Homestead: Series qualifying report

FRANCHITTI NOTCHES POLE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP-DECIDING CAFES DO BRASIL INDY 300 AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Friday, Oct. 1, 2010) - Dario Franchitti will start the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 with an 11-point deficit in the ...

FRANCHITTI NOTCHES POLE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP-DECIDING CAFES DO BRASIL INDY 300 AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Friday, Oct. 1, 2010) - Dario Franchitti will start the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 with an 11-point deficit in the championship standings.

Franchitti bumped Will Power, his lone title rival, from the provisional pole and earned his second PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season with a two-lap average of 213.187 mph. More importantly, Franchitti, who entered the weekend trailing Power by 12 points, earned a crucial bonus point for the taking the pole.

Power, who had a two-lap average of 212.580 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, will start third. He was bumped off the front row by Franchitti's teammate, Scott Dixon (212.908).

Dixon is joined on Row 2 by Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe (212.158). National Guard Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon (211.933) and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Justin Wilson (211.630) will share Row 3. Panther/Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter (211.444) and Andretti Autosport's Tony Kanaan (211.392) will be on Row 4.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

IZOD IndyCar Series drivers will have 20 opportunities to use the Honda overtake assist in the 200-lap Cafes do Brasil on Saturday night on the 1.5- mile oval. Each assist has a 12-second duration.

The system employed by Honda Performance Development is an ECU software alteration. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 rpm (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout. There is a 10-second recharge period between uses.

One overtake assist will be activated for the final practice session.

***

Barnett, one of the nation's leading distributors of plumbing, electrical, HVAC and hardware products, has signed to sponsor the No. 78 HVM Racing car driven by Simona de Silvestro for the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 this weekend.

***

Firestone Racing is supplying championship ring Firehawk tires - special white walls to help fans identify the cars of title contenders Dario Franchitti and Will Power - for the race Saturday night.

Also, Firestone Racing is supplying Sarah Fisher Racing's entry with pink-sidewall tires to show its support for the team owner/driver's "On Track for a Cause" breast cancer awareness initiative this weekend. Fisher's No. 67 Dollar General entry is all pink, and she will wear a pink-themed helmet designed by a fan through a vote on indycar.com. To further its support of the cause, Dollar General is donating $25,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Each entry receives eight sets (32 total tires) for the race weekend. The tire specification is making its third race appearance of 2010. Developed in tire testing at Chicagoland Speedway in June, this Firehawk tire combination has received universal praise from teams and drivers for its performance at the Chicagoland and Kentucky Speedway races in the past five weeks.

RICK DREILING (CEO and chairman, Dollar General): "We are inspired by many of our employees, customers and friends who have been affected by this disease. Together, we hope to raise awareness and increase funding to find cures."

***

LPGA Tour rookie Beatriz Recari will offer driving tips to Newman/Haas Racing driver Graham Rahal early this afternoon and then get a ride in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater with Mario Andretti at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

GRAHAM RAHAL: "Golf is something I have played all my life. I absolutely love it. I wouldn't give it up for anything. I have fun every time I go out. It's so relaxing for me. It's something I often resort to when I am at home and trying to get a little time to relax. It will be interesting to see who can hit the ball further, me or Beatriz, because I feel like I can drive pretty far, but you never know. I don't know if my dad exposed me to golf to try to entice me to choose that over racing as a professional career but, if anything, he definitely always felt that golf was what I should be doing over racing cars. But that's a dad for you. It might be fun, in the future, to play in some tournaments. During May at Indy, that's one of the things that I enjoy the absolute most."

***

Following each IZOD IndyCar Series race in 2010, Firestone Racing nominates three drivers who best used their Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event. Fans can go to indycar.com in the days after the race to vote for the nominee they believe made the most "Tire-ific" move of the race, with the top vote-getter earning the honor.

The $10,000 prize from the Sept. 19 event at Twin Ring Motegi goes to Danica Patrick for driving from 12th starting position to finish fifth. Patrick will receive her check in pre-race ceremonies.

***

Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced Sept. 28 that Wade Cunningham will return to the cockpit of the #77 IZOD/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry for the Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka 100, the season finale of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The trio of IZOD, New Zealand native Cunningham, and Sam Schmidt Motorsports had a successful debut in May where Cunningham scored his third Firestone Freedom 100 win at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Cunningham hasn't competed in Firestone Indy Lights since his Indianapolis win. His best finish at Homestead was a fourth as a rookie in 2005.

***

Andretti Autosport driver Sage Karam clinched the 2010 Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda title by winning the race Sept. 30 at Road Atlanta in the No. 8 Team Comfort Revolution car.

