DARIO FRANCHITTI/Target Chip Ganassi Racing is on pole for Sunday’s Indy Racing League’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway, with a time of 1:16.7987/107.955 mph. This despite his four-wheel off and on in Turn Two very close to the end of the session. It was thought at the time that the Scot’s agricultural detour would keep him from getting the pole. But, he was able to somehow scrub off the dirt. Franchitti said he was impressed how much grip there was on the ‘old’ tires. It didn’t hurt him, but didn’t help GRAHAM RAHAL/Newman Haas Lanigan Racing, who was running right behind Franchitti. Rahal qualified sixth of six.
Team Penske Racing drivers RYAN BRISCOE and HELIO CASTRONEVES were second and third. MARCO ANDRETTI and HIDEKI MUTOH of Andretti Green Racing were fourth and fifth.
Franchitti has qualified in the top six at all IRL races this year. He currently is third in the standings, 19 points behind his teammate and points leader, SCOTT DIXON. Briscoe is second, three points behind Dixon, who won the 2007 IRL race at Infineon.
Newcomer to the series, FRANCK MONTAGNY of France, was the top Rookie in eighth place. He is running in a fifth car for Andretti Green Racing.
There are two females in this race, DANICA PATRICK/Andretti Green Racing, who will start eleventh; and MILKA DUNO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing starts twenty-second.
Twenty-two of the 24 entries will start the race. Conquest Racing has withdrawn its entry for NELSON PHILIPPE, who was injured Saturday morning in practice. Team owner, ERIC BACHELART, said “We never want to have to pull out of a race, especially under these circumstances. While we regret not being able to participate in this weekend’s event, the most important thing is that Nelson will be alright. It was a scary incident and we wish both Nelson and Will speedy recoveries.”
Franchitti said he was feeling the pressure of the short two-day race format, on top of Saturday morning’s accident.
The weather was warm and sunny, with a stiff breeze which helped cut the temperature 15 degrees from Friday’s 93F.
The top six drivers in the third and final round of Qualifying represented four teams. They all ran the red (option) tires.
Franchitti has a lot of great sponsors, but said he never has seen a sponsor who used its sponsorship to become so involved. “Going into Target House, you see how good your life is after you see the kids who are fighting for their lives.”
Sunday’s race starts at 2:30 PM PDT and will be aired live on VERSUS TV