Tagliani leads Honda 1-2-3-4 in Texas Qualifying
The Canadian averaged 215.691mph over his two qualifying laps at the wheel of the Bryan Herta Autosport Honda to beat Ganassi's Dario Franchitti by just 0.0102 sec. Franchitti had topped the practice session.
"Since we got back together with Honda, we flew under the radar," said Tagliani, whose team started the season using Lotus engines. "I think we're there. It's looking good for the rest of the year. Since Indy, we're really strong."
Tagliani, driving the No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA Honda, recorded a two-lap average speed of 215.691 mph (48.5695 seconds) to claim the pole position for the 228-lap race June 9 for the second consecutive year. He topped last June's speed (215.186 mph average) by half a mile-per-hour.
It was the first IZOD IndyCar Series pole for Bryan Herta Autosport.
Dario Franchitti, driving the No. 10 Energizer car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, was second (215.646) -- 0.0102 of a second behind -- and Graham Rahal posted his highest starting position of the season (third, 215.544) in the No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing car. He'll be joined on Row 2 by Scott Dixon (215.331).
Television coverage for the first Saturday night race of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series will air on the NBC Sports Network, starting at 8 p.m. EDT.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and rookie Josef Newgarden did not make a qualifying attempt today after the team had an engine failure during the first practice. Newgarden was third fastest in the session. The team will have a 10 grid spot penalty for the Firestone 550 for the unapproved engine change and a second penalty at Milwaukee for not installing the Indy 500 practice/qualifying engine.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "I think we're in a bit of a hole with the engine problem but it's nothing that we can't hopefully overcome. We've had a lot of bad luck at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing this year and luck hasn't really gone our way. One thing about SFHR though is that they never give up. We'll keep fighting and eventually we'll come out on top at some point. The racing is going to be very difficult tomorrow so you'll have to have a great set-up to do well. I have complete faith in the entire team behind me though."
Separate tests were conducted in February and May at Texas to set the baseline and confirm the aero package for the high-banked oval. Scott Dixon was quickest of 11 car/driver combinations during the May Open Test at 24.6644 seconds (212.371 mph).
INDYCAR last week issued a technical bulletin for the Texas aero package to distinguish it from the one used on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval (the initial oval race of the season):
Front and rear wing wicker up to a maximum of 1/8" height and full span are an area teams can experiment with to add or remove downforce.
BRYAN HERTA (Co-owner, Bryan Herta Autosport): "Alex (Tagliani) and Todd (Malloy) are a great combination. They proved that here last year, and they proved it again today. They're doing a really good job right now and it's a very proud time for our team to have this kind of success. The next stage for us now is that we have to convert the qualifying pace we've had the last couple of weeks into results."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "The Target car was good but we just didn't have enough for the front row today. Dario did a good job and I think we have the balance where it needs to be for tomorrow. I think we'll be racy and I look forward to getting going tomorrow night under the lights. There is more emphasis placed back in the drivers' hands with this car and that's what it's all about."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "The run was better than what we had in practice early on so happy that we got the car more dialed in. We just need to work a bit more on it this evening in practice and just get it dialed in for when we're in a big pack."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Honda): "We are still trying to figure out the car to get it just right for the race. The delay in practice today, which only gave us one hour in between practice and qualifying made things a bit challenging today, but it was the same for all the teams. The day didn't quite go as we would have liked it to have gone, but tomorrow should bring us better results. Hopefully my No. 18 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Honda can move up through the field like we did at Indy two weeks ago. I know the Dale Coyne Racing team will do everything possible to give me a great car for the race tomorrow."
JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "We had too much understeer during our qualifying attempt today. We need to work on the balance of the car. The short turnaround time between practice and qualifying made it hard to get the setup just right. Now the team can start working on the race-day setup. The entire Boy Scouts of America team have been working so hard this year that I am confident the guys can give me a great car for the race on Saturday."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA Honda): "Wow that is so great, back on the pole at Texas! I told people after we sat out the race in Brazil that our season started in Indy and it did, with Honda power. It is an honor to be part of the Honda family, and I am so happy to win this pole for the team and for Honda. Some drivers had a problem with their second lap and we were very consistent, but loose with the low downforce on both of them. 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. Bryan (Herta), Steve (Newey) and Todd (Malloy), the whole team won this pole - it is a great tribute to all the guys."
