Franchitti Wins Pole For Finale

Dario Franchitti won his first Marlboro Pole Award of the season and second of his IRL IndyCar Series career to earn the right to lead the field for Sunday’s TOYOTA Indy 400 season finale at California Speedway.

Franchitti ran a lap of 32.8171 seconds, 219.398 mph on the two-mile oval in his ArcaEx Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara to give Andretti Green Racing its fifth pole of the season.

Franchitti’s run knocked Tomas Scheckter off the top spot, relegating him to second with a lap of 219.902 in his Pennzoil Panther Chevrolet after he led most of the session.

Starting in the second row will be Marlboro Team Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr., 218.602 mph in a Toyota, and rookie of the year Danica Patrick, 218.199 mph in the Rahal Letterman Honda.

In addition to closing the 2005 campaign, the race will be a number of other “lasts.”

The event will be the final appearance of the Chevrolet powerplant in IRL competition. In addition to Scheckter, Panther teammate Tomas Enge will start 11th and ABC Supply Foyt Racing’s A.J. Foyt IV will start 18th.

It will also be the final scheduled race for the series at California Speedway. The IRL will trim three races from its schedule in 2006, seeking for an earlier close to the campaign, and was unable to accommodate a date at California Speedway. Other venues not returning for 2006 are Phoenix International Raceway and soon-to-be-shuttered Pikes Peak International Raceway.

The Toyota Indy 400 will also be the final race as an IRL regular for Anthony Foyt. The grandson of four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt will leave his family’s open-wheel team to try his hand at NASCAR’s Busch Series, joining that division for its final four races of 2005 in addition to a full schedule in 2006.

The Toyota Indy 400 will take the green flag at 12:45 p.m. local time after a final practice at 9 a.m. The race will be televised live on ESPN (3:30 EDT).

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