Dariio Franchitti

Franchitti fastest, Viso to start P1 in Detroit IndyCar race 1


Dario Franchitti captured the Verizon P1 Award for the first race in the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Chevrolet Indy Dual at Detroit, after his Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew rebuilt his No. 10 Suave Honda.

Franchitti’s second pole of the year (Long Beach), though, comes with an asterisk – he’ll start 11th because of an unapproved engine change made during the month of May at Indianapolis. Incidentally Franchitti benefited from that situation twice last year, at Long Beach and Edmonton, when Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay had engine changes ahead of races where they qualified on the pole.

“I’m delighted to have gotten the pole here, especially after this morning,” Franchitti said. “At the end I had no expectation. With a 10-spot grid penalty, just went out and pushed as hard as I could every lap. Through Turn 8 the last lap I got crossed up in the middle, almost hit the wall, lost a bit of time. Ultimately it was good enough. I have got to thank the Target boys for turning the car.”

Franchitti did well even to advance in his group from Q1, as he was just sixth place to advance in a wet session.

Behind Franchitti on the timesheets, and the man who will actually lead the field to green in race one, is Andretti Autosport’s E.J. Viso. Viso has equaled his best ever qualifying attempt (second), set in Brazil roughly one month ago.

“Team gave us a pretty competitive car; little by little things are coming together,” said Viso. “I’m excited to be once again in the front row.”

The rest of the Firestone Fast Six qualifiers included Mike Conway, posting a sterling effort in Dale Coyne’s second car, James Jakes in his first ever Fast Six (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), Ryan Hunter-Reay in his best Detroit qualifying effort and Alex Tagliani in his first Fast Six of the season for Barracuda Racing.

Several drivers were caught out on timing in Q2, when the session shifted from yellow to red for Helio Castroneves’ stalled car at Turn 3. Tristan Vautier, Takuma Sato, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Sebastian Saavedra missed the Q2 cut.

On Saturday, IndyCar will set the grid for the second Dual at 9:15 a.m. ET, and have the first race of the doubleheader at 3:30 p.m. ET. The updated tire choices for race one are below, with Firestone’s blacks the primarys and reds the alternate.

IZOD IndyCar Series – Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans 1
Unofficial Starting Lineup

Row 1
5-E.J. Viso (Primary)
18-Mike Conway (Primary)

Row 2
16-James Jakes (Alternate)
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay (Primary)

Row 3
98-Alex Tagliani (Alternate)
55-Tristan Vautier (Alternate)

Row 4
14-Takuma Sato (Primary)
77-Simon Pagenaud (Primary)

Row 5
12-Will Power (Primary)
6-Sebastian Saavedra (Alternate)

Row 6
10-Dario Franchitti* (Alternate)
3-Helio Castroneves (Primary)

Row 7
2-AJ Allmendinger (Primary)
7-Sebastien Bourdais (Primary)

Row 8
9-Scott Dixon (Primary)
19-Justin Wilson (Primary)

Row 9
78-Simona de Silvestro (Alternate)
25-Marco Andretti (Primary)

Row 10
11-Tony Kanaan (Primary)
27-James Hinchcliffe (Primary)

Row 11
4-Ryan Briscoe (Alternate)
20-Ed Carpenter (Primary)

Row 12
15-Graham Rahal* (Primary)
67-Josef Newgarden* (Primary)

Row 13
83-Charlie Kimball* (Primary)

*Denotes 10-spot grid penalty for unapproved engine change

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.