Dario Franchitti draws first blood in Chicago
||IndyCar Season finale
|Saturday, September 08, 2007
JOLIET, IL - Dario Franchitti will have a head start of a few feet in his attempt to wrap up the IndyCar Series championship.
The points leader secured his third earned AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award of the season with a lap of 214.646 (25.4931 seconds) on the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway oval in qualifications for the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean.
The Team Penske cars of Sam Hornish Jr. (214.492) and Helio Castroneves (214.380) will provide an initial buffer between Franchitti and the other title contenders, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, will start sixth (214.217) and Kanaan (214.310) will start fourth.
Dan Wheldon (214.246) will share Row 3 with his teammate.
Franchitti holds a three-point lead over Dixon and a 39-point advantage over Kanaan. None of the contenders have won at Chicagoland Speedway, which has produced the closest 1-2 and 1-2-3 finishes in IndyCar Series history.
PEAK ANTIFREEZE INDY 300 POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:
. This is Dario Franchitti's third AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award this season and the sixth pole position of his IndyCar Series career. His last pole came at Infineon Raceway last month.
. Dario Franchitti earned his seventh front-row start in 2007 and fifth consecutive front row start.
. This is Andretti Green's fifth earned pole this season and its 19th pole position in the IndyCar Series.
. IndyCar Series championship contenders Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon qualified fourth and sixth, respectively.
. Darren Manning qualified eighth, his best effort on an oval this season.
PEAK ANTIFREEZE INDY 300 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Honda/Dallara/Firestone, AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award Winner): "I was surprised because we ran a lot quicker than that this morning. Quite honestly, I think the track just slowed down. So we were just sitting there watching the usual suspects go through, thinking, 'This could be close.' But what can I say - the guys on the Canadian Club team have built a great car and my engineers have been doing it right."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified second): "We had a great car in practice today, but unfortunately we came up a little bit short during qualifying. It's too bad we couldn't get it done out there today, but we have 200 laps tomorrow to get it right. The Team Penske guys have been doing an amazing job in the pits all year and hopefully we'll be able to bring it home near the front tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified third): "We had a fuel intake issue on the car during the first practice session this morning, but the Team Penske crew worked quickly to fix the problem. Once we were able put that behind us, the car was great, and we thought that we might have a chance at the pole, but we just didn't have quite enough to overtake Dario (Franchitti) or Sam (Hornish Jr.). The good news is that both Team Penske cars seem to be working very well and are close on speed, so hopefully Sam and I will be able to work well together tomorrow in an attempt to end our season on a high note. After all of the ups and downs this year, we would like nothing more than to end it in a positive way."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I think we have a pretty good car. We worked really on the race setup during both sessions, we kind of split it between me and Dario, a little bit. Some of the stuff he was trying was to find the speed. I was trying to find the grip for the race, and we came up with a pretty good combination. So we feel confident for tomorrow."
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified fifth): "I'm frustrated. This is a track I normally do very well at, but we just seem to always lose speed in qualifying. It's something that we need to work on. I think the car is good for the race, but I'm just frustrated with qualifying bad. From a car that's dominated the last two years here to a car that's struggled to do a good time in qualifying, it would be nice to know why."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified sixth): "The day seemed pretty good. The car felt comfortable. Definitely in traffic, we've been pretty happy. For qualifying, all we wanted to do was start near the front. We were a little ways back, which we were a little shocked by. I think the top six are so close. I think it's a 14th of a mile an hour, so it's going to be a tough race tomorrow. Unfortunately, we're on the wrong end of the 14. So we'll do our best to move up the front and see how it goes. But all in all I think we're pretty happy today."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team Motorola Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified seventh): "I thought that lap was alright. We went almost as quick as we did in our qualifying simulation in practice, so I don't think that was too bad. That was much better than a lot of the qualifying runs we've had this year with the Motorola car, so I'm pretty happy with that overall."
DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified eighth): "I'm pleased with that run. We've played it pretty cautious on our qualifying set-up over the season and this weekend, we decided to get a bit more aggressive focusing more on speed rather than finding a comfortable race set-up. Most races we finish the weekend knowing what we should have done, this weekend we came here knowing what we had to do."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified ninth): "We qualified about as quick as we could go and I guess so long as we start in the top-10 for the race, I will be fairly happy about it. From there it's just about getting in a good position early in the race and getting a strong finish."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 60 Formula Dream Panther Honda/Dallara/Firestone, qualified 13th): "We couldn't quite find a good setup in the practice session so we changed the setup in the second practice session and it was good. I thought we would be able to qualify in a better position but I guess it's not that easy. We have a good car so I am looking forward to my first race in IndyCar Series. My goal is to finish the race and it would be great if I could finish in the top 10.
||Hornish Jr, Sam
||Foyt IV, AJ
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