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INDYCAR NEWS 

Dario Franchitti storms to his second pole of 2011 at New Hampshire

Dario FranchittiDario 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

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