Dario Franchitti took one crucial step to retaining the IZOD IndyCar Series title with pole position at Homestead Motor Speedway.
The 37-year-old Scot picked up the top spot with a 2-lap average speed of 213.187 mph, claiming the extra point in the process and leaving him just 11 points shy of Championship leader Will Power.
It was a Team Chip Ganassi lock out on the front row, with Franchitti partnered by team mate Scott Dixon alongside him, while the second row was occupied by two of the three Penske Racing machines – Power will take the green flag from 3rd and Ryan Briscoe, an encouraging 4th. Qualifying was not quite as fruitful for the final Penske runner – Helio Castroneves registered only 10th in his Honda-powered Dallara.
First out in the session was Dan Wheldon and the Manchester-born driver notched 5th spot in what may be his final race for Panther Racing; only one row ahead of part-time team mate Ed Carpenter (7th). The Panther pair have squeezed former-Minardi driver Justin Wilson into a spot on the outside of the third row.
Tony Kanaan was the fastest of the four Andretti-Autosport entries with the 8th fastest run – next up for the team is Danica Patrick in her green-and-black Go Daddy.com machine (11th), while both Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay had difficult day’s as they picked up 16th and 20th positions respectively.
KV Racing Technology will be going into this weekend’s race desperately hoping that there will not be crash damage to repair and it was the final runner of the day, Takuma Sato, that gave them some hope for the race with a run that placed him in 9th. EJ Viso and Mario Moraes also had decent runs; registering 12th and 13th positions in the process – some hope for a trio of racers that may well be looking for a seat for 2011.
Bertrand Baguette continued his positive form for Conquest Racing as the young Belgian driver grabbed 14th position. His new team mate for this weekend – Sebastian Saavedra may well be disappointed with his run that gave him 24th, but the former-Indy Lights (?) driver will hopefully be able to improve on that in the race itself.
Both Alex Lloyd and Simona de Silvestro are battling for Rookie of the Year honours going into this race, but that pair were outshined by Brazilian pilot Ana Beatriz – this will the fourth outing of the season for Beatriz with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, and she will take the green flag in 15th position. Beatriz, who has performed very well in the few sightings of her this season is the final driver to replace the injured Mike Conway, who has been missing since his crash at the Indianapolis 500 in May.
De Silvestro, meanwhile, placed her HVM provisionally 25th; while Lloyd will get away from 22nd position. Lloyd’s Dale Coyne Racing team mate, Milka Duno, will be making what could be potentially her final start tomorrow from last place.
On the ninth row, fan favourite Sarah Fisher is also lining up for what could be her final race as rumours spread that she may be about to go into full-time team management. The lady from Ohio planted her Fisher Racing car in 17th alongside the Newman-Haas car driven by Graham Rahal (18th). Rahal’s Newman-Haas partner, Hideki Mutoh had a poor session qualifying on the outside of row 13, as the Japanese driver struggled in the Miami evening.
Alex Tagliani qualified his FAZZT Racing machine in 19th position as the Canadian brings his first year as a team owner to a close. Vitor Meira took the inside of row 11 in his AJ Foyt Enterprise’s car, and Raphael Matos rounds off the grid – the Brazilian starts a disappointed 23rd as he aims to put a forgettable season behind him.
Green flag for the final race of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series is tomorrow night at midnight, with coverage starting at 11.15pm (BST) on indycar.com and at 11.30pm (BST) from Sky Sports 4.
Homestead-Miami Speedway, Qualifying (October 1st)
Pos Driver Team Ave Speed (mph)
1. Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing 213.187mph
2. Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 212.908mph
3. Will Power Team Penske 212.580mph
4. Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 212.158mph
5. Dan Wheldon Panther Racing 211.933mph
6. Justin Wilson Dreyer and Reinbold 211.630mph
7. Ed Carpenter Panther/Vision Racing 211.444mph
8. Tony Kanaan Andretti-Autosport 211.392mph
9. Takuma Sato KV Racing 211.355mph
10. Helio Castroneves Team Penske 211.240mph
11. Danica Patrick Andretti-Autosport 211.013mph
12. EJ Viso KV Racing 210.928mph
13. Mario Moraes KV Racing 210.741mph
14. Bertrand Baguette Conquest Racing 210.738mph
15. Ana Beatriz Dreyer and Reinbold 210.715mph
16. Marco Andretti Andretti-Autosport 210.698mph
17. Sarah Fisher Sarah Fisher Racing 210.671mph
18. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas 210.629mph
19. Alex Tagliani FAZZT Racing 210.520mph
20. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti-Autosport 210.030mph
21. Vitor Meira AJ Foyt Enterprises 210.017mph
22. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne Racing 209.433mph
23. Raphael Matos De Ferran/Dragon Racing 209.311mph
24. Sebastian Saavedra Conquest Racing 209.308mph
25. Simona de Silvestro HVM Racing 208.986mph
26. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas 208.579mph
27. Milka Duno Dale Coyne Racing 207.961mph
|2010 IZOD IndyCar Championship (Round 17, Qualifying)|
|1||Will Power (Team Penske)||587|
|2||Dario Franchitti (Chip Ganassi Racing)||576|
|3||Helio Castroneves (Team Penske)||501|
|4||Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing)||497|
|5||Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske)||450|
|6||Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti-Autosport)||426|