Dario Franchitti led the Honda contingent in qualifying Friday for the Suntrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia, and will start fifth in the second consecutive Saturday-night race of the 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.
Franchitti won twice on short ovals [one mile or less] in 2004, and was a dominant force in this season’s event at Phoenix International Raceway – leading 52 laps in the only previous short-track race of 2005. Two of Franchitti’s Andretti Green Racing teammates, Bryan Herta and series points leader Dan Wheldon, will start sixth and seventh. However, defending series champion Tony Kanaan crashed in Turn 2 during his qualifying run. Kanaan escaped injury, but will start last in the 22-car field.
Fernandez Racing teammates Kosuke Matsuura and Scott Sharp will start 11th and 12th, while Buddy Rice led the three-car Rahal Letterman Racing effort and will start 14th, followed by teammates Vitor Meira in 15th and rookie points leader Danica Patrick, 21st. Roger Yasukawa qualified 18th in the single Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry.
Saturday’s 250-lap race, the seventh round in the 17-race IRL season, begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live television coverage on ESPN2.
Dario Franchitti (#27 Arca/Ex Andretti Green Racing Honda) fifth-fastest qualifier:
“quick in practice, and it was a decent qualifying run. Maybe I could have gotten a little more out of the car in Turn 1, but I was pretty much on the limit in Turn 3. We’re starting near the front, and I think we’ve got a pretty good race car. We always seem to run pretty well on the short ovals, so I’m optimistic about our chances tomorrow night.”