Toronto: Franchitti nabs pole
Wilson set a new track record for IndyCar in Q2 qualifying, but was unable to equal that time in Q3. It still is 2 seconds slower than the record set by Gil de Ferran in a CART Champ Car, so let no one think for a minute it is as good as it was, but it certainly is better than the old IndyCar from the IRL era.
Sebastien Bourdais (Chevy) was 4th four for Jay Penske followed by Scott Dixon and Alex Tagliani.
"It's so close out there, the difference between transferring and getting the pole to not even getting through the first round takes not even a mistake - just leaving a little bit on the table," said Franchitti.
"The Target car has been strong all weekend, and on the alternate tires, it was just building up the rhythm and the courage to go that late in the corners and use the grip of the Firestone reds. That was the toughest part - getting into the rhythm of it. To finish where we start, we're going to need a fast car, and we have that.
"We need a car that works well on the Firestone alternates and the primaries, and I feel as though we have that. And then you just deal with the cards you're dealt during the race. I can't think of one race this year where we haven't had some kind of incident. The Firestones are good. The primaries are unbelievably consistent, and the alternates have more grip than I've felt in a while, and I'm liking it."
Power was surprised to have come up short for pole. "I thought for sure I would have been on pole with the lap I put in so Dario had a really good lap to beat me. I think maybe I could have finished the full lap instead of pulling in the pits and that would have made the difference." The Timing and Scoring line is just before pit entrance allowing the drivers to either dive into the pits after setting a fast lap or continuing on.
Justin, obviously yesterday was a very difficult day for you and the team. Talk about bouncing back.
Wilson was also disappointed not to be on pole. "Yeah, the car was good in qualifying. The first round, though we had a pretty good balance. Made a couple of small changes. In the second round it was great. I was really happy we didn't change anything into the third. Didn't just quite get the lap I was looking for.
"I think it was there, but we just didn't get it all together. Start third, and I think that's good enough for tomorrow. As we just heard, it's all about the crashing and bashing, so hopefully we can stay out of that from now on and keep our heads down, have a good, solid race and see what happens at the end."
Post Race Q&A with:
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with today's post qualifying press conference. We're pleased to be joined by several of our qualifiers. Alex Tagliani, who qualified sixth. Alex has qualified in the top 10 in Toronto in his last four recent starts at the track.
We're also joined by Scott Dixon who qualified fifth. Scott qualified in the top 10 in every road event this season.
We're also joined by Will Power who qualified second. Will sat on the pole in 2011.
Alex, talk about today's qualifying run here in front of your adopted hometown crowd.
ALEX TAGLIANI: Yeah, very, very pleased. You know, obviously this is a Honda event. I think it was important to us to do a good showing. I mean, since we went back with the Honda power, obviously Detroit, see familiar faces. Scotty and Will were in the Fast Six. Always really tough qualifying. 2/10ths of a second separate the Fast Six cars. It's really a deep field.
But our guys are working really hard. Slowly but surely we're making improvements to the car. It's always good to always consistently be in the front and fight with those guys. That's what we need to be doing to give yourself a chance to score some better results in the season.
THE MODERATOR: We've also been joined by several of our top qualifiers today. Dario Franchitti, our polesitter. This is Dario's fourth pole here at Toronto. This is his 29th IndyCar pole and third consecutive this season.
We're joined by Justin Wilson who qualified third, a two-time polesitter here at Toronto.
Finally we're joined by Sebastien Bourdais, who qualified fourth. Sebastien is a three-time polesitter here at Toronto. This is his best start of the season. His previous best start was ninth this year at Belle Isle.
Scott, we'll continue with questions. Walk us through today's qualifying. Physically demanding out there.
SCOTT DIXON: It was definitely pretty hard work. Q1 wasn't too bad. Had quite a bit of understeer. Then we moved on to Q2. The car, we didn't change much on the car but the balance got better. Our second lap we put in a pretty quick time and came in.
Q3, the car was just really good. I think I messed up a little too much. Two laps I was up 2 or 3/10ths from Q2 and didn't put it together. A bit frustrated, but at least the car is strong. It's good to see Dario take the pole on the last lap, which is definitely handy for the points championship.
Looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully we can get it together a bit better tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Will, another great qualifying effort from you. Looked like you might have had something there at the end for Dario.
WILL POWER: No, I didn't have anything. I was very happy to be second. We kind of struggled to get through every round actually. We just made it in each time. Yeah, I just had one good lap. I just put everything together. That was as good as we could possibly do.
We're happy to start on the front row. Obviously we all know what this race is about. Plenty of crashing and bashing. If we can survive that, be in good shape.
THE MODERATOR: Justin, obviously yesterday was a very difficult day for you and the team. Talk about bouncing back.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, the car was good in qualifying. The first round, thought we had a pretty good balance. Made a couple of small changes. In the second round it was great. I was really happy we didn't change anything into the third. Didn't just quite get the lap I was looking for.
I think it was there, but we just didn't get it all together. Start third, and I think that's good enough for tomorrow. As we just heard, it's all about the crashing and bashing, so hopefully we can stay out of that from now on and keep our heads down, have a good, solid race and see what happens at the end.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, congratulations on another pole, a very important bonus point for you.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. As much the satisfaction as anything is beating guys of this caliber. Putting one together, we're all capable of it. You look at the spread between getting past the first round, it's so close. It doesn't even take a mistake, it just takes leaving something on the table.
The fact I was able to get that lap in at the end, I'm proud of that, proud of my Target guys and Honda, too. Done a great job.
Yeah, I was breathing hard after that one. It doesn't get any easier, I'll tell you that.
THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, obviously yesterday was a rough day for your team to bounce back with a good qualifying effort. Walk us through today's round.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Talking about banging and bashing, I think Justin tried to take out half my team. He did for a few hours.
I'm glad all the guys are okay and we could put together one today. It's been a heck of a season so far. To get to the Fast Six is always an achievement. I was really happy about that.
The car has been brilliant since this morning. We put the options on, picked up massive understeer. Holy hell, we're not going to make it. That was close. The groups, I think I made it by 3/100ths. We worked on it a little more, the car came to us. Had a great time. Thank Dragon Racing and the car was fast today.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. If any of you can weigh in on the fact that Hunter-Reay said with the repavement, it's going to create new lines going down Lakeshore Boulevard. How is that going to go?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Nobody is going to be able to block.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Everybody was fighting for the same thing. It's going to be interesting with the 'push to pass', but also the defending rule. It depends how the defending rule is explained. I've had a couple different explanations this year. Defend to the wall, then to the car within an inch. Interesting to see what happens. Will has some good experience in turn three. Not from last year, but from this morning (laughter).
JUSTIN WILSON: Like Dario said, it all depends what the defending rules are going to be at this track. We'll just try to drive accordingly and react to that.
I think the 'push to pass' might create some overtaking. We've seen you can go on the outside down into three, around there. So I think it's going to be an interesting race.
ALEX TAGLIANI: I think last year we were going to the right to avoid the bumps. This year we're allowed to block, so it's going to be pretty much the same as last year.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think everybody is happy with having no bump.
Q. Dario, Will, not because of what happened last year, but you said yesterday, except for Lakeshore Boulevard, it's the same old Toronto. A little while ago, Will, you talked about this track inviting the crash-and-bang kind of racing. Why is that in Toronto? Close quarters, the walls, what is it?
WILL POWER: I think it's just the long straights that lead into a tight braking zone. And probably the lack of grip out of the corners. No one gets a big jump off the corner.
Yeah, I don't know what happens to everyone at the end of the race here. I guess everyone just gets really aggressive, get yellow after yellow. This year someone takes me out, going to get a smack across the chops (laughter).
Q. Dario, you've been in this position before several times now this year, winning the pole. How do you now proceed to finish and erase what's happened?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: If you can find a way for me to fix the suspension and having a failure, I don't know. All we can do is show up with a fast car and play with the hand we're dealt in the race. That's all we can do. I'm trying to think of any races we haven't had some form of issue this year. Maybe Barber. Apart from that we've had some kind of thing going. You have to roll with the punches, get on with it. At least the Target cars are fast.
Q. Will, did Simon try to apologize? Is there maybe day two of something going on here?
WILL POWER: I gave him the Australian 'go away' when he came to apologize.
