IRL: Franchitti wins pole at Michigan

Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti posted a best speed of 218.308 mph to win pole for Sunday's (August 5th) Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The pole-sitter's share of ten thousand dollars from the million-plus dollar race...

Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti posted a best speed of 218.308 mph to win pole for Sunday's (August 5th) Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

The pole-sitter's share of ten thousand dollars from the million-plus dollar race purse goes into the kitty at AGR, who hope with a similarly-rewarded race effort to gather some breathing room for the Scot from the hot pursuit of Ganassi's Scott Dixon (now only twenty-four points astern in the chase for the IRL championship).

"That was a good start," said Franchitti from trackside as the one-hour long qualifying session wound down to a close, and he and his crew posed for the cameras as the big check was handed over to them. "The guys on the Canadian Club crew have given me a great car. Hopefully, we can stay in front!"

"We've got to do the best we can, week in week out," he continued making reference to the tightening points chase between himself and Dixon, one which he has led since winning the Indianapolis 500, "and see what we end up with at the end of the season."

Behind Franchitti was Team Penske's Sam Hornish, Jr who drove to a 218.024 mph lap that was a tick faster than teammate Helio Castroneves's trip at 217.984 mph.

"We just couldn't find the speed that we wanted," said a disappointed Hornish, who was looking to impress a large contingent of family and friends at what he quietly considers his "home track" here just slightly more than an hour from his Defiance, Ohio home. "The only good thing is this track offers a lot of opportunity to pass, and hopefully we'll be in position to do that tomorrow (on raceday)."

Patron's Scott Sharp looked comfortably quick, just as he did at Texas Speedway in June, by finding his way around the 2 mile oval at a fourth-best speed of 217.631 mph, and one spot better than Ganassi's Dan Wheldon (217.448 mph) in fifth; while 2003 Michigan winner Tomas Scheckter of Vision Racing posted a 217.434 mph sixth place qualifying effort late Saturday afternoon.

Dixon came up short of a spot at the front of the pack, earning a 217.369 mph lap that left him seventh on the grid. He'll line up alongside AGR's Tony Kanaan who sped to a 217.192 mph circumnavigation of this huge, high-banked racetrack in rural southcentral Michigan in spite of a mechanical gremlin that knocked him out of contention for pole.

Danica Patrick looked very racy in the black and blue Motorola No. 7, turning in a best of 216.957 mph to put herself ninth; next to a superb effort by Scheckter teammate Ed Carpenter, who qualified at 216.295 mph to fill the fifth row.

Jon Herb's practice crash left him unable to qualify today, and puts him at the rear of the field when the twenty-car field takes the grid on Sunday. He'll position himself adjacent to Citgo SAMAX racer Milka Duno to complete the entry list.

The 200-lap race is set to take the green flag at 12 Noon EDT, broadcast live on ESPN 2 and via the internet at the IndyCar.com website.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Jon Herb , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Sam Hornis
Teams Team Penske