By Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
- Tagliani easily takes pole position
- 1st Texas pole for Sam Schmidt Motorsports
- Franchitti on outside pole, Power starts 3rd
Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Alex Tagliani rode roughshod over the field at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, corralling the pole for the first of Saturday night's Firestone Twin 275s. Tagliani's two-lap average speed of 215.186 mph bested strong challenges from Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti (214.801 mph) and Penske Racing's Will Power (214.470 mph).
"It's a tribute to how much effort and how much love the Sam Schmidt Motorsport guys put into the car," said Tagliani. "I watched them work the last two weeks and they worked harder than when they brought the car to Indianapolis. That's what a team does. We're going to continue to work hard and bring fast cars to the track."
Tagliani started from pole in the Indianapolis 500 on May 29th, at the IndyCar Series’ previous outing on-track. He now has collected seven pole starts in his IndyCar career. This is the first pole start for the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team at Texas Motor Speedway.
Franchitti will be making his fourth career front-row start over the Lone Star state's 1.5 mile tri-oval.
"The balance of the car wasn't good on the first lap," he said, "but I worked the levers inside the car and got a better lap the second time. It's going to be interesting out there tomorrow night with the double-file restarts and the fuel strategies—a lot of splash and dash."
"It was a good run out there," said Power of his effort, which landed him on the inside of the second row. "I was flat and on the white line for both laps. We get two shots at it tomorrow and I'm definitely ready to race."
KV Racing Lotus driver Takuma Sato took fourth spot on the scoring pylon with an average speed of 214.470.
"It was fantastic, very exciting," he said afterwards. "The car was balanced and really felt good. Now we really need to concentrate on getting a good car for the race."
Ed Carpenter qualified fifth, his best qualifying position at Texas, for Sarah Fisher Racing; while Tony Kanaan, also in a Lotus, qualified sixth. Scott Dixon, who won here in 2008, sits seventh on the grid; while Wade Cunningham qualified eighth in this his IndyCar Series debut for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
"I feel good about our car," said Carpenter. "We seem to have good speed. I wasn't sure where we were going to end up, but it seems like everyone ran quicker during qualifying than we did in practice. I'm happy with our qualifying effort, but I always want to be faster. Either way we have a good starting spot for tomorrow night, and I think we have something for them."
Power's Penske Racing teammate Ryan Briscoe took the inside spot of the fifth row, and Andretti Autosport's Danica Patrick earned the tenth qualifying position.
"The car had a solid qualifying run. It was faster in qualifying than it was in practice, which is great," said Patrick. "We went into qualifying hoping for a top-10 start which we accomplished. I think we are in a good position headed into tomorrow's first race."
Tagliani's feat assures him of leading the field on Saturday night to the green flag in the first of the two races. The pole position of the second race will be determined by a random draw of the entries.
The opening 114 lap Firestone Twin 275 will start at 7:45 PM Central time on Saturday and be broadcast in high definition via the VERSUS network. The race will also air live on the IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM channel 94 and on the IndyCar website.
The second race will follow approximately one hour after the first race concludes.