Dario Franchitti used the final moments of third-round “knockout” qualifying to do just that: knock Ryan Briscoe off the pole in IndyCar Series qualifying Saturday at Infineon Raceway, and claim the inside-front-row starting position for Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County.
After leading much of the final, 10-minute “Firestone Fast Six” qualifying, Briscoe will start second, with his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, third. Marco Andretti will start fifth for Andretti Green Racing, leading the team in its best overall qualifying effort of the season. Teammate Hideki Mutoh will line up fifth, with Tony Kanaan seventh, rookie Franck Montagny eighth in his IndyCar debut; and Danica Patrick in 11th.
Today’s action was marred by a serious three-car crash in the opening practice. Nelson Phillipe spun just over the brow of the blind right-hand Turn 3, and his car was then clipped by E.J. Viso and then stuck violently by Will Power. Viso escaped injury, but Power and Phillipe were transported to an area hospital for treatment of concussions for both drivers, a fractured left foot for Phillipe and a back fractures for Power. Sunday’s race starts at 5:45 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on Versus starting at 5 p.m.
Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) pole qualifier, his fourth pole of 2009, seventh career IndyCar Series pole: “I’m pretty happy right now. We’ve made the “Fast Six” [final qualifying round] at every road and street course this year, and that’s a great achievement for our team. I think we’ve got a good race car, and it definitely helps to start up front here. But the championship point [for pole] that we earned today, that’s more important than anything.”
Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma - Qualifying Report
Circuit: Infineon Raceway (2.30-mile road course) Sonoma, CA
2008 Winner: Helio Castroneves (Team Penske Honda) 100.254 mph average
Weather: Sunny, mild, 74 degrees F