Franchitti grabs Long Beach pole

Dario Franchitti will start from the point at Long Beach

Dario Franchitti will start from the point at Long Beach

Dario Franchitti has shown he still has plenty of fight by scoring pole for the Long Beach IndyCar Grand Prix.

After a frustrating start to the season, it was the Franchitti that people are more accustomed to as he set a new qualifying recorded to beat Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power.

Power will start off the front row for the first time since 2008. However, he did go on to win that year.

Starting his 250th IndyCar/Champcar, the Scotsman won his 30th career pole and his first since Toronto last July.

The smile is back for the Scotsman

The smile is back for the Scotsman

Franchitti is seeking to break a tie with Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy with his 32nd victory. His last win was the 2012 Indianapolis 500.

“I want to leave nothing on the table and give (race engineer) Chris (Simmons) every bit of feedback that I can,” Franchitti said.

“Those guys will take care of their end of things and I’ll take care of mine. That requires a lot of focus, and sometimes I’m not the funnest person to be around when that happens, but that’s what it takes.”

The Ganassi team could have had two cars in the top six had Scott Dixon not spun and stopped in the middle of Turn 1 late in the first qualifying phase.

The New Zealander was fourth-fastest in his group at that point, but his stranded car – joined moments later by that of Oriol Servia, who arrived in the corner to find the road completely blocked and deliberately drove into the barriers to avoid Dixon – triggered a red flag.

Under series rules, that cost Dixon his two best laps and consigned him to the back of the grid, and Servia, having been deemed equally responsible, was dealt the same punishment.

“My car was still running. I’m sure there were yellows waving,” Dixon said.

“My car was partially blocking the track, but I was pulling away. It is kind of in the middle. It’s a hard call. A tough one. I’m sure if Oriol had seen the yellows and slowed down, maybe he would have gotten around.

“We were solidly in the top six, and it sucks to go out that way. We will have to fight back from way back tomorrow.”

Dixon’s exit should have opened the door for Marco Andretti to advance to the next phase, but he was under scrutiny from race control as well for interfering with JR Hildebrand while the latter was on a fast lap. Andretti, too, was penalised, and Hildebrand progressed in his place.

Qualifying highlights

 

Top 3 qualifiers speak after the session

Official Qualification Results : Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach 

Position Driver Best Time Qualifying Round
1 Dario Franchitti 67.2379 Firestone Fast Six
2 Ryan Hunter-Reay 67.2934 Firestone Fast Six
3 Will Power 67.3987 Firestone Fast Six
4 Takuma Sato 67.4472 Firestone Fast Six
5 Mike Conway 67.5994 Firestone Fast Six
6 Helio Castroneves 67.9698 Firestone Fast Six
7 James Hinchcliffe 67.4358 Round 2 / Top 12
8 Tony Kanaan 67.5891 Round 2 / Top 12
9 Charlie Kimball 67.6306 Round 2 / Top 12
10 EJ Viso 67.7209 Round 2 / Top 12
11 Graham Rahal 67.7799 Round 2 / Top 12
12 JR Hildebrand 67.7902 Round 2 / Top 12
13 James Jakes 67.9185 Round 1 / Group 1
14 AJ Allmendinger 68.2001 Round 1 / Group 2
15 Sebastien Bourdais 67.9823 Round 1 / Group 1
16 Josef Newgarden 68.2579 Round 1 / Group 2
17 Simon Pagenaud 67.9979 Round 1 / Group 1
18 Oriol Servia 68.2889 Round 1 / Group 2
19 Tristan Vautier (R) 68.1512 Round 1 / Group 1
20 Simona de Silvestro 68.3173 Round 1 / Group 2
21 Sebastian Saavedra 68.4404 Round 1 / Group 1
22 Alex Tagliani 68.6431 Round 1 / Group 2
23 Ana Beatriz 69.9133 Round 1 / Group 1
24 Ed Carpenter 69.0318 Round 1 / Group 2
25 Justin Wilson No Time Round 1 / Group 1
26 Marco Andretti 69.4506 Round 1 / Group 2
27 Scott Dixon 69.6706 Round 1 / Group 2

 

 

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