Friday, June 8, 2012

Alex Tagliani back on the pole at Texas

Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Alex Tagliani took the high line to win the pole for the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway. His first pole of the 2012 season is the first pole overall for Bryan Herta Autosport in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Tagliani's second at the Great American Speedway. Last season he nabbed the top spot in one of the Twin 275s, but it was for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "Wow, that is so great, back on the pole at Texas," Tagliani said. "We are very happy to start up front and I'd like to think that we will be a threat in the race tomorrow night." 

Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Tagliani bumped fellow Honda driver Dario Franchitti to the outside of the front row. Franchitti, who won one of those Twin 275s last year for Target Chip Ganassi this year campaigned for changes to the cars to help break up the kind of pack racing that's blamed for the death of his friend Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas in the season finale. Franchitti stated it was "Definitely the most, the hardest qualifying that I've done here with that level of downforce and that level of grip. Franchitti insists that the change puts control of the race back in the hands of the driver, rather than putting them at the mercy of the drivers around them. "I really think we're going to have that in the race tomorrow night."

Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Third-place Graham Rahal gained his best start at Texas and carefully explained how he believes the changes both make the drivers safer and gives the fans the show they want. "This is probably the first time in a long time I had to actually drive the car," Rahal said, explaining that for a long time drivers have depended on good cars to get the results they want, rather than having to actually be skilled drivers. He seemed confident passing would still be a major factor in the race Saturday night, and that the exciting finishes Texas is known for will still be possible.

One opposing view came from Ed Carpenter, whose qualifying run in his No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevy failed to meet his expectations. "We were on the (boost) limiter for both laps...Everyone's so freaked out about pack racing that we have so little downforce...I have been driving racing here since 2004 and I don't feel that we've had a true 'pack race' since 2005." Carpenter concluded, "If we race the package we ran in practice, this will be a follow-the-leader race and one of the most boring races we've ever had at Texas." 

The starting lineup for the IZOD IndyCar Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway:

Rank
 
Driver
Engine
1
Alex Tagliani
Honda
2
Dario Franchitti
Honda  
3
Graham Rahal
Honda  
4
Scott Dixon
Honda  
5
Will Power
Chevy  
6
James Hinchcliffe
Chevy  
7
Tony Kanaan
Chevy  
8
Mike Conway
Honda  
9
Marco Andretti
Chevy  
10
Takuma Sato
Honda
11
Simon Pagenaud
Honda
12
Oriol Servia
Chevy  
13
Rubens Barrichello
Chevy  
14
Ryan Hunter-Reay
Chevy  
15
EJ Viso
Chevy  
16
Helio Castroneves
Chevy  
17
Charlie Kimball
Honda  
18
Justin Wilson
Honda  
19
Ed Carpenter
Chevy
20
James Jakes
Honda
21
Katherine Legge
Chevy  
22
Simona de Silvestro
Lotus  
23
JR Hildebrand
Chevy
24
Ryan Briscoe
Chevy

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