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INDYCAR NEWS 

Franchitti beats Dixon to Miami pole

Dario Franchitti takes Homestead poleDario Franchitti moved one point closer to Scott Dixon in the IndyCar championship by beating his Ganassi team-mate to pole position at Homestead.

Ryan Briscoe, who is third in the standings and eight points behind series leader Dixon coming into tomorrow's deciding race, will start on the inside of row two, as the three championship contenders dominated the session.

Franchitti was concerned that his early qualifying draw would harm his chances if the sweltering temperatures cooled and as the rubber from the preceding Grand-Am session was worn away.

But in the event his four-lap average of 212.696mph proved unbeatable, and the bonus point Franchitti collected for pole means he will start the race just four points adrift of Dixon.

Franchitti had a comfortable quarter of a second margin over his closely-matched main rivals around the four laps. A mid-run twitch cost practice pace-setter Dixon momentum, while Briscoe came within 0.010s of getting between the Ganassi cars but was left stunned by Franchitti's qualifying pace.

Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter emerged as the title trio's main challenger. The American had been a top ten contender in practice and raised his game further in qualifying trim - coming close to Dixon and Briscoe's pace early in his qualifying run. Carpenter's fourth place equals his career best at Michigan three years ago.

The Newman/Haas/Lanigan cars completed the top six - Alex Lloyd brilliantly out-qualifying his team-mate Graham Rahal at the first attempt as the Briton announced his return to the series with an outstanding fifth on the grid.

Andretti Green had languished in the midfield in practice, but the drivers said they had been focusing on a race set-up. There was little wrong with Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti's qualifying settings either, as they qualified seventh and eighth, ahead of rookie points leader Raphael Matos (Luczo Dragon).

Mario Moraes (KV) was disappointed to fall back to 10th in qualifying after being a top five threat in practice, while his compatriot Helio Castroneves just missed out on the top ten in the spare Penske Dallara-Honda hurriedly prepared following his big crash at the end of the final practice session.

Pos  Driver             Team                 Speed
 1.  Dario Franchitti   Ganassi              212.696
 2.  Scott Dixon        Ganassi              212.160
 3.  Ryan Briscoe       Penske               212.137
 4.  Ed Carpenter       Vision               211.769
 5.  Alex Lloyd         Newman/Haas/Lanigan  211.702
 6.  Graham Rahal       Newman/Haas/Lanigan  211.653
 7.  Danica Patrick     Andretti Green       211.258
 8.  Marco Andretti     Andretti Green       210.884
 9.  Raphael Matos      Luczo Dragon         210.834
10.  Mario Moraes       KV                   210.819
11.  Helio Castroneves  Penske               210.658
12.  Tomas Scheckter    Dreyer & Reinbold    210.453
13.  Justin Wilson      Coyne                210.420
14.  Dan Wheldon        Panther              210.407
15.  Tony Kanaan        Andretti Green       210.315
16.  Sarah Fisher       Fisher               210.174
17.  Milka Duno         Dreyer & Reinbold    210.020
18.  EJ Viso            HVM                  209.773
19.  Hideki Mutoh       Andretti Green       209.623
20.  Mike Conway        Dreyer & Reinbold    208.971
21.  Ryan Hunter-Reay   Foyt                 208.536
22.  Robert Doornbos    HVM                  207.352
23.  Jaques Lazier      3G                   205.606

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