Dario Franchitti has claimed pole position for Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto round, narrowly pipping championship leader Will Power to pole position in one of the most closely-fought qualifying sessions of the season.
Just two-tenths of a second covered the fastest six drivers in the final phase of qualifying. Texas race-winner Justin Wilson held provisional pole heading into the final minute, before he was pipped by Power.
Franchitti stayed out for one last flying lap, and crossed the line with a time just 0.02 seconds better than the Australian’s to claim top spot and the bonus championship point that goes with it.
Back in the cockpit for this weekend’s street course event, Sébastien Bourdais produced a scintillating effort to finish fourth-fastest for his Dragon Racing team, a great result for the outfit which had seen two of its mechanics hospitalised in a Friday practice accident when they were run over by, coincidentally, Wilson.
Scott Dixon was the only driver from the same team as another ‘Fast Six’ combatant, and the New Zealander will line up fifth for Sunday’s race.
Local hero Alex Tagliani made it into the ‘Fast Six’ in his Bryan Herta entry, but he will take a ten-place grid penalty for an out-of-cycle engine change, promoting Ryan Hunter-Reay – winner of the last two races – to the third tow of the grid.
The lower positions of the grid were given a bit of a shake-up by a tough ballot draw that determined the make-up of the two ‘heat’ groups that would fight it out for the fastest six spots each to make it into the second phase of qualifying.
The second group, in particular, was the tough gig, with two entries apiece from Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing, as well as all three Andretti and KV Racing entries.
Not surprisingly, there were a few who missed out on a better grid berth, with Ryan Briscoe, Tony Kanaan, Rubens Barrichello and Marco Andretti all starting well down the order and with a tough race ahead of the them to try and net a decent result at the end of the race.
2012 IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto Final Qualifying Results:
* Will incur a ten-place grid penalty for an engine change