Franchitti in pole position

Dario Franchitti will start today's Molson Indy Grand Prix of Vancouver in pole position, his second straight pole of the year.

Franchitti in pole position

The Scot was more than half a second quicker than his provisional pole lap from Friday as he set a new track record and headed the first 1-2 qualifying result for Team Green.

Franchitti and teammate Paul Tracy traded fast time back and forth throughout the final qualifying session with the Scotsman eventually beating the Canadian by 0.088 of a second.

"I've had some pretty good cars the last couple of years, and this one ranks right up there with them," Franchitti said. "My car is very, very good and I was pushing very hard. A couple of times I went over the edge, but I was able to get it back.

"I didn't get the best of my first set of tyres and Paul did," Dario added. "I went onto my second set of tyres very early and did two or three laps at 60.4 secs, but I couldn't go any quicker. I made a few mistakes, but then I got it right."

Near the end of his qualifying run Franchitti noticed a minor problem with his steering. "I don't think I hit anything but I noticed the car was pulling to the right," he said. "I had to put on a little left lock to keep it going straight, but it didn't really bother me."

Franchitti came into the pits with a little more than five minutes to go, his tyres by then past their best. He got out of his car and waited to see if anyone could beat him. "The hardest part of the whole session was waiting for Paul to see what he could do," Franchitti said. "You can't do anything in that situation. You just have to sit and wait."

Dario was delighted to be the first man to win the Greg Moore Pole Award. Moore and he were best of friends of course, and the new pole trophy will be presented annually to the polewinner in Vancouver.

"Greg's mum Donna came to me and said, 'I want you to win it,'," Franchitti said. "That put a little pressure on me of course! But I couldn't be more pleased to be the first guy to win it."

Franchitti has yet to lead a single lap this year but hopes to change that on Sunday. "I think I have a car that can win the race," he said. "I'm a little worried about the gearbox which put us out at Elkhart, but I'm just going out to score as many points as I can."

Dario also said he would be particularly pleased to win Sunday's race in his late friend Moore's hometown. "I'm pushing hard to win here," he remarked. "The significance is not lost on me..."

Tracy completed Team Green's first qualifying sweep and produced his best effort of the year in qualifying on a road our street circuit. It's also the best starting position he's ever enjoyed in Vancouver.

"My car felt really, really good," Tracy said. "On my second set of tyres I set my quick lap and what was really my warm-up lap. I looked at the dash and said, 'Oh, that's a good time.' I knew I could have gone quicker but three-quarters of the way through my next lap we got the red flag.

"I went back out after the red but I couldn't get the tyres up to optimum. I knew I had left something on the table. I knew where I could go quicker, but I get in another lap."

Tracy said he believes one of the most important parts of Sunday's race will be getting the most out of each new set of tyres as the warm up to working temperature. "Firestone has brought a particularly hard tyre compound to Vancouver and though they are very durable, it's proving difficult to get them up to operating temperature."

"The tyres are very consistent. You can go 30 laps on them and still run the same lap time. But at the same time you're going to have to be careful leaving the pits on cold tyres. You've got the get the most out of the tyres and get them up to temperature. You can gain a lot of time if you do it right."

Qualifying third and fourth were Penske team-mates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves. This meant Honda-powered cars swept the top four places. This is only the second time this has happened, the other occasion being Detroit last year when the Ganassi and Green teams combined for a Honda sweep. De Ferran and Castroneves have been very competitive in most recent races and the Penske cars look very good this weekend.

Also looking good is Juan Pablo Montoya who qualified fifth and believes he has a chance to win this weekend. "We're in good shape for tomorrow," Montoya said. "I've picked up some speed in parts of the track and it's coming together. The biggest challenge for tomorrow is to use the entire track from edge to edge and use it to your advantage."

The top 10 were completed by Christian Fittipaldi, Cristiano da Matta, Michael Andretti, Max Papis and Roberto Moreno. Championship leader Andretti will start from eighth.

"That is really all we were capable of," Andretti said. "To win the race, we will just have to run all day and stay out of trouble. We need to finish this race strong and collect some points for the championship."

For the full starting grid for round 15 of the CART FedEx World Series at Vancouver, click HERE.

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Franchitti takes overnight pole in Vancouver
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