Karam, 15, from Nazareth, Pa, also clinched the VP Fuels Rookie of the Year Award.

His Andretti Autosport teammate, 15-year-old Zach Veach, finished second, giving the team its first one-two result of the season.

The USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda is one of entry-level rung on the Road To Indy ladder system to the IZOD IndyCar Series. The other levels are the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and the Firestone Indy Lights series.

SAGE KARAM: "I'm so happy and honored to have won the championship driver title today after winning the first race. We started out the week on a rough note, but it really can't get better than this. I want to thank everybody--Michael Andretti, the Michael Fux Foundation, Comfort Revolution, Mazda, Cooper Tires, the Road to Indy program and my awesome crew. I can't thank Andretti Autosport enough for the opportunity to race this season."

***

morning. TCGR driver Dario Franchitti is 12 points behind points leader Will Power entering the season finale this weekend.

This is the fifth consecutive season the IZOD IndyCar Series championship has been decided at the final race of the season, and Ganassi's team has featured at least one driver in the title bout in all five years.

CHIP GANASSI: "That's what we're here to do. We're here to win the championship. This business doesn't mean anything if you don't want to come here to win. If you don't want to win, I don't know why you're there. We're fortunate to have a great group of sponsors and people who work for us. We're in this sport for weekends like this. We're in this sport for competition like this."

(Does your experience in these championship fights give you an edge this weekend): "I think we have an edge. I look back to where we were a year ago coming into this race, where nobody gave Dario a shot at winning the championship last year. It was Dixon or Briscoe. We were back there on another strategy that worked out. Coming into this situation, the pressure is off us. It's very hard to do what our competitors have to do, which is maintain. It's very hard to do as a race driver. While I'd rather not have a 12-points deficit on our side, I like our position better. I think we have the driver and the team to do what we need to do."

(About Franchitti's experience in tight points races): "I think it's his sort of a "been there, done that" kind of thing. He's been in these situations before. The first time I saw or heard of Dario Franchitti was in Toronto when he was driving for Carl Hogan. I had two young upstarts named Vasser and Zanardi. He knows what he has coming in; he knows where he can take his equipment, how hard he can push his car. The people around him, his crew chief, they're all seasoned people in the sport who have won championships before. They can clearly see the goalpost and they know where the out of bounds are on the left side and right side, and they've got to keep their eye on the goalposts this weekend."

(Is Franchitti's crew the same this weekend? Penske has made changes to Power's crew down the stretch.): "We put that together before season started. We feel pretty good about that. We've had the same guys since the season started. We feel good about our guys. We need to have solid stops during the race, and if you're going to have any theatrics, you want to wait for the money stop, which is the last one."

(About Franchitti's place in history if he wins his third championship Saturday): "I think his name already is in the all-timers. I think it should be if it's not. What was nice was last year after coming off the NASCAR thing, the experiment there, he's among the all-time greats with his Indianapolis accomplishments and his championships. Having won Indianapolis this year in the fashion he did was certainly rewarding to him. It was rewarding to me, so I hope it was for him. Coming into this championship, I think he has all the tools he needs. This will be just one more feather in his cap."

(Are you surprised Will Power has kept his points lead all season?): "I will say at the beginning of the year we didn't think we would be racing him for the championship. I thought it would be one of those other Penske cars. Now that we're down to the last three or four races, that surprise has worn off."

***

A.J. Foyt offered his congratulations to Dario Franchitti for his season's body of work, especially his results on ovals.

Foyt formally presented Franchitti the A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy today at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Franchitti clinched the inaugural award with a runner-up finish in the Indy Japan 300 on Sept. 19 at Twin Ring Motegi. Foyt didn't make the trip to Japan.

Franchitti posted two oval victories (Indianapolis 500 and Chicagoland Speedway) and four other top-five finishes. He enters the season finale with an opportunity to earn his record-tying third IZOD IndyCar Series championship.

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Foyt is the all-time Indy car racing winner with 67 victories.

A.J. FOYT: "He's a super guy and a hard racer. It's great to see someone with his talent win the deal because he deserved it."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: "The A.J. Foyt Trophy, I'm proud of that. I'm a bit surprised. When I first came over here, I really struggled on the ovals. So that's pretty cool. It's a great accomplishment to share with my team."

***

POST-QUALIFYING QUICK QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "This is the moment of truth. My car was pretty good. I don't know what else we could have done."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "I don't know what (crew chief) Chris Simmons did to the Target car between practice and now, but that thing was beautifully balanced.

(After first timed lap): "It felt like a good lap, and I looked down and saw 213 and said: 'Oh, nice. Let's see if we can not screw up the second lap.' I felt it; I was able to take the line I wanted. Now I can relax a little."

