Dario Franchitti has claimed pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Sonoma, leading a Chip Ganassi Racing front-row lockout of the Californian circuit in another closely-contested qualifying session.
It is the Scot’s fourth pole position of the season and his third at Sonoma Raceway, and despite his impressive qualifying record in 2013, the four-time IndyCar Series champion is yet to celebrate a race win this season.
But with overtaking a notoriously difficult feat around the undulating 2.385-mile road course, Franchitti is in prime position to become the tenth different winner of the season.
However, he will have to contend with the challenge of teammate Dixon, who with three race wins in 2013 remains a far more realistic contender for outright championship honours. The New Zealander lies in second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings, while Franchitti is over 100 points adrift of the lead in sixth.
Will Power was third-quickest in his Team Penske entry, one spot better than reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, while current points leader Hélio Castroneves finished fifth-quickest ahead of last-time winner Charlie Kimball in the third Ganassi entry.
Qualifying proved a rather tougher challenge for those making their return to the grid, with JR Hildebrand (Barracuda Racing) and Ryan Briscoe (Panther Racing) both qualifying well down the order.
Championship newbie James Davison was 21st-fastest in his second outing for Dale Coyne Racing, while series debutant Lucas Luhr was some margin off the pace in his first outing for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
2013 IndyCar Series GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma – Qualifying Results:
|‘Fast 6’ Qualifiers||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||1:17.5271|
|2.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||+ 0.1925|
|3.||Will Power||Team Penske – Chevrolet||+ 0.4464|
|4.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||+ 0.6043|
|5.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske – Chevrolet||+ 0.6495|
|6.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||+ 0.6738|
|‘Round 2’ Qualifiers||Entry / Team||Result|
|7.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||1:18.2138|
|8.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||1:18.3051|
|9.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||1:18.3135|
|10.||Simon Pagenaud||SPH – Honda||1:18.3787|
|11.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||1:18.6230|
|12.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||1:26.7515|
|‘Group’ Qualifiers||Entry / Team||Result|
|13.||Takuma Sato||AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda||1:18.9164||G1|
|14.||Tristan Vautier||SPH – Honda||1:18.3141||G2|
|15.||E.J. Viso||Team Venzuela – Chevrolet||1:18.9344||G1|
|16.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||1:18.3318||G2|
|17.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda||1:19.0094||G1|
|18.||JR Hildebrand||Barracuda Racing – Honda||1:18.7114||G2|
|19.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||1:19.1563||G1|
|20.||Sebastián Saavedra||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||1:18.8967||G2|
|21.||James Davison||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||1:18.5285||G1|
|22.||Ryan Briscoe||Panther Racing – Chevrolet||1:18.9743||G2|
|23.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||1:19.5298||G1|
|24.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet||1:19.2376||G2|
|25.||Lucas Luhr||Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda||1:19.9805||G2|