Franchitti lifts a front wheel en route to Toronto's pole - Firestone Racing photoEnlarge Photo
Just as he had through practice, Dario Franchitti put down his best lap when it mattered in Firestone Fast Six qualifying on the 1.755-mile, 11-corner Honda Indy Toronto circuit at Exhibition Place.
Franchitti's last-second tour of 59.3510 seconds earned the Scot his fourth Toronto pole position (1997, 1998, 2009, 2012), his 29th overall, 19th in the IZOD IndyCar Series and 12th with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, placing the four-time IndyCar champ eighth on the all-time list.
"It's so close out there," Franchitti said, "the difference between transferring and getting the pole to not even getting through the first round takes not even a mistake--just leaving a little bit on the table. The Target boys have given us a really fast car all weekend. The Firestone Reds (alternate tire) have felt really good and we hit the rhythm and got really good grip during qualifying to get to the top. That was really a hard earned pole."
The accolades keep coming for Franchitti, who pipped perennial rival Will Power's Chevy-powered Verizon Team Penske Indy car at the timing stripe by a scant 0.0247 seconds (59.3757), thereby stopping Chevrolet from taking top spot at Honda of Canada's race.
Justin Wilson's Honda was third for Dale Coyne Racing at 59.4506, Sebastien Bourdais took fourth for Chevy (59.4721) and Dragon Racing while Scott Dixon (59.5140), together with Canadian Alex Tagliani (59.7267) completed the Firestone Fast Six using Honda power.
Power was happy to make the Firestone Fast Six--at the last second. He admitted, "I didn't have anything for Dario but we're 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," but really, that's all he needed, coming on Power's fourth of five laps.
There were five different teams represented in the Firestone Fast Six--all separated by a meager 0.2106 seconds. Nobody in the final knockout round went out until there were less than six minutes remaining in the 10-minute round.
While there were showers earlier in the morning, skies cleared for qualifying and allowed the initial two groups of 12 and 13 Indy cars, respectively, to try and make their ways through to the second and third round. In the first group, rookie Simon Pagenaud was quickest (Hona), followed by Wilson, Graham Rahal (Honda), Helio Castroneves (Chevy), Takuma Sato (Honda) and Bourdais.
Group two looked like it might be a faster gathering--but wasn't, as Franchitti, Dixon, Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay (Chevy), James Hinchcliffe (Chevy) and Power out-ran their rivals. In the second round of knockout qualifying, Wilson was quickest, with Dixon, Power, Bourdais, Tagliani and Franchitti sneaking into the final, 10-minute battle for pole.
With 10-spot penalties on tap, three drivers are moving toward the rear including Tagliani, who goes from sixth to 16th, Hinchcliffe starting 19th and Simona de Silvestro bringing up the rear of the 25-car field with her updated Lotus engine. Among the surprises was the lack of competitiveness for KV Racing Technology as Tony Kanaan startts 17th, Rubens Barrichello is 20th and EJ Viso had two laps taken away and holds 24th grid spot--with all of these grid places strictly unofficial at this time; INDYCAR will announce the official lineup on Sunday morning after the warm-up.