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Franchitti takes pole for Sao Paulo race

Dario Franchitti, Ganassi, Sao Paulo 2010Dario Franchitti will begin the defence of his IndyCar Series title from the perfect position after taking pole for the opening round of the 2010 championship on the Sao Paulo street circuit.

The Scot ended the Firestone Fast Six shoot-out relatively unchallenged after an early battle for the top spot with Penske's Will Power, and took the pole for Ganassi Racing with a 1m27.734s lap.

Power had set the pace in the top 12 run-off but couldn't match his mid-1m27s time when it counted, fading to fifth with a lap of 1m28.0156s in the final session.

The surprise of qualifying was Alex Tagliani. Making his debut for his co-owned FAZZT team, the Canadian was second fastest with a stunning lap on a set of red-walled soft Bridgestones late on.

Tagliani's time was good enough to withstand a late-flier from Justin Wilson's Dreyer & Reinbold third-placed machine, the Briton bumping Ryan Hunter-Reay down to fourth for Andretti Autosport with a lurid final lap.

Hunter-Reay's team-mate Tony Kanaan will join Power on the third row.

Former champion Scott Dixon was one of several drivers to miss out on a shot at the top-six session after Simona de Silvestro crashed at the end of the top 12 shoot-out.

That session proved to be a bit of a lottery as the track, which underwent diamond-grinding work overnight to improve the grip levels and bumps, rapidly improved. Lap-by-lap, it seemed, everybody produced a faster time.

So it was unfortunate for the likes of Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and former Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato, who all missed the opportunity of one final crack at the top six.

De Silvestro, who, other than the accident has had an impressive debut IndyCar weekend, will line up 11th ahead of Raphael Matos, who bumped Danica Patrick out of the top 12 run-off.

Another driver unlucky not to make it through was Mike Conway. The Briton clearly had the pace to reach the final stages, but a late accident in the first session, brought out a full-course yellow and wiped his time - rendering him 19th on the grid.

Pos  Driver               Team                    Time
 1.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi                 1m27.7354s
 2.  Alex Tagliani        Fazzt                   1m27.7676s
 3.  Justin Wilson        Dreyer & Reinbold       1m27.8183s
 4.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti                1m27.8756s
 5.  Will Power           Penske                  1m28.0156s
 6.  Tony Kanaan          Andretti                1m28.6946s
 7.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi                 1m28.0104s
 8.  Ryan Briscoe         Penske                  1m28.1176s
 9.  Helio Castroneves    Penske                  1m28.1200s
10.  Takuma Sato          KV                      1m28.2679s
11.  Simona de Silvestro  HVM                     1m28.8691s
12.  Raphael Matos        Luczo Dragon/de Ferran  1m29.0994s
13.  Danica Patrick       Andretti                1m30.1253s
14.  Hideki Mutoh         Newman/Haas/Lanigan     1m28.4659s
15.  Alex Lloyd           Dale Coyne              1m30.4641s
16.  Vitor Meira          Foyt                    1m29.1131s
17.  EJ Viso              KV                      1m30.4947s
18.  Dan Wheldon          Panther                 1m29.1960s
19.  Mike Conway          Dreyer & Reinbold       1m33.7584s
20.  Mario Romancini      Conquest                1m30.8838s
21.  Marco Andretti       Andretti                1m39.6813s
22.  Ana Beatriz          Dreyer & Reinbold       1m32.4161s
23.  Mario Moraes         KV                      no time
24.  Milka Duno           Dale Coyne              1m36.0065s
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