Fort Worth, TX (June 7, 2013) - The 1.5-mile oval at Texas Motor Speedway flexed its muscles today during qualifying for the Firestone 550, and both Simon Pagenaud and Tristan Vautier will start the race from the back of the field.
Pagenaud qualified 14th for the race, but due to an unscheduled engine change he will receive a 10-spot grid penalty on race day.
According to Pagenaud, the speed in his No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car was not fully represented in the qualifying session where he posted a two-lap average of 215.727 mph.
The Frenchman is not worried about the No. 77 car's ability to perform in the 550 km race tomorrow at the superspeedway, however.
"It didn't go our way in qualifying today but we have a long race tomorrow," he said. "The nature of the racing here is to have low downforce for good racing. It will be important to have a stable car set-up so that we can be consistent in the race."
Tristan Vautier did not make a qualifying attempt due to the No. 55 coastal.com/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car receiving an engine change prior to its mileage limit, which automatically results in a 10-spot grid penalty.
"We have an engine change to do and our qualifying would have been compromised because of that, so we just decided it was best not to go out," Vautier said. "We're short on tires too, so it just made more sense for us today."
The 23-year-old IZOD IndyCar Series rookie is still getting used to driving on the high-banked oval that brings blistering speeds out of his No. 55 car.
"The car is very tricky to drive here, but it's the same way for everyone," Vautier said. "There is very little downforce which makes things difficult and showcases driver talent. I know I have a lot of work to do because I'm not used to driving these high speeds on the edge."