Schmidt Peterson Motorsports removed downforce before making qualifying attempts.
FORT WORTH, Texas - Sweltering conditions during Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying for the Firestone 600 were no match for Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin, who qualified sixth and 11th, respectively, on the 1.5-mile oval Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) worked on race setup for both cars during the 75-minute practice session before qualifications and removed downforce before making qualifying attempts.
"We attacked today differently than qualifying for Indianapolis, focusing much more on race pace than qualifying," Pagenaud said. "It was a bit hairy during my qualifying run. We trimmed out as much downforce as possible, but qualifying runs are supposed to be on the edge. The car feels really light when you're running like that, but it's fun."
Pagenaud's two-lap qualifying average of 217.222 mph produced his best career TMS starting spot.
"I think we've got a good race package, and I'm feeling very confident with it," Pagenaud said. "It's crucial that you feel comfortable enough in your car to pass people. We're getting close to where we need to be, but there's still work to do in our final practice session."
Rookie Aleshin produced a two-lap average speed of 216.880, and he matched his best Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying effort earlier in the season at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
"This is my first time here at Texas Motor Speedway, so considering that, I'm really happy with this run," Aleshin said. "We know we have a good car for tomorrow. The race is where our real focus is."
The Firestone 600 will be the second oval race of Aleshin's career.
"I'm really enjoying learning the nuances of oval racing," Aleshin said. "There's a high level of banking here that comes up on you very fast. You need to know how to handle that, while negotiating all of the other cars racing around you."
Will Power will start on pole for the Firestone 600. The 248-lap race will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. (ET) Saturday, June 7 on NBC Sports Network.