Saturday was a hot and sunny day in New Hampshire. While the stands were more filled than Friday, it is still a light turnout for qualifying. Speeds were slower today for most of practice than they were on Thursday, however later in the day enough Firestone rubber was laid down to correct this.
The speeds were increased just in time for qualifying today. To no ones surprise Dario Franchitti snagged the pole position. What was a slight upset was Oriol Servia was P1 most of the session before being bumped to P2 by Franchitti.
This is Dario’s 26th INDYCAR pole, moving past Paul Tracy for 9th on the all time list. Both Franchitti and Servia talked about the limited groove they have to run in the track. “At its best, I would say its about a groove and a half wide.” stated the defending Series Champion Franchitti.
When asked if he felt they could widen the groove on race-day, “ I would say no, because the way it feels. But, at the same time, every oval we go to like Milwaukee didn’t seem we were going to or even Iowa. And then when it comes race-day just because you’re forced to go there you end up cleaning it.” said Servia. He also said he really hopes so, and it would not be the first time he would be surprised by this.
Dario talked about how the first lane felt like it had negative banking, and the second lane felt pretty good. The second lane Dario also said is where everyone is running for the most part. He blamed much of the current grip issues on the rubber put on the track by the ACT and NASCAR Modified Series.
Franchetti also pointed to the fact that now with double file re-starts, they try to sweep the track more which could also help build a second groove during the race.
Third is Tony Kanaan who did not appear at the post qualifying press conference. Followed by rookie and Newman/Haas teammate to Servia, James Hinchcliffe. The top running Andretti Autosport car was Ryan Hunter-Reay. Followed by the top Penske entry of Ryan Briscoe who will start P6 on Sunday.
Other notables include; Scott Dixon in P7, Takuma Sato in P8, Castroneves in P9, Will Power will be P13, Danica Patrick P15, Tomas Scheckter filling in for Justin Wilson will start P18, Graham Rahal who was fast in practice will start P23 due to a slip up during his run, P25 is Ed carpenter, with Simona de Silvestro the slowest to make runs at P26. Simona told IMS radio after her run she is lacking confidence which is her biggest problem now.
One driver who did not have a qualifying attempt was Pippa Mann in the #30 Rahal Letterman Racing entry. During the second practice session, Pippa was high as she exited turn two and collided with the wall. The car was a mangled mess, with Pippa needing help out of the car and getting to the stretcher. She was then transported by ambulance to a local hospital for further evaluation. Pippa was released but is not cleared to drive,her car was being packed on the transporter. She will have an MRI monday on her back and neck in Indianapolis. It was her fourth spin in as many days here at New Hampshire.