Franchitti qualifies sixth for ARCA race

Dario Franchitti quickly got up to speed for his stock car debut to qualify sixth for the ARCA RE/MAX 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, just edging fellow rookie Scott Speed who was seventh

Franchitti qualifies sixth for ARCA race

Franchitti was among the first drivers to qualify and provisionally sat on pole, but the improving track conditions as the sun started setting meant he dropped down to finish sixth fastest on his first day at the wheel of a stock car.

"Today was a big learning day," Franchitti said. "Just getting in the car for the first time. Seeing how the car handles, getting used to the seat position, the steering is different, what the switches do. All those things. Even finding my way from pit lane back to the truck."

Franchitti had just a one and a half hour practice session to get to grips with his new surroundings, where he finished 20th among 57 drivers. He then improved nearly a tenth of a second in his qualifying effort to set a time of 52.117 seconds at an average speed of 183.740 mph.

New teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who did the same transition as Franchitti a year ago but with some additional practice, was on hand to help the Scot. He will also be there on Friday morning to give advice when the IRL Champion runs in a drafting practice before his first race.

"Juan has been great," Franchitti added. "He called early this morning. He was there before practice, along with Chip. He's been really helpful."

"Tomorrow is going to be another big learning day. Getting in the draft for the first time and then racing in the afternoon. It's like being back at school."

Former Formula One driver Scott Speed also did a good job in his first stock car qualifying session, putting his Red Bull Toyota seventh on the grid, just 74 thousandths of a second slower then Franchitti.

"I learned a lot over the last (few) days on how to get the most out of the car," Speed said. "There's not really much you can do as a driver to get it around for one lap. Hats off to the team."

Franchitti's Ganassi teammate, 18-year-old Bryan Clauson, claimed his maiden ARCA pole position ahead of the fastest Toyota, driven by Michael Annett.

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