Toronto: Series qualifying report

FRANCHITTI SCORES POLE FOR HONDA INDY TORONTO TORONTO - Saturday, July 11, 2009 - Dario Franchitti will be starting from a familiar spot for the Honda Indy Toronto. Franchitti, who started on the pole on the streets of Toronto as a rookie in...

FRANCHITTI SCORES POLE FOR HONDA INDY TORONTO

TORONTO - Saturday, July 11, 2009 - Dario Franchitti will be starting from a familiar spot for the Honda Indy Toronto.

Franchitti, who started on the pole on the streets of Toronto as a rookie in 1997, posted a quick lap on the 1.755-mile, 11-turn circuit to top the Firestone Fast Six session for the 85-lap race July 12.

Will Power, making his first IndyCar Series start since the Indianapolis 500, also will be on the front row in the No. 12 Penske Truck Leasing car for Penske Racing. Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson, the winner six days earlier at Watkins Glen International, will share Row 2.

Alex Tagliani and Mike Conway will be on the third row. Six different teams were represented in the Firestone Fast Six. Among those missing out were Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe -- all in the top five in the point standings.

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To commemorate his father's 1986 victory in the inaugural event on the streets of Toronto and open-wheel racing's return, Graham Rahal came up with a special helmet design for the race weekend. It depicts Bobby Rahal's classic helmet design on one side and Graham's design on the other.

"I am looking for this father/son helmet design to bring me some additional luck," the 20-year-old Rahal said.

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POST-PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

* This is Dario Franchitti's third PEAK Performance Pole Award of season and the ninth pole of his career.

* This is Will Power's second front row start of the year. He started from pole at Long Beach.

* This is Graham Rahal's sixth top-five start of the season.

* Alex Tagliani qualified a career-best fifth

* Dario Franchitti and Justin Wilson are the only drivers to qualify for Firestone Fast Six in each of the four races this season. Will Power and Graham Rahal have qualified for three of the four. Power has qualified for all three of his road races this season.

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POST-PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): "I think I got my first pole here in '97, which is an awful long time ago. So that was '97. I was trying to remember what I did right back in '97 this morning so I could kind of put it to practice with the Target car. Usual story. The guys worked really, really hard to improve the car yesterday. Then with the rain this morning, we didn't do too much running. And it was good actually with the changes we made in qualifying. The car was good out of the box. The lap that I did in the Fast Six, I came in afterwards and said basically, 'That's it. That was a hell of a lap. That was as good of a lap as I've driven around here. If they can go quicker, let them have it, because that's all she's got.' I was very happy with the car and the job I did today."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Penske Truck Rentals, qualified second): "My crew just walked in this weekend; the first time they've been back since May and same with me. They did a fantastic job. We're really happy to be second. We would have been a lot happier with first, but second is great. The car has been good since we rolled it off the trailer and the same at Long Beach. I'm just doing my job."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, qualified third): "At the end of the day, the McDonald's car ran extremely well and we made great improvements and it shows what this team can do. We're happy to be third today."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Z-Line Designs, qualified fourth): "I thought it was a reasonable day. Things went quite well. But we weren't just quite quick enough. We started out quite loose, struggling to get the power down, struggling for grip. We kept working on it, kept making improvements. Quite pleased with what we managed to do on the used reds. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to beat Dario (Franchitti). He was on good form as well as Graham (Rahal) and Will (Power). I'm pretty pleased with fourth. Hopefully we'll have a trouble-free race and we'll move forward."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 34 King Tut/Conquest Racing, qualified fifth): "It was a great job for the Conquest Racing team. All of the boys did a fantastic job. We didn't run as much as we wanted to yesterday. I think we left a couple things on the table by not running a new set of tires on Friday. I think the car was decent. We missed a couple of attempts at the end to improve our lap and be in the top three but it was a great effort from all of the boys."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Marines Luczo Dragon Racing, qualified ninth): "I'm a little bit frustrated that we didn't make it into the fastest six. We had a car that could fight for a top five, but I just made a mistake and hit the wall in turn 11. It bent the right toe link and we couldn't go back out. It just means we have to work harder for tomorrow's race."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified 10th): "I have to say, what an incredible crowd. It's great to be back here in Toronto. In qualifying, unfortunately, I got caught in a lot of traffic. I lost about three laps there because of traffic in front of me. This is a tough street circuit. We have some different drivers and teams in the Fast Six, so it should be interesting tomorrow in the race. Team Penske will be ready and we will go for it on Sunday."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, qualified 11th): "It's tough out there. I just had a difficult time finding the balance on the Team Penske car. It was tough to get the tires to come in, and I just couldn't get enough grip. We're starting further back than we'd like but we'll just have to work a bit harder in the race tomorrow and work our way through the field."

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When Dario Franchitti won the pole at Toronto in 1997, Bobby Rahal qualified third. On the first lap, Franchitti and Rahal made contact going into Turn 1. This weekend, Dario scored his third pole at Toronto and the next generation of Rahal - Bobby's son Graham - will start third.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "(Laughing) Looking at the grid, I think Graham is third. In 1997 when I got my first pole, his dad qualified third and took me out in the first corner. So I'm going to have a word with the next generation and talk to Graham and work things out for tomorrow morning so we can get through Turn 1."

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SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE:
9 - 9:30 IndyCar Series warmup
1 p.m. Honda Indy Toronto (85 laps/148.75 miles) ABC (Live)

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Bobby Rahal , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Graham Rahal , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway , Will Power
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dragon Racing , Conquest Racing , Team Penske