Franchitti Leads AGR Trio
August 25, 2007 | 1:02 P.M. EST
He took a big step toward that needed boost in qualifying Saturday, taming the 2.26-mile road circuit in 1:16.7017, 107.951 mph, and will start from the pole for the third time this season in the No. 27 Canadian Club Honda Dallara.
Franchitti brought along a few friends from Andretti Green Racing whom he hopes will serve as a buffer between himself and Scott Dixon, who has closed to within eight points of the lead with only three races remaining. Danica Patrick matched her career best qualifying effort on a road course by clocking in second, 107.325 mph, in the No. 7 Motorola Honda. She was the only driver to improve their time in the Firestone Fast Six shootout following single car runs. Starting third will be Tony Kanaan in the No. 7 Team 7-11 Honda, who takes a two-race winning streak into the 80-lap event.
Marco Andretti, the fourth Andretti Green Racing driver and the defending race winner, qualified eighth and will join Ryan Hunter-Reay in the fourth row.
"It feels good," Franchitti said. "The track conditions changed a lot from this morning, but they've been fast all weekend. We did it when it counted. It's great to have my teammate up there as well. That should be an advantage at the start."
Helio Castroneves, fastest in each of the three practice sessions, could only manage fourth fastest in qualifying in the No. 3 Team Penske entry and will join Kanaan on the second row.
Dixon qualified fifth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Honda, and will be joined on the third row by Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 6 Team Penske car.
The dominant driver in IndyCar Series road races, the weekend has been an uncharacteristic struggle for Dixon.
"The whole weekend, we've really been struggling," Dixon said. "We decided to go test at Sebring instead of Sonoma with the Indy Pro Series (bonus) test, so that may have hurt us. Hopefully what we did there is going to help us in Detroit. We've just missed it all weekend. It's really hard to get a lap together; the Target car is pretty inconsistent. Maybe with full tanks and a few changes we'll be a little bit better in the race."
Sunday's race begins a three-weekend spring to determing the champion. Following Sunday’s race, only the September 2 race at Belle Isle, Michigan, and September 9 at Chicagoland Speedway remain on the 2007 schedule.