Franchitti secures Long Beach IndyCar pole (VIDEO)

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Dario Franchitti took his first IZOD IndyCar Series pole since Toronto last year, with the 30th of his career on the streets of Long Beach, Calif.

Franchitti edged Ryan Hunter-Reay, who’s often strong at Long Beach, by slightly more than one half a tenth around the 1.968-mile circuit. Franchitti’s 1:07.2379 beat RHR’s 1:09.2934, with Will Power just behind in P3. Power has now qualified first, second and third in succession.

Takuma Sato, Mike Conway and Helio Castroneves completed the Firestone Fast Six on the grid. Sato has now made the Fast Six in two of the first three races, and would have been quick enough to do so in Barber before a penalty. Conway’s return to the series on road and street circuits with RLL has been very smooth, in the top five of each session thus far, and also posted the fastest lap throughout qualifying of 1:07.1937 in the second round of qualifying.

Those knocked out in Q2 included James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, E.J. Viso, Graham Rahal and JR Hildebrand.

UPDATE: The bottom four on the grid were in positions 24-27 because of penalties issued by IndyCar. Marco Andretti, Justin Wilson, Scott Dixon and Oriol Servia had lost each of their two fastest laps.

Andretti was issued one for blocking in pit lane and Wilson had issues with proper stickering on his rear wing. Meanwhile Dixon spun in Turn 1, which forced Servia off line into the tire barriers, and both cars lost their best laps.

Servia’s Panther DRR team appealed the penalty, and it was rescinded by INDYCAR. He will now start 18th. A further update will come in a later post on MotorSports Talk.

A rundown of the crashes from practice are below. Live streaming for Sunday’s race will be available online at http://stream.nbcsports.com/liveextra/.

IZOD IndyCar Series – Toyota GP of Long Beach

Starting Lineup

Row 1
10-Dario Franchitti
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay

Row 2
12-Will Power
14-Takuma Sato

Row 3
17-Mike Conway
3-Helio Castroneves

Row 4
27-James Hinchcliffe
11-Tony Kanaan

Row 5
83-Charlie Kimball
5-E.J. Viso

Row 6
15-Graham Rahal
4-JR Hildebrand

Row 7
16-James Jakes
2-AJ Allmendinger

Row 8
7-Sebastien Bourdais
67-Josef Newgarden

Row 9
77-Simon Pagenaud
22-Oriol Servia

Row 10
55-Tristan Vautier
78-Simona de Silvestro

Row 11
6-Sebastian Saavedra
98-Alex Tagliani

Row 12
18-Ana Beatriz
20-Ed Carpenter

Row 13
19-Justin Wilson
25-Marco Andretti

Row 14
9-Scott Dixon

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F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

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Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.