Joe Jennings, IndyCar Correspondent
For the second year in a row, Dario Franchitti copped the pole position for the Milwaukee IndyFest presented by XYQ at the legendary Milwaukee Mile. The Indianapolis 500 winner achieved a two-lap average speed of 168.737 miles per hour to gain his 27th IZOD IndyCar Series pole, tying him with Al Unser for seventh place on the all-time list.
Franchitti drove the Cottonelle Honda fielded by Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
I knew if we lifted we were screwed.
“I am very pleased with the results,” he said. “Practice is one thing; qualifying is another thing and the race is another thing. Tomorrow should be tough, and it will be a long day,” the 2011 race winner said. A year ago, he led 166 of the 225 laps en route to the win.
The Scotsman’s day didn’t start off well as he timed 10th and 18th, respectively, in the two practice sessions that preceded qualifications.
“It was definitely a turn-around situation for us, as we sucked in practice,” he stated. “We put our heads together (after practice) and we just came up with something.” Admitting he hung it all out in qualifications, he said, “I knew if we lifted we were screwed.”
Firestone 550 winner Justin Wilson qualified second fastest in the Dale Coyne Honda at 168.287 mph.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power were third and fourth fastest with Milwaukee rookie Rubens Barrichello fifth and Helio Castroneves sixth. These four were in Chevrolet-powered entries.
Seventh through 10th fastest were Josef Newgarden, E. J. Viso, Ryan Briscoe and Tony Kanaan.
Franchitti’s teammate Scott Dixon qualified 11th on the charts.
The starting line-up will be different from that of the qualifying results, as seven teams have been assessed with 10-grid spot penalties due to unapproved engine changes.
Those affected are the cars of Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Mike Conway, Will Power, Takuma Sato, Newgarden and Wilson.
On Saturday for the start of the race, Franchitti will be joined in the front row by Hunter-Reay in the Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car for Andretti Autosport. Barrichello and Castroneves will form the second row, and they will be followed by KV Racing Technology teammates Viso and Kanaan.
Wilson, the second fastest qualifier, will drop back to the 12th starting position.
ABC will telecast Saturday’s Milwaukee IndyFest 225 live at 1 p.m.