Two-lap average speed of 218.896 mph on the 1.455-mile, high-banked oval
Will Power earned his second consecutive Verizon P1 Award for Saturday's Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway with a two-lap average speed of 218.896 mph on the 1.455-mile, high-banked oval.
Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, broke a tie with Dario Franchitti for sixth on the all-time Indy car list with his 34th pole and second of the season.
"I was actually surprised by the speed on the first lap (219.550 mph) and thought 'I have to do it again,'" said Power, who has started in the top five at Texas in six consecutive races and won in 2011. "I'm very focused on the race. Last year, (teammate) Helio (Castroneves) was very strong, so I'll try to get a car that strong for the race if I can."
Four different teams are represented in the top five and seven in the top 10.
Josef Newgarden will start second in the No. 67 Strike/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car, recording his best qualifying effort in his third Verizon IndyCar Series season with a two-lap average of 217.835 mph. He was the only driver to improve his speed from Lap 1 to 2 (217.446 mph to 218.225 mph). Newgarden's previous best qualifying on an oval was fourth at Auto Club Speedway in the 2012 season finale.
"I was happily surprised," said Newgarden, of Hendersonville, Tenn. "We worked mainly on race stuff this morning (in the lone practice session). The name of the game is how to reduce tire degradation during the course of a run, so that's what we focused on. We didn't go super conservative for qualifying, but we didn't go to the edge. The car was really fast. It's almost like opening a gift at Christmas and getting what you want."
Tony Kanaan, who wrapped up his 2004 series championship at Texas Motor Speedway, and Juan Pablo Montoya will start on Row 2. Kanaan, in the No. 10 Suave for Men entry for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, posted a two-lap average of 217.826 mph. Montoya competed in 17 NASCAR races at the speedway, but is making his first Indy car start. His two-lap average of 217.724 mph in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske car yielded his highest starting position of the season.
Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Ed Carpenter (217.677 mph) in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car will be on Row 3 with Simon Pagenaud (217.222 mph), driving the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car.
Here's what some drivers said about qualifying:
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 National Guard Honda): "Your starting position here isn't everything but it's just frustrating to qualify where we did because I thought we had a pretty good car in practice. Our race car is pretty good but I was pretty nervous about our qualifying car. Frankly the rear just wasn't underneath us at all so we just need to go back and look at the data and see what we can do to improve the situation. The race is what counts and that's what we're working toward. Obviously we showed that we still have a long way to go. I think we will race better than we ran in qualifying but we've got to find some speed."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "A very disappointing qualifying run for the Hydroxycut - KVSH Racing team. Obviously, not what we were hoping for. We were not really quick and not really happy with the car this morning, so we made some changes that didn't work out. Now we just have to try and forget about qualifying and make the race car as good as we can get it. Hopefully have a good day tomorrow."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "I am disappointed with the car in qualifying. It felt good in practice this morning. And the first lap is good (218.326), but the car really fell off the second lap (217.031). There was just no grip. I'm not sure this aero (dynamic) package is right. Texas Motor Speedway is the toughest oval track we run now. It's tougher than Indy, Fontana and others. We haven't had pack racing since 2005 or 2006 here. It's been single file here since 2007 but everyone still thinks we race in packs here. That's just not the case."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "It was a tough qualifying run for us. It was a short preparation after just one practice. We couldn't take part in qualifying last year due to a small problem, so for us it was a bit of a challenge. The car wasn't in a particularly happy place so we still need to work out a lot of things. Hopefully the evening practice will take us to a stronger package."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing Honda): "We attacked today differently than qualifying for Indianapolis, focusing much more on the race pace than qualifying. 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. I think we've got a good race package, and I'm feeling very confident with it."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers KV AFS Racing Chevrolet): "I am very disappointed with our qualifying effort. We came here with high expectations that the Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.- KV AFS car would be pretty strong around here, but unfortunately that hasn't been the case. The whole team has been working very hard to put both cars (No. 17 and No. 11) where they deserve to be and we now need to go back to the drawing board find the problems and fix them. We need to try and move on from qualifying now and keep the positive mindset alive going into final practice tonight and the race tomorrow."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "It's funny - this is probably the most difficult qualifying run I've ever had on a 1.5-mile track. I think we got a little bit of information from Carlos (Munoz), and I think Marco (Andretti) can learn a little bit off the both of us (qualifying last). I'm kind of disappointed with that run; I think the United Fiber & Data car had more in it. We'll be good in the race - these guys are always strong during the race and this series is just so competitive right now."