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

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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

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.