DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda took the pole with a time of 1:17.5271/110.748 mph. This is his fourth pole position this year and thirty-third overall.
Franchitti’s lap didn’t break the existing qualifying track record of 1:17.2709/111.116 mph set last year by WILL POWER/No.12 Team Penske Chevrolet. The Aussie qualified third behind Franchitti’s teammate, SCOTT DIXON/No.9. Honda.
Fourth through sixth were RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.1 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet-the top American driver; HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Team Penske Racing; and CHARLIE KIMBALL/No.83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
All drivers ran the Reds (Firestone alternate tires) in the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session.
The ambient temperatures were 79 F/26 C, with the track temperature was 111 F/44 C. The wind was North to South, opposite from the morning session. All of the drivers mentioned the uncertainty caused by the changeable wind directions.
Franchitti gave credit to Honda “to figure out our weaknesses. Honda definitely helped us.” He admitted to ‘screwing up Turn Six twice. It has been a crap week. First Floyd (Ganassi) passing and then the wife of ANDY BROWN, a former Ganassi engineer.”
The top Rookie was TRISTAN VAUTIER/No.55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in P14. JR HILDEBRAND/No.98 Bryan Herta Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian Honda will start eighteenth, Rookie JAMES DAVISON/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda qualified twenty-first, and RYAN BRISCOE/No.4 Panther Racing Chevrolet gridded twenty-second. Newbie LUCAS LUHR/No.97 RW Motorsports/SFHR Honda will start at the back, two seconds plus behind Franchitti. But he’s having fun.
Left to Right – JR Hildebrand/No.98 Honda; Ryan Briscoe/No.4 Panther Racing Chevrolet; and Lucas Luhr/No.97 Honda. All photos by Mike/Jeff Burghar.
Franchitti and Power were asked about Team Orders at the Post-Qualifying Conference. Franchitti said “Team orders – whatever I can do to help Scott win the championship but I really want to win this race. I’ll do what I’m told. I’m just doing what I do every week. Charlie and Scotty have won a race. I want to win one too.” Dixon is currently second, 31 points behind Castroneves.
Power’s response to the question: “I also want to win the race, but anything I can do to help Helio to win the championship, it’s a team effort. If I’m in a position to help him, I will, but I also want to win the race.” Power sits eleventh in the standings, 148 points behind the leader.
Power only sustained very minor front wing damage from his morning session traffic accident with E.J. VISO/No.5 KV Racing Technology, who had even less damage. Both cars were ready well before Qualifying.
Classy move by Andretti Autosport, with the special decals on all its cars in memory of the late FLOYD GANASSI, father of CHIP. Floyd passed away this past week. The Ganassi cars also had the decals.
The elder Ganassi was remembered fondly by many with whom he came in contact through the years. He spent a lot of time at the track and was instrumental in launching Chip’s career as a team owner, after being a driver.