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Franchitti on Infineon pole, two drivers hospitalised

Dario Franchitti saved his best for last to secure pole for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway on Saturday.

Franchitti's final lap in the Firestone Fast Six shoot-out earned him the PEAK Performance Pole Award with a lap of 1 minute 16.7987 seconds around the 2.303-mile circuit during the 10-minute Firestone Fast Six shoot-out.

“Today I had a pretty good car,” said the Chip Ganassi Racing man. “In a couple corners I had to commit to them and hang on, but in general the car was really good. I'm very happy to get the Target car on the pole for the race.”

Franchitti, the only driver to participate in all seven Firestone Fast Six sessions this season, will be joined on the front row by Ryan Briscoe, who had set the bar early in the third and final qualifying session with a lap of 1m 16.8485s in the #6 Team Penske car.

"I had a pretty bad practice this morning; I spent more time in the dirt than on the tarmac. But I had a feeling we were in decent shape going into qualifying. The car felt good from the get-go and got better and I was right back into the groove,” Briscoe noted.

“I felt confident going through the session with our strategy on tyres. I could have gone quicker in the Firestone Fast Six, but I just didn't get a clean lap together and I had a locking issue with the brakes.

“I was frustrated I couldn't get the pole, but Dario was really quick and he certainly did a good job on used reds."

Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti will start on row two while Hideki Mutoh and Graham Rahal round out the top six.

"Qualifying was pretty exciting today, and I think the race shouldn't be much different,” said Castroneves. “I'm a bit disappointed as I thought the Team Penske car was better than third place, and I'm sure Ryan feels the same way. During the first session, we had a problem with our fuel pressure which the team was able to fix for Q2. Then in Q2, we had an issue with the throttle, which they were able to fix for Q3, so I guess taking all of this into consideration we did ok. The important thing is that the car is great and I'm feeling confident going into tomorrow's race."

"It wasn't that bad of a qualifying effort for the Venom boys,” Andretti added. “We're getting there. We're just learning how to use the red tyres to our advantage."

Points' leader Scott Dixon will line up tenth on the grid, behind Tony Kanaan, Franck Montagny, who is making his IndyCar Series debut this weekend, and Mike Conway.

"Qualifying was pretty dismal, actually. I'm really frustrated. We've been chasing a brake problem from this morning,” Dixon explained. “Every time you really start to push the car and you go to brake later, we would lock the rears brakes. We could see that there was something going on, we're just not sure what it is.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Indy Racing League. 9 May 2009. Pole Day. Indianapolis 500. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indianapois, Indiana. Dario Franchitti.
Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Briscoe go wheel-to-wheel during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon streaks across the start/finish line during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon crosses the start/finish line during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power sits on pit lane prior to the evening Open Test session at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud preps on pit lane prior to the evening Open Test session at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand prior to track activity during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon leaves pit lane (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Crossing the start/finish line during testing (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Cars jostling for position through turn 2 during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Racewa (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The confetti flies as Scott Dixon celebrates winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon takes the twin chequered flags to win the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates his win in Victory Circle after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)

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Joe - Unregistered

August 23, 2009 11:19 AM

Scary accident no doubt. Viso was lucky to escape injury too seemingly thanks to his reflexes! Nelson also has a broken right leg in addition to the open fracture on his left foot. Here's hoping for full & speedy recoveries to both Nelson & Will after that hard hit :(

Rick - Unregistered

August 23, 2009 5:21 PM

I've watched video of this accident numerous times. Both drivers (especially Philippe) are lucky to be alive. Similar to Zanardi's Champ Car accident in 2001, only on a road course.



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