Franchitti tops in qualifying for race 1 at Detroit

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Updated: 5/31/2013 7:19 pm

Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Dario Franchitti won Friday's qualifying for the for the first of two IndyCar Series races this weekend at Detroit's Belle Isle Park.

Franchitti is credited with winning the pole for Saturday's 70-lap race, but the four-time IndyCar champion will have to start 11th due to a 10-grid spot penalty for an unapproved engine change at Indianapolis.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver made a lap around the 2.36-mile, 13-turn Belle Isle circuit in 1 minute, 19.3311 seconds for his second pole of the season and the 31st of his IndyCar career. His first pole this year came in the April 21 race in Long Beach, Calif., where he finished a season-best fourth.

Earlier in the day, Franchitti had limited practice time when he made contact with the wall and damaged the front end of his car.

"I think I was a longshot to get through Q1," Franchitti said. "I did four laps in practice this morning. It was interesting obviously with the rain in the first (qualifying) session, getting through in that, and then the drying track and fully drive in the end, so we had all the conditions there.

"I have to thank the engineering group. We had a really tough Indianapolis and to back with a pole is great, obviously with a 10-spot grid penalty. I'll do the best from where we start."

Franchitti finished 23rd in the Indianapolis 500 after crashing in the closing laps. His former teammate, Tony Kanaan, won the race for the first in his 12th attempt.

E.J. Viso qualified second with a lap in 1:19.5572, but Viso moved up to the top starting position due to Franchitti's penalty.

"I think it has given me some good chances to stay in the front and be sure I'm going to have a competitive car," Viso said.

Mike Conway will share the front row with Viso. Conway is making his second start of the season, driving the No. 18 car for Dale Coyne Racing.

James Jakes and Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending series champion, will start from row 2, while Alex Tagliani and rookie Tristan Vautier will roll off from the third row.

Ryan Briscoe, who replaced J.R. Hildebrand in Panther Racing's No. 4 car for this weekend, qualified 22nd. Hildebrand was released from the team on Thursday.

Qualifying for race 2 will take place on Saturday morning at 9:15 a.m. ET. The session will be split into two groups. Each group runs for 12 minutes, with five minutes of guaranteed green-flag time. Group 1 will consist of odd- numbered positions on the practice time sheet, while even-numbered positions will make up group 2.

Alex Tagliani was quickest in Friday's practice.

The starting field positions for race 2 will be determined by the best time ranking of the two groups combined, from fastest to slowest. The fastest qualifier earns the pole position.

Saturday's race is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET. Sunday's event is slated for the same time.

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