Dario Franchitti finally notched his first pole at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Ryan Hunter-Reay earned his place in the front row for this weekend’s IndyCar race.
Long Beach, Calif. – Dario Franchitti had it when it counted as he copped the pole position for the Toyota Grand Prix Prix of Long Beach, the third race of the IZOD IndyCar Series season. His speed around the 1.968-mile street course was a rapid 105.369 miles per hour done in 1:07.2379 seconds.
For the Scottish driver, he earned his 30th IndyCar pole but the first scored at Long Beach. Another fact is that Sunday’s race will mark his 250th start. He drove the Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
“It is nice to get a pole, particularly after the tough season we have had,” the pole winner said. “To turn it around today I have to take my hat off to the team.” He indicated he reached back and gave it an extra effort on the last lap, throwing caution to the wind. “When the car is good, I can throw it around. When the car was like it was at St. Pete, it was not an option. Some of the slides I did today seemed to work. But Jackie Stewart would have rapped my knuckles for the way I drove today.”
Regarding the improved performance of Honda, he added, “Honda has made massive strides that have worked unbelievably well in closing the gap. They have put in a lot of hard work.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay took second place honors, but he was frustrated with the outcome. “It definitely stings; I lost the pole to Will (Power) a couple of years ago here by probably the same amount,” he commented. “When you come back to pit lane, you think about a half tenth – you could put that together in your head. It is pretty frustrating to miss it by that much. With that said, tomorrow is the only day that counts and second is a good place to start. We are progressing and hopefully tomorrow we will come out with a better race car.”
Driving the DHL Chevrolet, the Floridian’s speed was 105.282 mph or 1.07.2934 seconds for the run.
Will Power clocked third at 105.118 mph.
Takuma Sato earned the fourth starting spot at 105.042 mph with comeback driver Mike Conway fifth and Helio Castroneves sixth.
Conway had hoped to do better but in the end, he thought fifth was acceptable.
Three Honda’s and three Chevrolet’s comprised the top-six qualifiers.
St. Petersburg winner James Hinchcliffe qualified seventh followed by Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and E. J. Viso.
Another comeback driver, A. J. Allmendinger, will start from the 14th position.
Scott Dixon had a rapid run going until he spun out in the first turn with Oriol Servia striking the tire barrier instead of hitting Dixon’s stalled car.
Dixon was penalized for the error, losing his two fastest laps, and will start 27th or last.
Marco Andretti also earned a penalty for interfering with J. R. Hildebrand, and the former was lost his two fastest laps. He will start 26th.
The 80-lap Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast by the NBC Sports Network, start at 4 p.m. ET.