3010Franchitti wins pole at Toronto Indy race AP Photo FNG102, FNG103 %reldate(2012-07-07T19:09:31
By JOHN WAWROW AP Sports Writer | July 08,2012
TORONTO (AP) Defending champion Dario Franchitti has won the pole for IndyCar's race at Toronto.
Franchitti won the qualifying session among the fastest six on Saturday with a time of 59.351 seconds. That was 0.24 seconds ahead of IndyCar points leader Will Power, who will join him on the front for the race Sunday.
Franchitti has now won three straight poles, but is looking for a better finish come race day. His engine failed before the start of the race in Iowa two weeks ago. Contact forced him to a 19th-place finish at Milwaukee the previous week.
Justin Wilson, Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon qualified third through fifth. Canadian Alex Tagliani was sixth, but will drop 10 spots as a result of a penalty he incurred for changing engines on Friday.
Led by Franchitti, Honda engines continued a late season surge in the manufacturers' race. Four of the top six cars had Honda engines, with Chevy on the other two.
That marks five straight races in which a Honda engine has won the pole.
The starting lineup will not be official until Sunday, when IndyCar releases an official grid. A shuffle could still happen in the event of drivers making engine changes, which would result in a 10-spot penalty.
Hometown favorite James Hinchcliffe qualified ninth, but is among those who will drop back after changing engines on Friday.
The bad blood between former teammates Power and Simon Pagenaud continued in the practice session Saturday, a day after Pagenaud said the two bumped after Power blocked him in practice.
On Saturday, Pagenaud was guilty of blocking Power on the short straightaway heading into Turn 7. Power eventually got on the outside of Pagenaud, and nearly ran him off the track. The two appeared to touch tires before Pagenaud had to hit the brakes and stop before hitting a tire wall.
Power spun himself out soon after and was shown lifting his visor before raising his left hand.
Pagenaud said he attempted to apologize to Power, but Power would hear none of it. Power unhappily pointed into the air, and then turned and walked away from Pagenaud.
It was a far better day for Dixon and Bourdais after a frightening crash in the pits during the morning practice session a day earlier.
Ryan Hunter-Reay will start seventh, getting into the top 12 despite having his back left tire brush a wall during his qualifying round. Hunter-Reay is second in the point standings, just three behind Power, and is coming off consecutive victories at ovals at Milwaukee and Iowa.
A brief thunderstorm rolled through Toronto on Saturday morning, creating puddles on street course that's already considered slick because of the numerous surface changes.
At the very least, the rains provided cool comfort a day after a sizzling day on Friday, when temperatures were in the high 90s, and measured at 126 on the track. Conditions warmed up, turning it into a muggy afternoon.
It was a better day for both Wilson and Bourdais, who were involved in a frightening crash on pit lane during a practice session Friday morning.
Wilson blamed a transmission problem that prevented him from stopping before hitting four pit crew members and the back of Bourdais' parked car. Two of Bourdais' pit crew members were treated and released in hospital.
And the day didn't get any better for Wilson, who was involved into two crashes on the course.