DARIO FRANCHITI (No. 10 Energizer Honda): "We went actually quicker than I thought we would. The Energizer car was a bit of handful in the first runs this morning, so we had a bit of work to do. The guys did a really good job of it and it's definitely the most, the hardest qualifying that I've done here with that level of downforce and that level of grip. And that's what we want, that's what all the drivers have been talking about with the series and putting some of the control back in the drivers' hands, and we definitely felt we had that in qualifying and I really think we're going to have that in the race tomorrow night. So it felt pretty good, we're going to do another practice tonight when it's a little cooler and see what the track's going to be like for tomorrow."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "With the first time here, I'm very happy with P11. It's pretty cool to see Bowers & Wilkins (Tagliani and Pagenaud sponsor) up there. It's really cool for that team. Our race mode is going to be way different (than qualifying) since it's a lot easier with the grip of new tires. I don't think we should pay too much to qualifying. It's definitely entertaining as a driver because it's like being a gladiator going into the arena. I enjoy it. P11 with that level of downforce is pretty good. I think we're in good shape. I wouldn't say I'm as comfortable as I would be on a road course, I'm not, because I need to build up my experience. But I have to say the guys are doing a tremendous job providing me a good car. Comfortable? I think I'm as good as I can be right now."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): "I think we can be really happy that we out-qualified one person on an oval. Our race car, we still need a little bit of work on it because we've never tested here. But every change we've made so far has been a really big improvement, so I'm really happy about that. We'll just keep working at it and hopefully we'll get a couple more steps tonight so we can have a pretty strong race car for tomorrow."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Mouser Electronics/GEICO - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "I am fairly happy with where we qualified. We will spend the next session working on race setup and seeing how the car reacts running in traffic ready for the race tomorrow. It will definitely be exciting for the fans and I just hope we have a safe and successful race."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): ""I am happy with my qualifying laps. The track is very different from when I tested here in May, so I am pleased with where I be starting tomorrow."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO-PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "In my five years in the (IZOD) IndyCar Series, I am pretty sure this race will be different than all the ones before. With all the aerodynamic changes that have taken place with the car for this race, the downforce levels we will be running are going to be lower. That is going to make the drivers work very hard. In the past, this race was a pretty easy race because we could go flat (accelerator to the floor) because of the high downforce levels. In this morning's practice, we could not do more than a few laps flat out. On top of that we have the traffic factor and all the dirty air plus full fuel tanks all of which will increase the level of difficulty. However, I like the challenged, I'm excited and I am looking forward to the race. Starting 16th is not the best position, however it is where we are. We have raced from there before and we can do it again. Go from the back to the front. "
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "It was quite an adventure today. We are using a different aerodynamic package here than we did in the Indy 500 and it was the first time for us to run at Texas this year. We only had a one hour session and there were so many things for us to work on. The car wasn't as comfortable to drive as we wanted but we had good data from the practice session and put it all together for qualifying. We should be happy with our performance in qualifying considering the situation. It's good to start in the top-10. The race setup is quite different from the qualifying setup and we will continue to work on it in the next practice session."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): ""I'm pretty upset. We were just off with our gearing in the Fuzzy's car. We were on the (boost) limiter for both laps. I think I could have been as fast as Tony (Kanaan) and others if we had our gearing right. We were first up to qualifying and we didn't have much time to prepare the car before qualifying. Everyone is so freaked out about 'pack' racing that we have so little downforce. And it will be extremely hard to get through the field from the back. I have been racing here since 2004 and I don't feel we've had a true 'pack race' since 2005. I feel everyone is nervous coming to the first one and a half track of the year. I understand that. I don't feel I'm reckless but we also have to put on a good race for the fans. This is a challenging track for the drivers. 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 have ever had at Texas."