Dario Franchitti will start his 250th IndyCar race from pole position

Dario Franchitti will be aiming for a drama-free weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach after claiming his thirtieth IndyCar Series pole position around the 1.968-mile street circuit.

In a closely-fought ‘Fast Six’ qualifying session, the Scot narrowly edged out reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay to top spot by just five-hundredths of a second.

It was a welcome return to form for Franchitti, who has failed to finish either of the preceding races this season at St Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park. With this event marking his 250th IndyCar Series / IRL race start, he will draw ahead of Sébastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy on the all-time winners’ list should he claim a 32nd career win in Sunday’s 80-lap race.

Will Power qualified third-fastest in his Penske entry – the team was the only outfit to get two cars into the ‘Fast Six’ phase, with teammate Hélio Castroneves managing sixth-fastest – which marked the first time since 2008 that he hasn’t qualified on the front-row at the Californian circuit.

Sharing the second row of the grid with him is Takuma Sato, who again showed outstanding qualifying pace in his new AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda entry.

One of Saturday’s star performers was Mike Conway, making his IndyCar Series return with a one-off outing with the Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan team. The Englishman qualified a sensational fifth-fastest, with a performance almost certain to guarantee him more appearances with the team this season.

Narrowly missing out on ‘Fast Six’ berths were the likes of St Petersburg racewinner James Hinchcliffe, along with Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and EJ Viso, who completed the top-ten.

A few high-profile drivers will start well down the order after falling foul of the stewards’ rule book.

The most notable was perhaps Scott Dixon, who looked on course to sail into the second phase of qualifying before he spun in the middle of Turn 1 late in the session, blocking the circuit.

The next man on the scene was Oriol Servià, who had no option but to steer his D&R/Panther entry into the barriers to avoid hitting the New Zealander’s car. That triggered a red flag so marshals could mop up the mess, and will confine both to the back of the grid for Sunday’s race.

Also penalised was Marco Andretti, who was found guilty of impeding JR Hildebrand during the same session. The America had been on course to make the Top-12 phase of qualifying, but his penalty promoted oval-specialist Hildebrand in his place.

2013 IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach – Final Qualifying Results:

No. Driver   Entry / Team Result  
1. Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda 1:07.2379 F6
2. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 1:07.2934 F6
3. Will Power AUS Team Penske – Chevrolet 1:07.3987 F6
4. Takuma Sato AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda 1:07.4472 F6
5. Mike Conway Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda 1:07.5994 F6
6. Hélio Castroneves BRA Team Penske – Chevrolet 1:07.9698 F6
7. James Hinchcliffe CAN Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 1:07.4358 T12
8. Tony Kanaan BRA KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet 1:07.5891 T12
9. Charlie Kimball USA Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda 1:07.6306 T12
10. E.J. Viso Team Venzuela – Chevrolet 1:07.7209 T12
11. Graham Rahal USA Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda 1:07.7799 T12
12. JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing – Chevrolet 1:07.7902 T12
13. James Jakes Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda 1:07.9185 G1
14. AJ Allmendinger USA Team Penske – Chevrolet 1:08.2001 G2
15. Sébastien Bourdais Dragon Racing – Chevrolet 1:07.9823 G1
16. Josef Newgarden USA Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda 1:08.2579 G2
17. Simon Pagenaud SPH – Honda09 1:07.9979 G1
18. Oriol Servià Panther / D&R – Chevrolet 1:08.2889 G2
19. Tristan Vautier SPH – Honda 1:08.1512 G1
20. Simona de Silvestro KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet 1:08.3173 G2
21. Sebastián Saavedra Dragon Racing – Chevrolet 1:08.4404 G1
22. Alex Tagliani CAN Barracuda Racing – Honda 1:08.6431 G2
23. Ana Beatriz BRA Dale Coyne Racing – Honda 1:08.9133 G1
24. Ed Carpenter USA Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet 1:09.0318 G2
25. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing – Honda no time G1
PEN. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 1:09.4506 G2
PEN. Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda 1:09.6706 G2

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.