***

Dario Franchitti trimmed Will Power's lead to 11 points by earning one point for the Peak Performance Pole today.

***

Will Power was voted as Driver of the Year for the third quarter of 2010 by a panel of 20 motorsports journalists. He edged NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

WILL POWER: "We've had an awesome season at Verizon Team Penske, and without a great third quarter, we wouldn't be in the position we're in -- winner of the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship and battling for the overall IZOD IndyCar Series title."

***

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

* Dario Franchitti earned his second PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season. He also won the pole for the season-opening race at Sao Paulo.

* Both of Dario Franchitti's victories on ovals this season have come from the front row. He won the Indianapolis 500 from the third starting position and at Chicagoland from second.

* Dario Franchitti won his 13th career IZOD IndyCar Series pole position.

* Dario Franchitti won this event from the pole in 2009 to clinch his second IZOD IndyCar Series championship.

* Dario Franchitti won the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway from the pole to clinch his first IZOD IndyCar Series championship.

* This is the second pole of the season for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, both won by Dario Franchitti.

* This is the 30th pole for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in IZOD IndyCar Series competition.

* Scott Dixon equaled his season best by qualifying second. He also started second at Kansas and Iowa, both ovals.

* Justin Wilson qualified sixth, his career best on an oval in the IZOD IndyCar Series. His previous best was eighth in 2009 at Kentucky.

***

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon, 23rd): "We had a mechanical issue during the first session that limited our time on the track, and that, for sure, didn't help us. But the car ran well and was consistent for qualifying. I was able to run at the bottom of the track to maximize the distance, and I could hold that line throughout the run. So that is encouraging for the race tomorrow. We are still just struggling to find speed. The track conditions will be very different for the later race tomorrow, so qualifying is important, but it's more important to have a good race car tomorrow. Tire management is going to be very important, as well. So we'll investigate the setup during the practice session tonight and look forward to the race tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, 10th): "It was a little difficult out there in qualifying. The Team Penske car was loose, especially in turns 1 and 2. I had to move my line around a little bit, and that cost us some speed. We took a chance on our setup. Now we can focus on the race tomorrow and try to end the season with a good finish here at Homestead."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, 16th): "We unfortunately weren't where we hoped to be at the end of qualifying today. I think overall the Venom car is a good race car. We should be able to contend tomorrow night, but we're going to be coming from pretty far back, and that's frustrating."

ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Roll Coater/DRR, 15th): "It was good. We had some issues with the rear, but overall good. We ran a little bit slower than Justin, but we were still pretty fast. Now we'll just have to wait for the race."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, second): "Just wasn't fast enough to win the pole, but it's one point. If it comes down to that, then that will certainly be tragic for either of them. I think it's going to come down to the who's the best in the race. Dario's been in this situation many times before, and obviously they know the areas to focus on and where they need to push."

(How do you guard Dario's flank?): "I'm out here to get in front of Helio. If I can help Dario with what's wrong or maybe working with traffic, that's what I'll to do. It's too hard in a car like this to blatantly help someone."

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds HVM, 25th): "It's a pretty challenging track, one of the first ovals where we have to drive the car because we use up the tires quickly, and I think everybody kind of has the same thing. You have to be managing the tires, and I'm sure that's going to be a big thing for tomorrow. When it gets cooler, I hope it will go our way with the setup, and it's going to be better."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co. A.J. Foyt Racing, 21st): "A lot is about expectation; we weren't expecting this. We unloaded fast, and we kept going fast in practice. All of a sudden we get to qualifying, and the speed's not there. The car didn't change; it's good. We were on the bottom, on the white line, I really can't say much about that. We'll see what the setdown is and go from there. We have to focus on the race. The race can be very tricky. It's a very mechanical track, the tires go away, a lot of people will fade - that's what's going to happen. If the speed's not there, we have to be smarter and take advantage by being consistent."

