It was even an interesting day for the pole winner, who had to deal with a variety of issues before finding his pace.
“Four laps into practice this morning, I got caught out, the brakes were heating up, didn’t catch the car fast enough when it sort of turned about 90 right into the wall going into I think turn eight,” Franchitti said. “I just wasn’t fast enough to catch it. We took the right front corner off. The Target boys had a busy morning rebuilding the car. So I really had no experience of the track really apart from what I had when he last raced here, that layout.
“Then, I’m sitting in the car, it starts raining. I’m like, Okay, this is going to be really interesting. Managed to get through that. The second session was drying. Got through that one. At the end I had no expectation and with a 10-spot grid penalty, just went out and pushed as hard as I could every lap. Through turn eight the last lap I got crossed up in the middle, almost hit the wall, lost a bit of time. Ultimately it was good enough. Got to thank the Target boys for turning the car.
“I’m delighted to have gotten the pole here, especially after this morning.”
It will be interesting to see the style of racing on Saturday compared to Sunday because drivers have to be careful not to crash the cars in the race or else their crews will be working all night to repair the car in time for Sunday’s second race.
Franchitti, however, doesn’t expect any soft-pedaling in Saturday’s race.
“Doubtful – very doubtful,” said the Scotsman. “These things can be rebuilt quite quickly. I think both races will be aggressive. This track, I heard Ryan Hunter-Reay say it, by its nature requires quite an aggressive style all the time. You’re really on edge the whole way round. So I don’t see one race being more aggressive than the other.”
And Franchitti would love to put to rest last Sunday’s Indy 500 when he finished 23rd after crashing with just three laps to go and was never a factor in the 500-Mile Race.
“That was a combination of many factors,” Franchitti said of his most recent Indy experience. “Some were definitely at our door as far as the Target team, aero setup, we didn’t get it right. Honda was at a disadvantage last week at Indy. We were just never in the hunt.
“It’s a much different track here. Kind of like Brazil was different — street course tire, mechanical thing, the engines, a lot different. I’m glad we’re up front here. But last week, as I say, yeah, we weren’t happy. We were not happy in any way, shape or form with our performance. But that’s what it takes to win a race or certainly a championship.
“You’ve got to be strong on all these types of tracks and you’ve got to have perfect days, and we didn’t.”