Franchitti earns pole for opening race
With qualifying postponed overnight to allow grinding of a slick concrete area of track, the battle for the Sao Paulo GP IndyCar pole took place on race morning. Reigning series champion Dario Franchitti took top honors, with Alex Tagliani making a splendid drive to second in his debut with the maiden FAZZT Race Team.
|Dario Franchitti ahead of Tony Kanaan|
The circuit designer employed some heavy equipment to “rough up” the concrete surface of the Anhembi Sambodromo that forms the one-third-mile frontstretch of the 2.6-mile, 11-turn racetrack for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ season-opening Sao Paulo Indy 300. The slippery surface (drivers transition from asphalt of the 180-degree Turn 11 onto the concrete start/finish line stretch) forced postponement of the three rounds of qualifications to the March 14 race day.
After multiple passes of grinders, supplemented by hosing down the area, veteran driver Davey Hamilton tested the grip level by making passes with the Indy Racing Experience two-seater about 5 a.m. (local).
He deemed it much improved, and considerably lower times in the 30-minute warm-up session were confirmation.
Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti prevailed in the Firestone Fast Six, earning the PEAK Pole Award for the 75-lap race with a quick lap of 1 minute, 27.7354 seconds in the 10-minute shootout. Alex Tagliani, competing for first-year entrant FAZZT Race Team, also will start on the front row (1:27.7676).
Alex Tagliani on his 2nd place start for his new team: "This was a huge team effort. Qualifying is just pure speed and the time to show what the Bowers and Wilkins FAZZT Race team is capable of. We came here with confidence but we were a little bit nervous like passing our first exam. We knew we had studied hard and did everything that we had to do but it is when you get to the race track that you can compare your self to others. I think it's a relief now, we broke the ice and we know where we stand. It's a tribute to all of the work that the guys have done. It's not just about building a car to go race, it's about building a team. From last September to now it shows what a good group of people we have built. I want to give a big thank you to the Bowers and Wilkins people who are here at the inaugural event for the IZOD IndyCar Series, what a great result for them! I am hoping we have just as good results for today's race."
Justin Wilson, making his debut for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, will start third (1:27.8183). Ryan Hunter-Reay, also competing in his first race for Andretti Autosport, will start fourth (1:27.8756). Verizon Team Penske driver Will Power (1:28.0156) will share Row 3 with Andretti Autosport's Tony Kanaan (1:28.6946).
Notables starting further back include 2009 series championship runner-up Scott Dixon (seventh), Ryan Briscoe (eighth) and Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves (ninth). Former Formula One driver Takuma Sato, making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut, will start 10th, while another first-race competitor, Simona De Silvestro, will start 11th. Danica Patrick will start 13th.
Notes: Andretti Autosport was the only team with two drivers (Kanaan and Hunter-Reay) in the Firestone Fast Six. ... Franchitti has participated in eight consecutive Firestone Fast Six sessions. ... Hunter-Reay's last Firestone Fast Six participation was at Watkins Glen International in 2008 -- a race he won.
1. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 1:27.7354 (104.058)
2. (77) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 01:27.7676 (104.020)
3. (22) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 01:27.8183 (103.960)
4. (37) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 01:27.8756 (103.892)
5. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 01:28.0156 (103.727)
6. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 01:28.6946 (102.933)
7. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 01:28.0104 (103.733)
8. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 01:28.1176 (103.607)
9. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 01:28.1200 (103.604)
10. (5) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 01:28.2679 (103.431)
11. (78) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 01:28.8691 (102.731)
12. (2) Raphael Matos, Dallara-Honda, 01:29.0994 (102.465)
13. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 01:30.1253 (101.299)
14. (06) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 01:28.4659 (103.199)
15. (19) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 01:30.4641 (100.920)
16. (14) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 01:29.1131 (102.450)
17. (8) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 01:30.4947 (100.885)
18. (4) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 01:29.1960 (102.354)
19. (24) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 01:33.7584 (97.374)
20. (34) Mario Romancini, Dallara-Honda, 01:30.8838 (100.454)
21. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 01:39.6813 (91.588)
22. (23) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 01:32.4161 (98.788)
23. (32) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, No Time (No Speed)
24. (18) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 01:36.0065 (95.094)