Franchitti claims pole for Long Beach

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Updated: 4/20/2013 8:28 pm

Long Beach, CA (Sports Network) - Dario Franchitti finally has something to cheer about this season.

After finishing 25th in the first two races and sitting last in the point standings, Franchitti won the pole for Sunday's IndyCar Series race on the streets of Long Beach. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver and four-time series champion posted a lap around the 1.968-mile street circuit in 1 minute, 7.2379 seconds. Franchitti claimed his 30th career IndyCar pole win but his first since last July in Toronto.

"It was nice to go out there and really have a great car and get everything out of it," Franchitti said. "So thank you to everyone on the Target (No. 10) team, because it's been a tough start to the season."

Franchitti is having the worst start to a season in his IndyCar career, as he has accumulated only 10 points. His last victory came in the 2012 Indianapolis 500. He has one win at Long Beach, which occurred in 2009.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending IndyCar champion, held the provisional pole with a lap in 1:07.2934 until Franchitti topped it in the closing seconds of the "Fast Six" session. Hunter-Reay will start second. He won at Long Beach from that same starting position in 2010.

"The guys (No. 1 Andretti Autosport team) gave me a great car as always," Hunter-Reay said. "It was close, but today really doesn't count. We will go get them tomorrow. We are starting from the front row, so I think things are looking up for us."

Hunter-Reay started on the pole and won two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Will Power, who won last year's race at Long Beach, qualified third.

"It was good to get to the Fast Six, just because of how close everything is at the moment," Power said. "We got caught out there on the end there. I'm still very happy with third. It's a good starting position."

Takuma Sato will share the second row with Power. Mike Conway, the 2011 Long Beach race winner, and Helio Castroneves, who is the current points leader, will roll off from row three. Conway is making his first start of the season, driving the No. 17 car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

James Hinchcliffe will start seventh, followed by Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and E.J. Viso.

Scott Dixon will have to start from the rear of the 27-car field for causing a red flag in Group 2. Dixon's quickest laps were negated after he spun around and blocked the course. It impeded the progress of Oriol Servia, who slammed into the tire barrier as he tried to avoid hitting Dixon.

"My car was still running, and I'm sure there were yellows waving," Dixon said. "My car was partially blocking the track, but I was pulling away. It is kind of in the middle. It's a hard call, a tough one. I'm sure if Oriol had seen the yellows and slowed down, maybe he would have gotten around. We were solidly in the top-six, and it sucks to go out that way. We will have to fight back from way back tomorrow."

Dixon is currently second in points (-9).

Marco Andretti was also penalized for interference with J.R. Hildebrand. Andretti will start 26th.

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