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Franchitti tops in qualifying at Milwaukee

West Allis, WI (Sports Network) - Dario Franchitti will start on the pole for Saturday's IZOD IndyCar Series race after posting the fastest two-lap average in qualifying at The Milwaukee Mile.

Franchitti, the four-time IndyCar champion, recorded an average of 168.737 mph during his two laps around the flat, one-mile oval for his 27th career pole in the series, which placed him in a tie with Al Unser for seventh on the all- time pole winners list.

The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver struggled in both practices here on Friday. He placed 11th in the first session and 18th in the second.

"I'm very pleased as much as I am surprised, actually," Franchitti said. "That was quite a turnaround from practice. As warm as it is, the track is pretty slick, and it looks like everyone is fighting the car. I expect tomorrow is going to be tough."

Franchitti started on the pole and won at Milwaukee one year ago.

Justin Wilson, who won last weekend's race at Texas, qualified second, but Wilson is one of seven drivers who received a 10-grid spot penalty for an unapproved engine change. Therefore, the Dale Coyne Racing driver will start 12th.

"Everyone at Dale Coyne Racing has given me a great race car," Wilson said. "It drove really well during those (qualifying) laps. It's just up to me not to mess it all up. I think we got a good car in traffic, so we got a chance of coming back."

Will Power and Scott Dixon -- the top-two drivers in points -- as well as Ryan Briscoe, Mike Conway, Takuma Sato and rookie Josef Newgarden have also received a 10-grid spot penalty for engine changes.

Power qualified fourth but starts 14th. He currently holds a 36-point lead over Dixon.

"I'm happy with qualifying, but it's going to be a tough race tomorrow," Power said.

Dixon will start 21st in the race after finishing 11th in qualifying.

Ryan Hunter-Reay will share the front row with Franchitti, while Rubens Barrichello and Helio Castroneves will roll off from row two.

The 225-mile Milwaukee IndyFest is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (ET).

06/15 18:46:41 ET

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