But it's all good. He blocked me down the back straight, kind of ran into me. It's all good for me. I'm not out to get him or anything. I just want a good, clean race, do the best I can with what I got.
Q. Justin, how much of a contrast is today compared to yesterday? Were you able to wake up this morning with a clear mind or does it still linger on?
JUSTIN WILSON: It still lingers on. It's never a nice experience. Went round this morning. I actually was texting backwards and forwards with Chuck last night, used to be at Dale Coyne Racing. He was back at his hotel, told me not to worry about it. I went around this morning, see the guys, make sure everybody was okay.
It's never a nice experience. We had to pick up and carry on with the job. The job was to be in the top six today. So I'm really pleased we made it and I'm also really happy Sebastien made it, as well. I think it's fitting for the weekend.
Q. Will, we talked about Simon. Can you talk about what happened between you and Taku.
WILL POWER: I gave him the Australian hello (laughter).
Yeah, I don't know. I don't know whether it was coming out of the pits or what, but that was lucky to get in that session. I was up on that lap. Luckily did it again the next lap. He got in my way. Ruined his day. I don't know who was on his radio, but they should have been telling him who was coming.
Q. Alex, with your qualifying result, did you see some vindication for your team?
ALEX TAGLIANI: I think you always try to do the best thing you can do in qualifying. First of all, the pit selection is important in every race. You have to get everything you can out of the car.
The 10-grid penalty, people had it in the past. But this race is a race of survival. You can still make it to the front with different strategy, tires. So I don't think, you know, like we can count our self out of the race because we have the penalty.
Q. I know you still have the drivers meeting coming up. I'm curious if you could clarify for me what the policy is.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think you have to ask Beau on blocking. Right now, we don't know.
Q. Going into turn three, it's it possible to use the outside or inside?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We don't know.
Q. But you can defend your line, right, as in previous races this season?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Maybe.
Q. You can't keep moving back and forth. You can't do what Helio did to Justin at Detroit a couple years ago.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Right.
Q. Justin, a couple years ago you were in contention to win this race and ended up in the tire barrier. I know no track ever owes you anything, but do you almost feel like you have an excellent chance tomorrow of winning this thing?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think we've got a good chance, but so does everybody that is sat up here. It's going to be down to strategy, not making any mistakes, staying out of trouble, good pit stops. It's going to take the perfect day to be on top.
The competition level is so high this year, it needs that perfect day. Seems so far this year it's been mixed up who has that everything, go the way they need it to on race day.
I'm not expecting to win, but I think we've got a good chance.
Q. Did any of you come up behind E.J. Viso when he slowed at the end of the round two?
WILL POWER: (No microphone.)
Q. (No microphone.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: There's a bunch of guys each week that you have to compete with. Most of them are up here. That group is getting bigger and bigger, it's getting tougher. We've definitely been fighting tooth and nail for three years now.
WILL POWER: Yeah, good fun (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and wrap it up. Thanks for coming in and best of luck in tomorrow's race.
DARIO FRANCHITI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "These Target boys have given us a really fast car all weekend. They have taken very good car of both Scott and I. The times have all been so close all weekend - we happy to be a the top. The Firestone Reds have felt really good and we hit the rhythm and got really good grip during qualifying to get to the top. That was a really hard earned pole. Track position will be very important tomorrow and it is great be up front in Toronto again, the same place I won my first pole 15 years ago in 1997! Tomorrow is going to be a really good race for all the fans that come out to see us.
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I didn't have anything [in the end for Dario], but very happy to be second. We'd struggled to get through every round and made it in each time. I just had one good lap, I could see I was slow on the out on my first set, so I had to put everything together and that was as good as we could possibly do. We're happy to start on the front row, we all know what this race is about, a lot of crashing and bashing so we'll stay out of that and be in good shape."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny's BBQ Honda): "The Sonny's BBQ car was really good in qualifying and the first round we thought we had a pretty good balance, made a couple of small adjustments and in the second round it was great. We're just really happy, we didn't change anything into the third, and just didn't quite get the lap I was looking for. You know, I think it was there, we just didn't get it all together, so we'll start and that's good enough for tomorrow. It's all about the crashing and bashing so hopefully we can stay out of that from now on, keep our heads down and have a good solid race.