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "Speed isn't the problem in the National Guard Chevy, we're just jammed up here without a lot of time and we made a bunch of adjustments to make the car better. I had a huge moment on the warm-up lap. It's a tough deal, but we'll go back and figure out what's going on. It's obviously just a one-time thing. We've certainly got our work cut out for us tomorrow, but the National Guard car has always been good at Texas and the guys at Panther Racing do a great job. It's certainly frustrating to have qualifying go down like that but we've got some time to figure it out."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet): "We had a problem with the car in the first practice session - if I had been out there testing and no one was around I would have said the car was broke, it was that bad. Then we realized we had a bad shock and went closer to some of my teammates with some things and the car came to life. Still not quite where we would like to be on the grid but we're still inside the top 10 and we are back in it now, whereas this morning we weren't sure which way to go. We've been strong here in the past and I can do something with the RC Cola car from 10th."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "After the first practice we didn't quite know what to expect being the first time qualifying these cars on a mile and a half oval. You never know how far you're going to push it. The Go Daddy car was good and credit to the Andretti boys, but with the way the schedule was pushed back the time between practices being shortened we literally had to run my practice car in qualifying. We didn't have time to make any set up changes. So for the cars further back in the qualifying draw, they had a chance to make even little chances that can make the car go quicker so for what we had to run I think it was a good performance and I'm glad to have stayed in the top 10."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet,): ""I'm not really sure how we missed in qualifying like we did. I had the same setup as James (Hinchcliffe) that is starting sixth so I'm disappointed. But the race is what really counts so we'll work hard in practice this afternoon and do our best with the DHL / Sun Drop Chevy."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "The race car is a totally different animal than the qualifying car; they're not the same thing here. I think we have a pretty good race car. I feel really good about what we're doing into tonight's practice. For qualifying, we tuned the car throughout the practice session earlier today. It's a little disappointing for the NovoLog FlexPen guys but at the end of
the day, we have a really good race car and that's what matters tomorrow."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): "The Service Central car was really strong. The Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing team is doing a great job. When I first went out there this morning, I did not like it at all and the team worked really hard and the car was awfully fast. Overall, the car feels really good so we're looking forward to the race tomorrow."
KATHERINE LEGGE (No. 6 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet): ""When you go out there, it is like nothing else you have ever experienced. It is like being in control of your own fairground ride around here. I think everyone is finding it a bit of a challenge. It is the cars with more mechanical grip that are going to do better. They're the cars that have been here testing; that have shaker rigs; have done wind tunnel tests; they are the ones that are going to shine this weekend. They have all had a couple of days to learn all of this stuff. The more you get out and you get back in and you do; I'm sure tomorrow will be a whole different animal for me. At this stage, it is just very new and overwhelming, I would say. We have one Chevrolet engine moving forward. We are very grateful to Chevrolet for the engine. So basically Sebastien (Bourdais) and I are supporting each other. I was in Detroit with him, and he is here with me. We are putting up a united front and push through it."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a disappointing qualifying run in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske car. We just didn't gear it right and we hit the limiter. It's certainly not where we should be but I'm looking forward to the race. I think it's going to be a mixed bag out there we've just got to make sure we have a good race car."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a tough run out there for sure, we had some hard limiter on that second lap, but I could hear other people dealing with the same issues. In the race I think it's going to be about track position and with the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car starting fifth things are looking good for us. It is going to be a fun race"
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet): "That was the first time we actually trimmed. In the practice earlier, we didn't have time to trim for qualifying. So, we took a guess and I think it was decent. We knew we probably weren't out there to go for pole. We just wanted to be solidly in, and in the middle. That is where we are going to be so not to bad to start. We've been starting a lot at the back this year. So anything better than that is going to feel better and make my job easier tomorrow."
Note: Mike Conway qualified eighth in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing but will incur a 10-grid spot penalty for an unapproved engine change following the Belle Isle race (it didn't reach it's 1,850 mileage limit). ... Also facing 10-grid spot penalties are Josef Newgarden, who did not make a qualifying attempt, and Simona de Silvestro.
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