May 31, 2013
DETROIT -- Dario Franchitti has tools in the cockpit to control numerous things on the racetrack. But the four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion doesn't control management of the Honda engine in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
Franchitti earned his 31st Indy car pole, setting the pace in the Firestone Fast Six qualifying for the first race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans with a lap of 1 minute, 19.3311 seconds on the 2.346-mile, 13-turn street circuit.
He'll receive the point and cash prize for earning the Verizon P1 Award in the 10-minute session, but he'll start 11th for the 70-lap race June 1 (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC) because of a 10-grid spot penalty for an unapproved engine change at Indianapolis.
Click it: Race 1 qualification results || Race 1 starting lineup, tire designation
"I think I was a longshot to get through Q1; I did four laps in practice this morning," said Franchitti, whose second earned pole of the season tied Sebastien Bourdais for seventh all time; they're one behind Michael Andretti. "It was interesting obviously with the rain in the first session, getting through in that, and then the drying track and fully drive in the end, so we had all the conditions there.
"I have to thank the engineering group. We had a really tough Indianapolis and to back with a pole is great, obviously with a 10-spot grid penalty. I’ll do the best from where we start."
It's the first earned pole in seven starts at Belle Isle for Franchitti, who won the CART race in 1999 and finished second to teammate Scott Dixon in the IZOD IndyCar Series race last June.
E.J. Viso was second (1:19.5572) in the No. 5 Team Venezuela/PDVSA/CITGO car for Andretti Autosport to tie his best qualifying effort in Brazil in May. Joining him on the front row will be Mike Conway, driving the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing car in the two races this weekend. Conway has qualified for the Firestone Fast Six in both of his events this season.
"Very excited. I think it has given me some good chances to stay in the front and be sure I'm going to have a competitive car," Viso said. "We have proven that so far. And I'm really looking forward to it."
James Jakes qualified a series-best fourth (previous high was eighth at Motegi in 2011) in the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and he'll will share Row 2 with reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 1 DHL car for Andretti Autosport.
"I've been pretty happy with the pace all weekend, especially in practice this morning," Jakes said. "The balance with the reds changed quite a bit, so we still have quite a bit of work to do. With the weather forecast for (June 1), starting as high up as you can is going to be key, and we got a great position."
Alex Tagliani, who led the morning practice session, qualified a season-high sixth in the No. 98 Barracuda Racing car. Rookie Tristan Vautier moves up with the Franchitti penalty to Row 3 in the No. 55 Lucas Oil/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car.
"It's really nice to be back in the front," said Tagliani, who started and finished third at Belle Isle in 2010. "We didn't know it yet, but the car was really fast so we were really happy about that. Qualifying car was really good, too. We made some changes and at the end we knew we had a chance at the pole and we kind of messed up the car a bit. So that was unfortunate because the car was really fast, so hopefully we can make it up in the race."
Also incurring 10-grid spot penalties for Race 1 are Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal because of unapproved engine changes at Indianapolis.
Qualifications for the second race (3:30 p.m. ET June 2 on ABC) will be held six hours before the start of Race 1. All cars will participate in one of two groups for 12 minutes each, with five minutes of guaranteed green-flag time. Group 1 will consist of odd-numbered positions on the practice time sheet, while even-numbered positions will comprise Group 2. Race 2 qualifying groups
• The pole position will be award to the best overall lap time in the qualifying sessions.
• The remainder of the cars in the pole sitter’s group will occupy the odd-numbered starting grid positions, starting with third.
• Cars in the other group will occupy the even-numbered starting grid positions, starting with second.
• One point will be awarded to the driver and entrant with the quickest time in Group 1 and Group 2.
A driver who sweeps the weekend races will receive the $50,000 SONAX Perfect Finish Award. If no one wins both races at Belle Isle, the prize fund carries over to Toronto in mid-July ($100,000). If no one wins both of those races, the Houston doubleheader in early October will be worth $150,000.