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Franchitti grabs pole for Iowa night race

In a heat of two halves, the top four had quickly pulled away from Charlie Kimball, Katherine Legge, Simon Pagenaud and James Jakes who all had their own private battle - well ahead of HVM's Simona de Silvestro who was as far off the pace with the Lotus engine as ever.

Jakes pulled off a nice late-heat move on Pagenaud, who then slowed in the final laps and was even passed by de Silvestro in the last seconds as both cars were lapped by the leaders. Pagenaud will start from dead last on the grid, as he is also another driver added to the list of those serving an engine change, after the Schmidt-Hamilton team opted to take the hit now rather than at Toronto where the French sportscar star is hoping for a strong road course outing.

Heat 3

The third and final heat was also the top eight pole shootout, with Marco Andretti leading Dario Franchitti to the green flag at the second attempt (after a first was waved off) at the start of the 30 laps.

Andretti blasted away at the front with Franchitti already struggling to keep up, while further back another Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe was also immediately on the pace and up to fourth past the two Penske cars of Ryan Briscoe and Will Power.

Franchitti seemed to smoothly pick up his pace as the cars settled into the groove, and soon caught and went side-by-side with Andretti on lap 8 - and completed the pass for the lead, leaving Marco fading back into the clutches of Helio Castroneves, who eventually took second spot off him at the midway point of the 30-lap heat.

Hinchcliffe's initial devastating pace had also quickly waned, leaving him battling side-by-side for fourth position with Ryan Briscoe coming right back onto him in a fight that lasted almost the entire rest of the heat. Hinchcliffe had just enough of an edge with track position to fend off Briscoe's multiple attempts at passing.

Will Power shadowed this battle for fourth place but seemed content to wait in case Hinchcliffe and Briscoe took each other out - which came close to happening on several occasions, culminating in Briscoe tapping the back of the car on the penultimate lap. Hinchcliffe subsequently went over to Briscoe to make peace over the incident.

Further back, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon seemed to realise that they were off the pace of the group and settled for a safe run at the back.

Full heat results and provisional starting grid available.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Dario Franchitti #50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing during practice for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. 12-27 May, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. (c) 2012 Dan R. Boyd LAT Photo USA (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Dario Franchitti at Motegi. [Photo credit: IndyCar Media]
Marco Andretti - Andretti Autosport [credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar/Bret Kelly]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar/Bret Kelly]
Simon Pagenaud - Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar Series]
Simon Pagenaud - Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar Series]
Simon Pagenaud - Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar Series]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Richard Dowdy]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Richard Dowdy]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Ryan Hunter-Reay - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: IndyCar media/Chris Jones]
Marco Andretti - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Simon Pagenaud on track during the 2016 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates capturing the pole with the fastest lap Saturday, March 12, 2016 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. The four Penske Chevrolet`s were the fastest in qualifying and Chevrolet had the five fastest cars. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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