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

2 Comments

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

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
0 Comments

ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”