Franchitti wins qualifying heat race for Iowa pole
Newton, IA (Sports Network) - Dario Franchitti from Target Chip Ganassi Racing won Friday's third and final qualifying heat race to win the pole position for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway.
For the first time in the history of IZOD IndyCar Series, three heat races of 30 laps each determined the starting lineup. The groups for each qualifying event were determined by practice times. Practice was held earlier in the day.
The third race consisted of the top-eight finishers in practice.
Marco Andretti, who won last year's 250-lap event at Iowa, started first since he had the fastest lap in practice. Andretti led the first seven laps around the 0.875-mile oval before Franchitti, the three-time defending series champion, passed him and then ran in front for the remaining 23 circuits.
"We were struggling a little bit this morning with the car in race trim, but we made it much better in the second session of practice," Franchitti said. "I got out in front, and the car felt good - no troubles for the rest of the run with no real fall off till the end of the race. Physically, it is a tough track, so it will be an interesting race for us. Good to be starting up front here for sure."
Helio Castroneves from Team Penske finished 1.5 seconds behind Franchitti to claim the outside pole. Castroneves moved around Andretti on lap 16 to take over the second spot.
"Certainly, 30 laps I believe was enough, but it was getting tough out there," Castroneves said. "I was able to make a pass on Marco, but then there wasn't enough time to catch Dario."
Andretti will start third.
"We really wanted to get the pole, but we were a little off on our gearing for the car," he said. "We can work on that. It's really the race that counts."
James Hinchcliffe will share the second row with his teammate, Andretti, while Penske drivers Ryan Briscoe and Will Power roll off from row three.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won last Saturday's race at The Milwaukee Mile, placed his Andretti Autosport car seventh on the grid. Franchitti's teammate, Scott Dixon, will start next to Hunter-Reay in eighth.
Tony Kanaan won the second heat race to qualify ninth, while Graham Rahal took the checkered flag for the first qualifier to earn the 10th position. However, both drivers incurred a 10-grid spot penalty for unapproved engine changes. Therefore, Alex Tagliani and rookie Josef Newgarden will take their spots on row five.
E.J. Viso qualified 16th, but Viso was also penalized 10 grid spots for an engine change. He will start from the rear of the field.
Saturday's race at Iowa is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. (ET).
06/22 23:22:13 ET