Stunning Performance Places Conquest Racing Fifth on Grid
TORONTO (July 11, 2009) - The day may have started out under dark clouds and thunderstorms but it ended with sunny skies and quite a performance by the Conquest Racing team. Canadian driver Alex Tagliani gave the team its best IndyCar Series start since joining the unified series in 2008 with a fifth place on the starting grid for Sunday's Honda Indy Toronto, ahead of Penske Racing drivers Castroneves and Briscoe and 2008 Series Champion Scott Dixon.
With the morning practice taking place in wet conditions, Conquest Racing and Tagliani did not know quite what to expect when qualifying got underway in dry conditions, but they were confident they had the speed to do well at what is considered one of the team's ‘home' races. Tagliani went out in the first group during round one of qualifying and made it into round two by only one hundredth of a second over seventh place.
Heading into the second round of qualifying, the top Canadian driver of the day had no intention of just ‘barely' making it into the Firestone Fast Six. On his ninth lap, he registered a blistering time of 1:01.0567, which placed him two tenths up on everyone while sitting in first place, sending him comfortably into the final round. After coming close at the first two street courses of the season, Conquest Racing and Tag were finally in their first Firestone Fast Six.
Once the final round went green, Tagliani immediately went out to try and set a fast lap on the Firestone Alternate tires he used in the previous round. After setting a lap of 1:01.8544, Tag came back into the pits for a new set of regular Firestone slicks. On his ninth and final lap of the session, he registered a time of 1:01.6980, which places him fifth on the starting grid for his fifth race of the season.
The Honda Indy Toronto takes place Sunday, July 12 and will be broadcast live on ABC (US) and TSN (Canada) starting at 1 p.m. ET.
5th - Alex Tagliani King Tut / Conquest Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone
"For a small but talented team like ours, to be ahead of drivers from teams like Penske and Ganassi, it means a lot to us. It's a good reward for everyone on the team and they truly deserve it because they do such a fantastic job. It's also very special to have a good performance like this at a home race in front of my fellow Canadians. It's also nice to be able to offer our sponsors the Rexall Edmonton Indy and Northlands, the King Tut Exhibit, Sears, Craftsman and The Keg a good qualifying result and I'm confident we can follow this up with another strong performance tomorrow."
Eric Bachelart Team Owner
"After missing a few races, we can be very pleased with our top 5 result in qualifying today. It's also very satisfying to find ourselves ahead of teams that compete regularly for the pole position, it's a testament to the talented people we have on the team. Alex drove really well and obviously the engineers gave him a very good car. I'm very proud of what we have done today and we are looking forward to building on this tomorrow."