Alex Tagliani has ridden the time sheet this weekend like a roller coaster before bringing the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone car of Sam Schmidt Motorsports back into the station today with the ninth fastest speed in qualifying for Sunday's IZOD IndyCar Series' Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
At the end of Friday's two practice sessions, Tagliani had posted the fifth-fastest speed of the day. However, the Canadian driver had fallen to 17th in the Saturday morning practice session, which was the lead-in practice for qualifying. After a lengthy meeting with team engineers and a few adjustments, Tagliani climbed back up the speed chart in qualifying.
"Obviously, the Firestone reds are quite grippy, so the lap times jumped a bunch," said Tagliani. "The track is good. The Bowers & Wilkins car is good. We were in the hunt pretty much all weekend long. We just had a little balance issue going on the second reds and not even a tenth would have put us in the Firestone Fast 6. It's a bummer. I think we have a car to compete tomorrow and to try and get on the podium. We'll just have to execute everything, stay out of trouble in turn one, and survive all the attrition and we should be in great shape."
In IZOD IndyCar series "knock-out" street-course qualifying, Tagliani made it out of the first round of group qualifying by posting a lap in the top-six of group two. The 12 cars running in the second round try to make it into the Firestone Fast Six and a shot at the pole, but Tagliani finished in the ninth spot with his lap of 1 minute, 9.6497 seconds (101.720 mph), ending his qualifying session.
The track is good. The Bowers & Wilkins car is good.
IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power won his third PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season with a lap of 1:09:0649 (102.582). It was also the third consecutive Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach pole won by Power. Joining the Aussie on the front row is Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six are Andretti Autosport's Mike Conway in third, Newman/Haas Racing's Oriol Servia in fourth, Dreyer & Reinbold's Justin Wilson in fifth and Team Penske's Helio Castroneves in sixth. For the first time since Long Beach 2010, neither Chip Ganassi Racing car qualified for the Firestone Fast Six shootout. Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon will start together in row four.
Seven different IZOD IndyCar Series teams are represented in the first five rows.
Sunday's 85-lap Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will start with 27 IZOD IndyCar Series cars and will air live on VERSUS at 3:30 EDT.