Dario Franchitti claimed his second pole position of the IZOD IndyCar Series season with an emphatic performance in qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Scot took full advantage of his late starting berth, when track conditions were near their best, to set a two-lap average speed of 170.843mph and blitz the rest of the field.
Having extended his championship lead over Will Power last time out at Mid-Ohio, the Scot was handed a double boost: collecting one point for pole and seeing Power, who was first out on a track which improved through the session, qualifying in 13th position.
After moving into ninth in the all-time IndyCar pole position list, Franchitti said: "That was about as good as we could do today. The car was obviously quick but I was hanging on at times – I wouldn't want to do that run again."
Oriol Servia will start alongside Franchitti on the front row, the Newman/Haas driver having been on provisional pole for the majority of the session as he continued his strong form on ovals.
"We've been knocking on the door," Servia said, "but its so competitive, it takes a perfect weekend. Dario has been mega, but he can have a bad race – and if there's an opportunity, we'll get it."
Servia's teammate James Hinchcliffe completed an excellent session for the team as he took a share of the second row, finishing fourth behind KV Racing's Tony Kanaan, who belied the poorer early conditions by clinching third.
In contrast to Kanaan, Power struggled for grip as he went out first in qualifying and fell down the order as the session progressed. He will start from 13th, alongside Dale Coyne's Alex Lloyd. With Power sliding down the order, Penske's top representative was Ryan Briscoe in sixth place, the Australian sharing the third row with Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Helio Castroneves in the third Penske,meanwhile, qualified ninth behind Mid-Ohio winner Scott Dixon – who complained of too much downforce on his way to seventh – and KV's Takuma Sato. Charlie Kimball rounded out the top 10, with Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand and Andretti's Mike Conway completing the top 12.
The biggest loser in the hour-long session was Ganassi's Graham Rahal, who had been quick in practice but suffered a major moment through Turn 3 on his warm-up lap.
"I was trying to get everything out of the car, and it snapped big," he explained. "I was lucky to save it, but I'm just disappointed and upset." The incident ruined Rahal's momentum and left him 23rd on the grid, the 22-year-old having been a pole contender before his run commenced.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Pippa Mann missed the session and will also miss Sunday's race after being briefly hospitalized following a heavy crash in practice
Mann was removed from competition by the IndyCar Series medical staff, after suffering a heavy impact in the crash. Precautionary x-rays of her neck and a CT scan were both negative and she is being released from Concord Hospital in Concord, NH.
"Pippa worked very hard this weekend and we are hoping for a speedy recovery and a return to the Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar,” said RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal.
Pos Driver Team Speed
1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 170.843
2. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas 169.831
3. Tony Kanaan KV 169.698
4. James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas 169.590
5. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 169.570
6. Ryan Briscoe Penske 169.451
7. Scott Dixon Ganassi 169.114
8. Takuma Sato KV 169.004
9. Helio Castroneves Penske 168.886
10. Charlie Kimball Ganassi 168.434
11. JR Hildebrand Panther 168.047
12. Mike Conway Andretti 167.852
13. Will Power Penske 167.011
14. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 166.877
15. Danica Patrick Andretti 166.834
16. Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt 166.809
17. EJ Viso KV 166.536
18. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold 166.381
19. Vitor Meira Foyt 166.253
20. James Jakes Dale Coyne 165.265
21. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 164.958
22. Marco Andretti Andretti 164.722
23. Graham Rahal Ganassi 163.816
24. Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 162.285
25. Ed Carpenter Sarah Fisher 161.734
26. Simona de Silvestro HVM 157.437