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Team Barracuda - BHA Honda): "The Barracuda team did a great job between the sessions. Like Detroit, it's our second street course with Honda power. In Detroit we qualified third; we're sixth here, It's really nice to be able to fight with the top runners. It's a Honda event, so I am very pleased that we were able to do a good showing for them here.
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "It was definitely pretty hard work. Q1 wasn't too bad. Had quite a bit of understeer. Then we moved on to Q2. The car, we didn't change much on the car but the balance got better. Our second lap we put in a pretty quick time and came in. Q3, the car was just really good. I think I messed up a little too much. Two laps I was up 2 or 3/10ths from Q2 and didn't put it together. A bit frustrated, but at least the car is strong. It's good to see Dario take the pole on the last lap, which is definitely handy for the points championship.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "Talking about banging and bashing, I think Justin (Wilson) tried to take out half my team. He did for a few hours. I'm glad all the guys are OK and we could put together one today. It's been a heck of a season so far. To get to the Fast Six is always an achievement. I was really happy about that.
The car has been brilliant since this morning. We put the options on, picked up massive understeer. Holy hell, we're not going to make it. That was close. The groups, I think I made it by three hundredths. We worked on it a little more, the car came to us. Had a great time. Thank Dragon Racing and the car was fast today."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "It was a weird day for everyone with the rain in the morning practice. We could have used a completely dry session this morning. We had to try some things in qualifying that I wish we worked on in the morning. I messed up a bit on my fastest lap or we could have been quicker. I think we could have picked up a few spots on the grid. I felt I could have done better in qualifying. Our best session was probably practice one on Friday. We were the closest to the leaders then. So it has been a little frustrating with our setups. But this is always a wild race. You never know what will happen on Sunday."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): "I'm pretty disappointed. We have a pretty strong race car. It just didn't come to us on reds. I don't know. We'll see what we've got tomorrow. We have a good race-pace, so hopefully we can go do some good things tomorrow."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "We made a change that didn't work. That's the story. It was just the wrong decision from us. It doesn't happen often with the HP team, but we did today. It's Toronto. We'd rather be starting up front and not in 10th, especially since we've had such a good weekend. We made a wrong decision. We'll learn from it and give us the direction to go for tomorrow's race."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "There's nothing wrong with the car. We've got a quality field and it's not easy to beat them. My team manager Mike O'Gara said it best, 'It's easy to work at McDonald's, it's not easy to drive an IndyCar.'" (About missing practice on Friday): "Missing practice yesterday hurt us a little more than I thought it would because we hardly got any dry laps in the practice session this morning. There's just so much talent in this field that you can't let the other drivers get two sessions up on you during a weekend. You can't just turn a few laps and then expect to blow everybody else's doors off. We were only three tenths away from transferring out of the first session though so we we're not miles off."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "We didn't quite get the ultimate lap I wanted. We could've gone much quicker than 59.9 and could have advanced. Disappointed that we didn't--annoyed with myself really. We could've had time to work on the car between Q-1 and Q-2 and disappointed we didn't do that but it is what it is. We have to work on what we can overnight and in the morning to get the ABC Supply car good for the race. We've got to finish and finish well."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "I had a lot of rear (brake) locking going on in qualifying and I couldn't get it adjusted out quickly enough. So hopefully we'll take what we learned today and put it into a good race car for tomorrow. We've had a tough weekend so far; we had a brake issue all day yesterday that we didn't find until the end of the day. Then with this morning's practice being wet, it just didn't give us a lot of time to really figure out where we're at with the car. The new pavement here is definitely a big difference. I think it just amplifies the difference between the new and old pavement. You got used to a lot of the corners just being slick all the way through and now you've got the entrance and exits to a lot of corners being very grippy, but the middle is still as slick as it's ever been. Toronto is always a challenging track, and the new pavement helped, but it will be a fight tomorrow for sure."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): ": "Overall, I'd say it was a good run for us. We're obviously pretty disappointed to qualify 12th. We feel like we should be a lot better than that. We'll get a couple of spots back due to the fact that there are some grid penalties in front of us but I'm disappointed. We had a really good car and we just missed it for the second qualifying session. In the first qualifying session we were right there and in the second we just missed it and we unfortunately couldn't match our pace. We have some work to do for tomorrow. I tend to race here better than I qualifying so let's just hope that it's the same here for the race tomorrow."