Fast Six drivers put on a show for the Canadian fans
Dario Franchitti had the crowd on their feet as the defending IZOD IndyCar champion nailed down the pole on the final of his allowed five laps in the Fast Six qualifying round. On the 1.75-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit, Franchitti turned his best lap time at 59.3510 for a speed of 106.407 mph in his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car powered by Honda to earn his fourth pole in Toronto, Canada. It is the third consecutive 2012 pole for the Scotsman.
"These Target boys have given us a really fast car all weekend. They have taken very good car of both Scott [Dixon] and I. The times have all been so close all weekend - we happy to be at the top,” said Franchitti.
Franchitti’s hot lap did not touch the track record of 57.143 set by CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) driver Gil de Ferran in 1999; but it is a new IndyCar Series record that was held by Will Power when he grabbed the pole in 2011 with a 59.3535 seconds.
Franchitti added, “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.”
In this year’s final six shootout, Power appeared to have the pole in his grasp with his earlier lap time of 59.3757 (106.407 mph), but in the end, the Australian had to settle second by a mere .0247 seconds. Still the driver of the Chevrolet powered No. 12 Verizon Team Penske will have the front row start as they head into the very tight Turn 1.
"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,” said the Aussie.
Justin Wilson will start on the second row with a 59.4506 (106.273 mph) lap for Dale Coyne Racing. "The Sonny's BBQ car was really good in qualifying,” said the Englishman. “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.”
Sebastien Bourdais made it into the Fast Six for the first time in his partial IndyCar challenge. He will start fourth with his best lap time of 59.4721 (106.235 mph). The Dragon Racing Frenchman was very pleased with his best qualifying run: “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,” added Bourdais.
The third row was taken by Scott Dixon with his best of 59.5140 (106.160 mph), and French-Canadian Alex Tagliani at a top time of 59.5616 (106.075 mph).
Dixon admitted his frustration of not being able to challenge his teammate for the pole; let alone being on the front row. The Kiwi explained, "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.”
On the other hand, the French-Canadian driver for the Team Barracuda – BHA team was pleased with a top six start for tomorrow’s race. "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,” said a positive Tagliani.