Saving his best for last

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “It would mean a lot to win this one.” As it would Scheckter. “I’m almost in tears here with Chevrolet going,” Scheckter said, “especially with how much power we’ve got. It would be great (to get a win), it would be really great. If we could get a win in their last race, it would be really good.” That could be said for the other 20 drivers in the field. Although Dan Wheldon has the championship locked up, there are other battles for positions in the points race. Wheldon, who has won six races this season, is seventh on the grid. Today’s race – set for a 12:50 p.m. green-flag start on ESPN – is the season finale for the series. It also is the final IRL race scheduled at the speedway and the last race in which Chevrolet will supply engines to IndyCar teams. “We’re happy with the car and that run,” said Franchitti, a member of the four-car Andretti Green Racing team. “Qualifying on these types of tracks is more to do with the engine guys and our engineers; they hit it right, and the engine was really, really strong. FONTANA – Battling a troublesome wind, Dario Franchitti put together his finest qualifying effort in seven races at California Speedway and will be on the pole for today’s Toyota Indy 400. Franchitti zipped around the two-mile track in 32.8171 seconds, 219.398 mph, to edge Tomas Scheckter’s 218.92 mph. It was Franchitti’s first pole of the season and his second in his four-year Indy Racing League career. It was enough to set an IndyCar Series record of 16 top-10 starts this season. center_img “We just don’t seem to be very quick,” said Wheldon, also part of the AGR team. “I’m sure our team is good enough to make sure we have a reasonable car in the race, I’m just not sure how good the car will be.” Franchitti’s other AGR teammate Tony Kanaan, the 2004 series champ, is 26 points ahead of Sam Hornish Jr. in the scrap for second. Thirty-six points separate Franchitti, Helio Castroneves and Scott Sharp for fourth, and Vitor Meira, Bryan Herta, Scheckter and Patrick Carpentier are within 26 points of each other in the fight for seventh. Kanaan is seventh spots behind Hornish on the grid. “We really struggle in qualifying as a team,” Kanaan said, “but we are all on different setups; that’s why you see all of us quick at different times. If you look at our qualifying setups, they are all different. Nothing is similar. We know we have a good race car, so we’re not too worried.” A big story line centers around rookie Danica Patrick, who will sit outside Hornish on the second row. Hornish posted a speed of 218.602 mph, and Patrick was fourth fastest at 218.199. “The wind changed so much, and our strategy was definitely a two-gear strategy, and I had to leave it in the top gear the whole time because fifth gear was too short,” Patrick said. “We took a chance, and the wind wasn’t doing what we thought it was doing. “I thought we had a good chance for the pole. I’m disappointed, but I have won three poles this year. I was looking for the rookie record (four). But now I’d take a win in my rookie year. This track is like many of the tracks we have raced this year and have been competitive (on). I think we will have a chance to win, but so will Buddy (Rice) and Vitor.” Hornish has won two of the three IndyCar Series races at the speedway. “Once we got the gearing right, the Marlboro Team Penske car was exactly where we needed it to be for qualifying,” Hornish said. “You can win from anywhere on the grid, but it is always nice to start up front to avoid any problems on the start. “The race is what counts, and the speedway has always been good to me. I’d love to end the season with another win here.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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