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): "We just missed it by a little bit. We had a little bit too much understeer, but tomorrow's the only day that counts so I think we're looking good for the race. This track is a challenge to find the balance between how your car reacts in the slow corners versus how it handles in the fast corners. Toronto is always a great race for the fans, but it's nerve-wracking for us drivers because you're always worried about getting hit from behind. The racing has been awesome this year, and I expect the same (tomorrow)."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoRapid FlexTouch Honda): "I think it was a really good qualifying session. We made progress all weekend. The No. 83 NovoRapid FlexTouch car was pretty quick. Even though we qualified 15th, we'll start at least 13th with the grid penalties. We have some good tires for the race. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew will work the strategy in the pits and hopefully I can make some moves on-track so we'll be in the top-10 tomorrow."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): ""Overall it was a good day and a good qualifying session but unfortunately we had a penalty which was quite harsh. Obviously I don't want to impede anyone of course. I went wide in Turn 1 and there were a lot of marbles. I went back on track when the Marshalls said to go. I couldn't see much in the distance; not the closing speeds of any cars. I tried my best to avoid impeding anyone but unfortunately I was penalized. We worked through our run program and made good progress. We were very strong in the wet as we have been this season. Relatively, we lost a little speed at the end of the practice session when the track dried but we came back and were strong in qualifying. Starting ninth (after the engine penalties) of two cars is a good effort. I enjoy driving in Toronto and this was our best qualifying position on a street course this season. Hopefully we can continue to learn in tomorrow's warm-up and move forward in the race. Turn 3 is the best opportunity for passing as it's after the long straight and one of the heaviest braking points on the street circuit. You go from sixth gear to first gear. Nothing is impossible but the other areas are pretty hard in terms of passing."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Dr Pepper Chevrolet): "We're still looking to make the car more driveable. We're working on finding a set-up that suits me on the street circuits, and we haven't quite found it. But, we proved last year that you can come from the back and have a good finish. It's all about keeping your nose clean and staying out of other people's messes. You can do a lot of passing here on the (double-file) restarts."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO-PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "We just didn't have the speed today in qualifying. The balance of the car was decent, but we lack grip which translated into a lack of speed. I was also penalized my two fastest laps for blocking. Still, I am looking forward to tomorrow's race. This is a track where anything can happen. I just have to keep a good pace and stay out there. If I can do that we can have a good result."
JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "We didn't quite have the session we were looking for," said Jakes. "We can do so much better than what our qualifying position shows. I just want to say great job to Justin and the whole No. 18 Sonny's Bar-B-Q team, he had a really strong run today and deserves to be at the top of the pack."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "Obviously yesterday didn't go our way completely - the first session was a bit rough and then no running in the second session, so overnight we took a bit of a swing at it and definitely made the car a lot better for this morning. It's a big credit to the Go Daddy guys and everyone at Andretti Autosport, I think we made all our cars a bit better. It's tough out there - this is IndyCar - it's a lot of good drivers and it's only a tenth-of-a-second that sort of makes a difference. Our big thing is we were using up our tires quicker than other guys. I think the second lap was always my quickest and I didn't have a chance to improve on that so it's too bad. We have to take the penalty so we'll start 19th and see what we can do from there."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "Qualifying the Hitachi car 14th was a bit disappointing; going to the red compound reacted differently than we expected which threw off our aero balance. Qualifying Group Two was strong and unfortunately we came up one spot short. We will continue making adjustments in preparation for the race and plan on a strong finish tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): ""Today felt pretty good, but we know that the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental car is better than eighth. There were a couple of surprises today but we are going to keep working hard and come out tomorrow ready for a good race. There should be plenty of action which should make it interesting for both the drivers and the fans."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet): "I'm disappointed because I think that we made the right calls with the Valspar car and the car was good. It was just a question of putting a lap together and I wasn't able to. I'm just disappointed because I know that we have a good car and I know that we'll do good tomorrow, but I wanted to start more up front than what we have been. I think that we had a car to do that today and it's just so tight and you need to put the lap there and I wasn't able to do it. I'm a little disappointed with myself today, but we'll keep our trend of the year and gain all of the positions tomorrow."
Fast Six Results
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