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Dixon edges Franchitti to capture pole for second Honda Indy Toronto event

Dario Franchitti of Scotland drives during the practice session for the Toronto Indy in Toronto on Friday July 12 , 2013.

Mark Blinch/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Scott Dixon finds himself in a good position for a third straight IndyCar win.

The New Zealander posted the fastest time in the second round of qualifying Saturday at the Honda Indy Toronto. Dixon won the session in 58.9686 seconds, just finishing ahead of teammate Dario Franchitti, who was second in 59.1905 seconds.

In Friday's qualifying for the first race of the doubleheader event, Franchitti rolled to his fifth career pole position in Toronto, while Dixon qualified sixth for Saturday's opening race. But on Sunday, the two Target Chip Ganassi drivers will start on the front row.

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Last weekend at Pocono, Dixon captured his first victory of the year while Franchitti took third. Following Saturday's qualifying run, Dixon earned his second consecutive victory by capturing the first of two 85-lap races over the 1.75-mile, 11-turn street course at Exhibition Place.

"We're excited after what happened (Friday)," Dixon said. "I messed up on a couple of the corners, which cost us, so I don't think we had the time for Dario.

"But they put in some work on the car (Friday night), making a few adjustments and it's definitely got the speed to drive. It's been a little while since we've been on pole for a road/street course."

Actually, this will be the first 1-2 start for Chip Ganassi since Franchitti had the pole and Dixon was at No. 2 in October 2010 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Dixon earned his 19th career pole, tying him for 12th all-time with Danny Sullivan, but his first since June 2012 at Belle Isle.

There were three rounds of qualifying Friday but just one Saturday. Drivers were split into two groups and the top times from each session determined the starting order for Sunday's race at the circuit's lone Canadian stop this season.

"It's a different rhythm when you're used to doing practice and then qualifying," Franchitti said. "To go straight to qualifying is interesting, and I'm not a morning person.

"On the black tires, I brushed the wall — I more than brushed the wall in Turn 1 and the boys had to replace a toe link and it took them literally a minute and a half to replace. We put the red tires on and away we went. I was pushing as hard as I could and it was a really good lap, actually. We're very happy to have both Target cars on the front row and Scott did a great job to get the pole."

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Penske's Helio Castroneves, the current points leader, will start third with a time of 59.1953 seconds followed by Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending race and series champion, who had a fast lap of 59.3915 seconds.

"We made some big changes to the car (Friday night), which improved our Hitachi Dallara/Chevrolet and we also were able to complete a good lap," Castroneves said. "Now we have to go out there and do this standing start and see what happens."

Castroneves claimed his best qualifying performance this season on a street course. His previous best was fifth at St. Petersburg.

But it was another tough qualifying session for the two Canadian drivers.

James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Ont., was sixth in his group with a time of 59.6750 seconds and will start 12th, three spots behind Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que., who had a fast lap of 59.7601 seconds.

In qualifying Friday for the first race of the weekend, neither Hinchcliffe or Tagliani got past the first round with Hinchcliffe starting 13th, four spots ahead of Tagliani. Hinchcliffe qualified 14th for the first race but was bumped up after James Jakes was officially penalized 10 grid spots for an unapproved engine change earlier this week.

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