SARAH FISHER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing, 17th): "We were happy to qualify faster than we ran in practice because the field is so tight. We have a pretty good race car, and the key here is being able to move around because it's such a tough track to pass on. As long as we can move around tomorrow and make some moves, that's what's important. I'm really looking forward to being 'On Track For A Cause' tomorrow night."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 NHR/Quick Trim): "The team has performed well here before, but unfortunately this hasn't been the best place for me, and this year we can't seem to get it figured out. We're really struggling to run on the bottom, and obviously in qualifying that is key. The Quick Trim boys have worked hard and we have raced extremely well this year, so I expect that we can move forward. Our qualifying performance wasn't great, but we're optimistic for the race; we always are."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic): "The car was not what I expected in qualifying. During practice, we were running the race car setup, and the lap time wasn't that bad. Even in race trim, we were in the top 10, so I was expecting a much better qualifying position. We changed the car for qualifying, and we might have changed it a little too much. The car in race trim felt better than at Kentucky and Chicago, so I think that is a good sign. Qualifying at this track is very important because it's quite hard to overtake here, so I'm disappointed with this result."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 36 Sumimed Coldeportes Conquest, 26th): "Not the best qualifying run. We knew that we were struggling a lot with understeer. But unfortunately, it kept this way for qualifying. Being my second race, it is all about experience and trying to gain from that. I'm pretty comfortable in the race car we have. The most important thing here is the race. I will try to forget this and go forward. We worked on our race setup and getting used to traffic. That's why we didn't put too much effort into qualifying. We knew it would be hard. It's the race that really matters."

BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 34 RACB Conquest Racing, 14th): "The qualification was not too bad. We struggled a lot in the first practice. We had a lot of understeer. We had to change a lot of things on the car before qualifying. We were a little bit worried because we didn't know how the car would be. But finally it wasn't too bad. The second lap was very difficult. The car was really on the edge, at the limit. But still we managed to do quite a good time. Hopefully the race will be good tomorrow."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, eighth): "I didn't expect to be that fast, to be honest. I'm a little concerned about the race car, but that was a decent (qualifying) run. I think we'll be OK. Hopefully we'll put on a good show tomorrow night for the fans. I love this place. I know we're not coming back here next year, but let's work hard to be back here in 2012."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, 20th): "We're just lacking some overall speed. We don't really have it yet. I'm confident we'll have it in race trim once we're racing in packs. But qualifying wasn't a good one for us."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com, 11th): "The car felt better than it did in practice. It was the most comfortable and confident I've been during a qualifying run. I was second-guessing myself if I was being aggressive enough. I really like racing here, so hopefully we can get the GoDaddy.com car farther up the field."

TAKUMA SATO (No 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology, ninth): "It was a challenging day. The Miami track is quite tough. This is the first time I have been here, and the track surface is very slippery, so it's is difficult to balance the car. However, through the practice we were able to progress well, and in qualifying I was able to get in some good laps. I am pleased with qualifying ninth."

E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA-KV Racing Technology, 12th): "The PDVSA-KV car felt a little loose on the warm-up lap. But I was able to adjust the car with my tools in the cockpit, and I had a pretty smooth run for the rest of qualifying. This is my home race since I live in Miami Beach. This is a special race for me. It is the last round of the championship, and I have a lot of sponsors as well as many family and friends coming to the event. I have a lot of confidence in the car, as we have run well coming to the front of the field on ovals. I think we can do that again here on Saturday night."

MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology, 13th): "The past week and half in Brazil I have been working in Brazil with physical therapy twice a day to improve my back after the crash in Japan. We qualified OK with the KV Racing car today. This Homestead track is tough with the different wind directions. It means you have to approach one corner different from another. We will work on our race setup today (Friday) in practice, and I think we'll have a good race car. The conditions will be different in the evening."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Panther/Vision/Fuzzy's Vodka, seventh): "It's OK. I was hoping to be around 212. I just wasn't quite as quick. I ran a different gear we thought we could run after the hit-and-run, but I wasn't quite as quick enough to pull it. The car handled good for me. I think I made a mistake in gearing, that's all."

ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America, 22nd): "We've had a really tough weekend so far with the short amount of track time we've had. We've made a couple of changes to improve the car and are really struggling with the race setup after we lost the primary car at Motegi. It's been a busy few days for the guys. We've got a lot of work to do, but the qualifying run was better than what we had in practice. We're going in the right direction."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR, sixth): "It feels great. The Z-Line Design car was just fantastic. We could run right on the white line, and it would just hang on there. So I'm pretty pleased with how everything went, and hopefully we have a great race car for tomorrow. Qualifying is always a tough bit, but practice this afternoon is always the hardest part. You've got the heat. By the time you get into the race, everything has calmed down a bit. You get into that night time, everything cools off a bit, and you have a little bit more downforce. Life gets a bit easier. Just trying to survive the heat of the day, and once you get to that stage, you can start to breathe."

-source: irl

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Kevin Harvick , Sarah Fisher , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Graham Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Mario Andretti , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Will Power , Wade Cunningham , Simona de Silvestro , A.J. Foyt , Danica Patrick , Kyle Busch , Zach Veach , Sage Karam , Ed Carpenter
Teams Andretti Autosport , Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , KV Racing Technology , HVM Racing , Conquest Racing