Dario Franchitti claimed his and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team's first pole position of the IZOD IndyCar Series season in Milwaukee qualifying.
The reigning champion was quickest in both today's practice sessions, and carried that form through to qualifying with a two-lap average of 170.841mph after a run he rated as his best ever at the Wisconsin one-mile oval.
"I am glad to be back at the Milwaukee Mile and this is a great place to start from for tomorrow's race," said Franchitti, who won the first IndyCar Series race at the historic track in 2004 by charging from the seventh starting position. "It is going to be a tough day because it is like a one-lane track out there with the marbles on side and the black asphalt lane. I think the double-file restarts will work well here at the Milwaukee Mile and the fans are in for a hell of a show."
Ganassi looked set for a front row sweep for a while as Franchitti's teammate Scott Dixon held provisional pole before the Scot's qualifying attempt. But Helio Castroneves improved a low-key day for Penske by getting between the Ganassi duo to take second late in a session which saw his teammates Ryan Briscoe and Will Power only eighth and 17th, leaving the latter particularly frustrated.
"That's a tough qualifying result," said Power. "We were flat through Turns 1 and 2 but we had a big moment there in Turn 3 when we got loose that cost us. It's certainly not where wanted to start the race, but we know we have a good racecar and we'll put our heads down and try to make up ground tomorrow. I love racing here in Milwaukee and it should definitely be an entertaining race for the fans."
KV Racing Technology maintained its very strong practice form to put all three of its cars in the top six, Tony Kanaan starting fourth ahead of his teammates Takuma Sato and EJ Viso.
Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti qualified either side of Briscoe in seventh and ninth, with Oriol Servia completing the top 10 for Newman/Haas and Dreyer & Reinbold's Ana Beatriz securing a career-best 11th.
Alex Tagliani's run of pole positions for Sam Schmidt Motorsports came to an end at Milwaukee, the Canadian ending up 19th.
Qualifying was interrupted by a violent crash for Simona de Silvestro, who spun into the barriers at Turn 4 then had a secondary impact with the inside wall. The HVM driver was carefully removed from her car and then taken to hospital for checks and observation. She was awake and alert, but complaining of stiffness.
||Simona de Silvestro