Franchitti 1 mph faster than Servia, Kanaan starts 3rd
Ganassi Racing driver Dario Franchitti's two-lap average speed of 170.843 mph put the extraordinarily-fast and brightly-colored fluorescent yellow No. 10 car onto pole at New Hampshire Speedway on Saturday for this weekend's IndyCar event in Loudon, New Hampshire.
The first time you go wide open here it takes a little faith...
"The crew did a great job with the car," said Franchitti. "It's a real team sport and we did a good job of tossing around ideas to make the car quick."
Franchitti commented further on the difficulty of competing on this lightning-fast one-mile oval. "The first time you go wide open here it takes a little faith," he said, "and I was hanging on out there. I wouldn't want to do it again."
Franchitti further padded his lead in the 2011 IndyCar series championship points race with a bonus point, adding further emphasis to the stunning full mile per hour advantage he enjoys over the remainder of the field.
Franchitti's fastest lap of 170.859 mph fell well short of the track record of 175.367 set in August of 1996 by Richie Hearn.
Oriol Servia of Newman/Haas Racing qualified second with a speed of 169.831 mph. "We focused on working on getting a good car and it showed. It's just like Indy (where Servia started on the outside of the front row) and we're going to be right there for the race."
KV Racing Technology - Lotus veteran Tony Kanaan posted at mark of 169.698 mph to start on the inside of row two for the 225 lap/225 mile event that will commence at 3:30 PM EDT.
Servia teammate James Hinchcliffe parlayed his standing as fastest in final pre-qualifying practice into a spot starting grid alongside Kanaan on an average speed of 169.590 mph.
Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth-fastest with two laps that measured 169.470 mph; while Ryan Briscoe's 169.451 mph average put the No. 6 Team Penske machine on the outside of row three.
"This place is hairy when you're flat-out on the throttle," said Hunter-Reay. "I love these small ovals. You have to counter-steer, and you have to be able to catch it; but man, the margin for error is so small."
Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon made two laps at an average speed of 169.114 mph to land on seventh and Kanaan teammate Takuma Sato placed next on the scoring pylon at 169.044 mph.
Helio Castroneves earned his career 200th start for Team Penske with a two-lap average speed of 168.886 mph—good enough for a spot on the inside of row five.
Ganassi's Charlie Kimball found himself in the tenth spot with an average speed of 168.434 mph.
Penske's Will Power continued his rearward slide through the IndyCar field with a qualifying speed of 167.011 mph and will start mid-pack in 13th position. He now trails Franchitti by 63 points in the championship chase.
Andretti Autosport's Danica Patrick ran to 166.834 mph for fifteenth, while teammate Marco Andretti mustered a two-lap average of 164.722 mph to earn the 22nd starting position on a 26-car grid.
Graham Rahal of Ganassi Racing made a heart-stopping catch of the No. 35 Dallara Honda to post a 163.816 mph result and landed 23rd.
Pippa Mann put the Rahal Letterman Lanigan car into the wall just beyond the SAFER barrier in Turn 2 in final practice and was transported to the hospital for evaluation after the hard crash. She was reported to have an injury to the left foot. Her race status has not yet been determined.
The race will be broadcast live on Sunday afternoon on the ABC television network. The race will also be heard on radio and internet streaming via the Indianapolis Motor Speedway radio network.