1-2 and all three of the Ganassi cars in the top six is pretty cool.”

Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball, driver of the No. 84 NovoLog FlexPen Dallara/Honda, qualified sixth in 1:18.2009-seconds/109.794 mph. It’s a career-best start for Kimball at Sonoma; his previous best was 21st in 2012. Kimball scored his first career series victory in the most recent event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on Aug. 4.

Dixon, a three-time winner this season, will start the race 31 points behind series championship front-runner Helio Castroneves, who qualified fifth at 1:18.1766-seconds/109.826 mph in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.

Reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, third in the standings, qualified fourth at 1:18.1314-seconds/109.892 mph in the No. 1 DHL Dallara/Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport. Will Power, who set the track record of 1:17.2709-seconds in earning the pole last August, will start third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet after a hot lap at 1:17.9735-seconds/110.114 mph.

The race will be televised live at 4 p.m. (EDT) today by NBC Sports Network and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211, www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 App for most smart phones and tablets.

Qualifying Saturday for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis/engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara/Honda, 01:17.5271 (110.748 mph)

2. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara/Honda, 01:17.7196 (110.474)

3. (12) Will Power, Dallara/Chevy, 01:17.9735 (110.114)

4. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara/Chevy, 01:18.1314 (109.892)

5. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara/Chevy, 01:18.1766 (109.828)

6. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara/Honda, 01:18.2009 (109.794)

7. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara/Honda, 01:18.2138 (109.776)

8. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara/Honda, 01:18.3051 (109.648)

9. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara/Chevy, 01:18.3135 (109.636)

10. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara/Honda, 01:18.3787 (109.545)

11. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara/Chevy, 01:18.6230 (109.205)

12. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara/Chevy, 01:26.7515 (98.972)

13. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara/Honda, 01:18.9164 (108.799)

14. (55) Tristan Vautier, Dallara/Honda, 01:18.3141 (109.635)

15. (5) EJ Viso, Dallara/Chevy, 01:18.9344 (108.774)

16. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara/Chevy, 01:18.3318 (109.611)

17. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara/Honda, 01:19.0094 (108.671)

18. (98) JR Hildebrand, Dallara/Honda, 01:18.7114 (109.082)

19. (16) James Jakes, Dallara/Honda, 01:19.1563 (108.469)

20. (6) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara/Chevy, 01:18.8967 (108.826)

21. (18) James Davison, Dallara/Honda, 01:19.5285 (107.961)

22. (4) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara/Chevy, 01:18.9743 (108.719)

23. (78) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara/Chevy, 01:19.5298 (107.960)

24. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara/Chevy, 01:19.2376 (108.358)

25. (97) Lucas Luhr, Dallara/Honda, 01:19.9805 (107.351)

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 25 2013
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