Dario Franchitti storms to his second pole of 2011 at New Hampshire
|By Sam Tremayne||Saturday, August 13th 2011, 20:27 GMT|
Dario Franchitti stormed to his second pole position of the season with an emphatic performance in qualifying at New Hampshire.
The Scot took full advantage of his late starting berth, when track conditions were near their best, to set a two-lap average speed of 170.843mph and blitz the rest of the IndyCar field.
Having extended his championship lead over Will Power last time out at Mid-Ohio, the Scot was handed a double boost: collecting one point for pole and seeing Power, who was first out on a track which improved through the session, qualifying in 13th position.
After moving into ninth in the all-time IndyCar pole position list, Franchitti said: "That was about as good as we could do today. The car was obviously quick but I was hanging on at times - I wouldn't want to do that run again."
Oriol Servia will start alongside Franchitti on the front row, the Newman Haas driver having been on provisional pole for the majority of the session as he continued his strong form on ovals.
"We've been knocking on the door," Servia said, "but its so competitive, it takes a perfect weekend. Dario has been mega, but he can have a bad race - and if there's an opportunity, we'll get it."
Servia's team-mate James Hinchcliffe completed an excellent session for the team as he took a share of the second row, finishing fourth behind KV Racing's Tony Kanaan - who belied the poorer early conditions by clinching third.
In contrast to Kanaan, Power struggled for grip as he went out first in qualifying and fell down the order as the session progressed. He will start from 13th, alongside Dale Coyne's Alex Lloyd.
With Power sliding down the order, Penske's top representative was Ryan Briscoe in sixth place - the Australian sharing the third row with Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Helio Castroneves in the third Penske meanwhile finished ninth, behind Mid-Ohio racewinner Scott Dixon - who complained of too much downforce on his way to seventh - and KV's Takuma Sato.
Charlie Kimball rounded out the top 10, with Panther Racing's Jr Hildebrand and Andretti's Mike Conway completing the top 12.
The biggest loser in the hour-long session was Ganassi's Graham Rahal, who had been quick in practice but suffered a major moment through Turn 3 on his warm up lap.
"I was trying to get everything out of the car, and it snapped big," he explained. "I was lucky to save it, but I'm just disappointed and upset." The incident ruined Rahal's momentum and sent him to 23rd on the grid, the 22-year-old having been a pole contender before his run commenced.
Rahal Letterman's Pippa Mann missed the session and will also miss Sunday's race after being taken to hospital with an injured left foot.
Pos Driver Team Speed 1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 170.843 2. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas 169.831 3. Tony Kanaan KV 169.698 4. James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas 169.590 5. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 169.570 6. Ryan Briscoe Penske 169.451 7. Scott Dixon Ganassi 169.114 8. Takuma Sato KV 169.004 9. Helio Castroneves Penske 168.886 10. Charlie Kimball Ganassi 168.434 11. JR Hildebrand Panther 168.047 12. Mike Conway Andretti 167.852 13. Will Power Penske 167.011 14. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 166.877 15. Danica Patrick Andretti 166.834 16. Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt 166.809 17. EJ Viso KV 166.536 18. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold 166.381 19. Vitor Meira Foyt 166.253 20. James Jakes Dale Coyne 165.265 21. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 164.958 22. Marco Andretti Andretti 164.722 23. Graham Rahal Ganassi 163.816 24. Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 162.285 25. Ed Carpenter Sarah Fisher 161.734 26. Simona de Silvestro HVM 157.437