Savvy Strategy Gets Franchitti Sonoma Pole


“Our car was quite tough to drive on Blacks, but on Reds, it was reasonable,” Power said. “So I’m pretty happy; I think the Ganassi guys have definitely got a leg up on everybody here.

“I also want to win the race It’s a team – team effort. You’ve got to try ‑ for Helio to win the championship; if I’m in a position to help him, I most definitely will. But I also want to win the race.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified fourth for Andretti Autosport with a lap at 1:18.1314 (109.892 mph) in a Dallara/Chevrolet.

“It’s a pretty disappointing day for us,” Hunter-Reay said. “I think we had a pretty good pace leading up to it and then the wind shifted, and it’s the same for everybody. Just made for really difficult conditions and we just didn’t capitalize on it. It was tough to get the lap time out of the cars; it was for everybody, but the Ganassi cars have been one step above and yet Dario did what we did in Mid‑Ohio, used Reds in the second group or second session, and I think that’s where he won the pole. Congratulations to those guys. They have been super quick.

“We are a little disappointed to start fourth, but all considering, we can definitely work from there. So now we’ve got to go re‑engineer it and make it a race car instead of a qualifying car.

“The wind change is massive here. It surprised me. It’s more like the wind effect that you would have in an oval when the wind shifts. And here, it goes one way, the car is hooked up; it goes the other way, you’re out to lunch. It’s amazing how much the wind changes and how much different you have to drive the car when it happens. You’ve got to completely change it. It’s a different racetrack; I mean, different turning points, different braking points. It’s amazing the changes.”

Castroneves qualified fifth as the points leader had a fast time of 1:18.1766 (109.828 mph) in a Dallara/Chevrolet for Team Penske.

“It was interesting, when the track, the wind changed, I’m not sure if the guys already said that, which I believe they did,” Castroneves said. “Everyone said it so I’m no different. Plus, the first group was really brutal because of different tires, different series running out there. So, man, I struggled just to pass the first group.

“But thank God for the guys ‑ they did a great job breaking from the right point on the setup of the car, and we were able to position ourselves for the Q2 and the Q3. We just took another session as a test and paid off, as well. So I mean, it didn’t pay off ‑ to hold up the Ganassi guys, but, well, we are right there. We are right there in the area that we need to be, and, well, let’s see now, what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Charlie Kimball qualified sixth for a career‑best qualifying result at Sonoma. His previous best was 21st in 2012. Kimball gave team owner Chip Ganassi all three cars in the Firestone Fast Six with a lap at 1:18.2009 (109.794 mph).

“I’m really proud of the guys, the whole Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew, because in the test we were not quite as quick as we wanted to be and even in practice yesterday, the speed wasn’t quite there,” Kimball said. “I think one thing they have proved, to me, at least, I don’t know if everyone else sees it, but all year, they really dig deep when we need to to overcome a lot of issues.

“So to see the progression, and to end up inside the Top‑6, is definitely good. The car was there, and I think it was there for another couple of tenths, which would have moved us up a couple of spots. Even in the Fast Six, even coming from my previous results here at Sonoma Raceway, is impressive, and I’m very proud of the guys for that.”

Kimball also won the previous IZOD IndyCar Series race – the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on August 4 for his first career victory.

“Coming off Mid‑Ohio, it’s nice to have that confidence and that momentum, for sure,” Kimball said. “I think one of my favorite quotes from the team owner, when asked about what his favorite race win was, he said, “The next one.” I admit, Mid‑Ohio was great, but it was; and now we are looking forward to trying to get a great result tomorrow.”