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Franchitti tops Power for Toronto pole

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Dario Franchitti earned his third consecutive pole in the IZOD IndyCar Series after edging Will Power in the closing seconds of Saturday's qualifying session for the Honda Indy Toronto.

Franchitti, the three-time defending series champion and winner of last year's race at Toronto, made a lap around the 1.75-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit in 59.3510 seconds for his 29th career pole.

Franchitti also started on the pole in last month's races at Milwaukee and Iowa, but the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver failed to finish both of those events. In fact, he didn't even start the Iowa race when he blew his engine during the pace laps and ended up finishing last in the 25-car field. Franchitti placed 19th at Milwaukee after crashing late in that event.

Power, the current points leader and three-time race winner on the road/street courses this season, held the provisional pole with a lap at 59.3757 seconds until Franchitti bumped him from the top spot. Franchitti's lap was 0.0247 seconds quicker.

"The times have been so close all weekend, but we're happy to be at the top," Franchitti said. "That was a really hard-earned pole. Track position will be very important, and it is great be up front in Toronto again."

In last year's race at Toronto, Power started on the pole but ended up finishing 24th after Franchitti made contact and spun him out in the late going.

"We're happy to start on the front row, but we all know what this race is about, a lot of crashing and bashing, so we'll stay out of that and be in good shape," Power said.

Franchitti also won the 2009 IndyCar race at Toronto as well as the 1999 Champ Car event here.

Justin Wilson, who set a new track record of 59.0663 seconds in round two, finished third in the "Fast Six" final round. Sebastian Bourdais qualified fourth, followed by Franchitti's teammate, Scott Dixon.

Canadian Alex Tagliani placed sixth in qualifying, but Tagliani received a 10- grid spot penalty due to an engine change during Friday's practice sessions. He will start 16th.

Toronto native James Hinchcliffe and Simona de Silvestro were also penalized with a loss of 10 positions on the grid for engine changes. Hinchcliffe finished ninth in qualifying, while de Silvestro placed 21st.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has been on a hot streak by winning Milwaukee and Iowa, missed advancing into the Fast Six by just 0.0684 seconds. Hunter-Reay qualified seventh but moved up one spot in the starting lineup due to Tagliani's penalty. He had made it into the final round of qualifying in four of the last five road/street course races.

"We just missed it by a little bit," he said. "We had a little bit too much understeer, but tomorrow's the only day that counts, so I think we're looking good for the race."

Franchitti enters this race eighth in the point standings, as he trails Power by 70 points. Hunter-Reay is just three markers out of the lead.

Sunday's 85-lap race in Toronto is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (ET).

07/07 16:02:19 ET


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