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): "Our qualifying run was a pretty big disappointment, although I think we're lucky to be (starting) 17th. I almost crashed on the out lap when I wasn't even pushing and we overstepped. We just over-did it. Never count us out (on winning from 17th), but the way practice went, it seemed like it was going to be a track position race because it's definitely harder to pass here than last year. We'll have to see how the evening practice goes, so hopefully it's shuffled up a bit and we can make some ground with the Snapple Honda."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM Honda): "I had to lift on the last lap in Turn 3 - I had a big moment out there. Now we just have to concentrate on the race; it's a long race here and it doesn't really matter where you start. You have to have a good car in the race, and I think we have a little work ahead before tomorrow."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "We had a bit of an imbalance. We weren't really in the race track, as we like to call it, but the car was on top of the race track - moving around a lot when you get in the corner and just scrubbing too much speed because of it. We need to go back and work on our mechanical grip setup so we can have a bit more grip out there tonight (for practice). The DHL crew had a great run here last year, and I think we should have a good night tomorrow night. It's going to be difficult with the downforce and the current compound we're running."
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Honda): "This is my first time here at Texas Motor Speedway, so considering that I'm really happy with this qualifying run. We know we have a good car for tomorrow, and I can't wait to see how we do in practice later tonight. The race is where our real focus is, and we'll know more about how our car handles traffic this evening. I'm really enjoying learning the nuances of oval racing. There's so much 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."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "I'm glad Josef's car is nice and balanced and he's having fun out there because I'm definitely sliding around and it's a bit of handful. So I'm really pleased with where we got the speed in qualifying. I think we could have gone a little bit more, but we were fairly trimmed out so the car was sliding around. It was a handful. I've come to expect that around this place. You get a little loose here and you put it in the middle you get to loose off. I think the race is going to be the same. You've got to manage the Firestones. We just abuse them around here. We're sliding everywhere. I think we just got to try and work that and try and look after them. I'm expecting it to be quite an interesting race. With more downforce, I think it's going it's going to be slightly more compact than last year. The Boy Scouts of America car is going to be quick and we've got something to go out there and challenge them. We'll see what happens. You just never know. The temperature makes such a difference. Today it got warm for qualifying. I was a little at how much downforce we pulled off and how hot it got so I knew it was going to be tough out there in qualifying."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I had a bit of an understeer with the Verizon Chevy, but I'm pretty happy with that lap. Tonight's practice session is going to be very important because the track will be the closest we'll get to race conditions. We tested here a couple of months ago and I think we learned a lot. The weather is nowhere close to the same as it was then, but hopefully we can still apply some of the things we learned."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "We had a really good first practice this morning and I was able to run in first for most of the session and then ended up in third behind my teammates in the end. I think we were just off on the gears for qualifying and I wasn't able to put together the lap times we were hoping for. In qualifying it's the fine details that can really make you lose quite a bit of speed and that was definitely the case for us today. We'll be able to go back and get the problem fixed and be ready to put in a good race tomorrow night."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "Qualifying didn't go quite as planned today, but the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet is looking good for the race. The Novo Nordisk guys did a great job getting the car ready and I think I have a really good car underneath me. We just missed it a little bit and around here when you miss it a little bit, you see big differences. Overall the Chevy has been really fun to drive around here and it's great to be a part of Team Chevy this season."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet): "The Target car was obviously really good this morning and we were happy the way we unloaded. This afternoon in qualifying we ran a good first lap which had us second overall, but our second lap was a lot slower, which we knew would be the case. I think we should be strong over long runs and good for the race tomorrow night."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Suave For Men Chevrolet): "We have had a good car so far today here in Texas and we were strong this morning leading practice in the Suave For Men No. 10 car. I just missed it a little on our second lap in qualifying. I think it was something when I shifted at the wrong time and that slowed us up a little on that second lap. Either way it's still a good race car and I'm looking forward to practice tonight."