HOMESTEAD, Fla.—Target Ganassi driver Dario Franchitti captured the pole for the IRL IndyCar Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 9, closing the gap to defending champion, points leader, and teammate Scott Dixon to only four points for the final race of the IRL season.
"Obviously we are pretty happy with what we managed to achieve here,” said Franchitti about winning his fifth pole of the season. "We tested here and we were not that great. We came back to day and we weren’t that happy with the balance, really. Then the engineers went to work and came up with a setup that was great. The first three laps were nearly perfect as far as the balance of the car.
“Tomorrow the hard work begins, because Ryan and Scott are right there, and there are a few other guys that look very, very strong for the race tomorrow."
Scott Dixon wrestled an extremely loose car into second place on the grid. “I think I was turning right as much as I was turning left,” Dixon joked after qualifying. “I made the mistake of actually going stiffer on the rear bar. [Drivers adjust the front and rear anti-roll bars during different parts of each lap to tune the car’s handling characteristics.] I was reaching for the front and got the rear and that made it even more exciting.”
Dixon might regret that mistake. Getting the point for qualifying would have increased his lead over Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe, who is third in points.
Ryan Briscoe is also third on the grid; his Penske car wasn’t performing for him. After throwing away what seemed like an easy win in the IRL IndyCar Japan 300, Briscoe dropped to third in the standings. He had hoped to qualify on the pole as much to deny his competitors the bonus point as to start the race in the best position. Unfortunately, he was half a second off Franchitti’s pace, just twenty-three thousandths behind Dixon.
Of the three drivers, only Ryan Briscoe made any changes in his plans to try to win the pole position bonus point.
“I think the point was maybe most Important to me out of the three of us. We certainly put a lot of focus into it, but you can only do so much.”
The way the points stand, whoever wins the race tomorrow should win the series championship. With a two-point bonus for most laps led, every single lap matters. The race promises to be a good one.
The IRL Firestone Indy 300 starts at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, October fifth. It is part of Miami-Homestead Speedway’s SpeedJam weekend, which featured the final race of the Indy Lights series this evening, and also the Grand Am Grand Prix of Miami, which will decide both the Grand Am Daytona Prototype and the Grand Am GT class championships. The Grand Am race starts at 1:00 P.M.
For ticket information please visit the Homestead-Miami Speedway Web site.