Dario Franchitti put plenty of cars between himself and IndyCar points leader Will Power for the start of Sunday’s race at the Milwaukee Mile — and he didn’t need a lottery to do it.
Franchitti won the pole position Saturday with an average speed of 170.841 mph, followed by Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon. Power qualified all the way back in 17th.
”Will obviously didn’t have a good qualifying there,” Franchitti said. ”But trust me, he’ll be there tomorrow.”
Franchitti was fuming last weekend after the starting order for the second of twin 275-mile races at Texas Motor Speedway was determined not by speed, but according to a lottery. Power drew the No. 3 starting spot while Franchitti drew 28th, and Power won the race while Franchitti – who won the first 275-mile race – finished seventh in the second race.
Franchitti was unhappy that the luck of the draw could end up affecting the championship.
”The first race last weekend was based on speed, he was starting behind us, too,” Franchitti said.
Power has a 21-point lead over Franchitti in the series points standings going into Sunday.
It was a rough day for Simona De Silvestro, who was taken to a hospital for further evaluation after she crashed during her qualifying run. A series spokesperson said she was awake and alert.
”Hopefully she’s OK,” Franchitti said. ”You tend not to have small accidents around here, so I’m hoping she’s all right.”
She spun and slammed the outside wall hard, then went skidding into the inside wall.
Last month, De Silvestro burned her hands in a crash during Indianapolis 500 practice and has been driving with bandages.
Castroneves said his second-place qualifying effort was another sign that his racing fortunes were turning around after a miserable start to the season. But that doesn’t mean his qualifying run was easy, as Castroneves had a hard time keeping his car under control.
”It wasn’t easy,” Castroneves said. ”Let’s put it this way: After the first lap, I said, ‘Can we come in now?’ They said no, you’ve got to keep going one more lap.”
Franchitti wasn’t exactly comfortable during his run, either.
”In the middle of three and four, the car snapped sideways on the first lap, which caught me by surprise,” Franchitti said. ”I was able to still keep it flat. The second lap, I knew it was coming, but it wasn’t any easier or any more pleasant.”
Drivers said the wind was a factor, making cars unstable in Turn 4.
”I think it’s the wind,” Franchitti said. ”Because normally, with the wind blowing another direction, Turn 2 is the nightmare. The wind could change tomorrow and we’ll all be struggling through (Turn) 2.”
Franchitti expects IndyCar to put on a good show at Milwaukee, which is back on the schedule after financial problems prevented the track from hosting major racing events last year.
”I’ve love to see a great crowd tomorrow because I think this track, it’s a wonderful place. We all enjoy coming here. It puts on a great race. I think for the fans, it’s one of those things where you show up (and say) ‘Wow.”’