Well, turns out the lack of practice on a green circuit in Sao Paolo, the silly season musical chairs, and the overall talent level of the Izod Indycar drivers has produced some good results for fans during qualifying for the first race of the 2010 season.
After the track grinding was completed overnight, drivers reported no issues with the previously slick Sambodrome section of the track. Warmup was dusty due to the grinding but the end result was qualifying times about 5 seconds faster then practice times yesterday.
Dario Franchitti took the pole for todays race on the streets of Sao Paolo with a time of 1:27:73. Surprisingly, Dario was the only true championship contender from 2009 to make the Firestone Fast 6.
The surprise of the session was Alex Tagliani and his FAZZT Race Team who are participating in their first Izod Indycar race ever. For a team that wasn't even truly formed 5 months ago, they have managed their first front row start and Tagliani has a great opportunity to put his B&W Dallara in victory lane.
Here is what Alex had to say about his teams first Firestone Fast 6.
"This was a huge team effort. Qualifying is just pure speed and the time to show what the Bowers and Wilkins FAZZT Race team is capable of. We came here with confidence but we were a little bit nervous like passing our first exam. We knew we had studied hard and did everything that we had to do but it is when you get to the race track that you can compare your self to others. I think it's a relief now, we broke the ice and we know where we stand. It's a tribute to all of the work that the guys have done. It's not just about building a car to go race, it's about building a team. From last September to now it shows what a good group of people we have built. I want to give a big thank you to the Bowers and Wilkins people who are here at the inaugural event for the IZOD IndyCar Series, what a great result for them! I am hoping we have just as good results for today's race."
Finishing third in qualifying was Justin Wilson in his first race with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Seeing DRR near the front in qualifying is a good sign for the team and puts J-Dub at the front where he belongs.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, also in his first race with a new team will start fourth, right ahead of his teammate and local favorite Tony Kanaan who starts sixth. This could be a sign of the beginning of a resurgence for Andretti Autosport (formerly Andretti-Green Racing) as I cannot recall the last time 2 AGR/AA cars made the Fast 6.
In fifth, Will Power makes his competitive return to American Open-Wheel Racing after his devastating crash with Nelson Philippe at Sonoma in 2009.
Rookies in the field include Takuma Sato at KVRT who starts 10th, Simona de Silvestro at HVM/Team Stargate Worlds who starts 11th, Alex Lloyd at Dale Coyne Racing who starts 15th, Mario Romancini in Conquest Racing's Dallara who starts 20th, and Ana Beatriz in the third Dreyer and Reinbold entry starting 22nd.
With three Ganassi or Penske cars outside of the top five, and other experienced and fast drivers spread throughout the field, it will make for an interesting race with what should probably be a pretty surprising podium.
I'm going to throw it out there, I've got Alex Tagliani as my underdog to take the win, if you can call a second place qualifier an underdog.
However, it will be tough to take the race away from Dario unless he makes a mistake somewhere on the course. He thrives on street circuits and usually doesn't put a wheel wrong.
Make sure you guys tune into Versus in the USA and TSN2 in Canada at 11:30AM EST for the pre-race show with the green flag scheduled to drop at 12:00PM.
It should be an exciting race. It seems as though there are plenty of passing opportunities and drafting opportunities and observers were saying drivers were getting drafts of up to 6 or 7 car lengths to pass during practice.
Make sure you sit down and enjoy the first race of what should be a very exciting 2010 Izod Indycar Series!
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