Charlie Kimball drove to the first pole position in his Verizon IndyCar Series career, winning the Verizon P1 Award in record fashion for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Kimball, set to make his 109th career start, set one- and two-lap INDYCAR qualifying records to earn the first starting position for the 248-lap race on Saturday.
Driving the No. 83 Tresiba Honda, Kimball’s two-lap time of 46.5861 seconds (222.556 mph) broke the standard by more than a second held by Will Power since 2013 (47.7960) on the 1.5-mile oval that was repaved and reconfigured in the offseason. The banking in Turns 1 and 2 was decreased 4 degrees to 20 degrees and the track surface widened 20 feet to 80 feet in that area.
Kimball led all four Chip Ganassi Racing drivers qualifying in the top six. Current points leader Scott Dixon was second in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda, Tony Kanaan fourth in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda and Max Chilton sixth in the No. 8 Gallagher Honda.
It had been nearly two years since Tristan Vautier last put a wheel on the Texas Motor Speedway oval, but it didn’t look like it when he took to the track on Friday and qualified fifth for Saturday’s RAINGUARD Water Sealers 600.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The Frenchman, who is replacing the injured Sebastien Bourdais at this weekend’s event, was 16th in line to qualify and he immediately jumped up to third place provisionally with his 221.801mph two-lap average around the 1.5-mile oval.
The driver of the #18 Dale Coyne Racing entry owed part of his qualifying success to his teammate Ed Jones who was second in line to qualify and who provided the team with important feedback following his run.
The team had elected to take a more conservative approach heading into qualifying with a higher level of downforce on their cars. With Jones only registering a two-lap average of 217.315mph the team proceeded to make changes to Vautier’s car, which allowed him to eventually place fifth on the starting grid. Jones will be starting from 19th.
For Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz, there is only one way to go in the RAINGUARD Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway: Forward.
Both cars struggled for speed in this afternoon’s hour-long practice which was delayed by rain and shortened by 15 minutes. Daly was 22nd and Munoz was 18th in the ranking. As the team prepped for qualifying, the 14 car was late to the tech inspection line by a few minutes and, according to INDYCAR rules, the team forfeited their chance to qualify.
A 30-minute practice is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. ET today and streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. It will be the final on-track action until Saturday’s race, the ninth of 17 on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule and 29th at Texas Motor Speedway since the facility opened in 1997.
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion): "I was really hoping for more for our No. 1 DXC Technology Chevrolet. We ran about the same in practice as qualifying. It's OK. We're going to work on the car more before final practice and see what we can figure out and go from there. I do think we'll have a good car for the race, though."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I'm a little bummed about where we qualified. We worked on the car during first practice and couldn't find the speed we needed to head into qualifying. It's disappointing, but the No. 2 Hum by Verizon Chevy team and I are looking forward to final practice to see what we can do to find more speed. We'll be able to get things sorted out and be ready for the race tomorrow night."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet): "We're going to start 10th in tomorrow's race here at Texas. It's not what I hoped for, but the No. 3 AAA Chevrolet team and myself have some things we want to work on for final practice. The one thing about this track is that you never know what's going to happen. It always has a surprise or two. We're ready to get back on track soon."
CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "We trimmed out a lot, but there's just no speed in the car, and I don't really know why. It felt balanced, but we're just a little ways off, so we'll work to have a better car for the race. The car did feel OK in traffic earlier, so hopefully we'll have a good car for the race."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "We're one of the teams that didn't get to properly test here, and the rain today kind of condensed the schedule in a way that was definitely not advantageous for people that hadn't run here. We didn't really have time after practice to come back and look at the data, make a decision about downforce and get gears changed in time. We were really handcuffed by the schedule. Qualifying isn't normally super important here in Texas, but now it is; the track doesn't race like it used to and everybody is pretty worried about a processional race. We'll find out tomorrow night, but very upsetting where we're starting. We've got a long night tomorrow."
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda): "Obviously until you're P1, you're not satisfied if you're a good athlete, and that's how I am. To be honest, qualifying is just qualifying, and you're going to get the points during the race which is the most important thing. I hope that we'll be able to continue developing after practice tonight and have a good car."
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): "We're working on getting a little more speed in the Gallagher car. The new configuration to the banking in Turns 1 and 2 have been a bit tough to adjust to. We can get through Turns 3 and 4 flat, but still need some adjustments to do the same in 1 and 2 to get those good, consistent and fast speeds."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): "Obviously the weather is much different than when we tested and it's supposed to be a lot warmer tomorrow, but we learned some things and it was a good practice session this morning for the No. 9 car and the team. It really doesn't matter where you qualify here, but I think we've got a decent setup to go after it tomorrow in the NTT Data Honda. Congrats to Charlie and the No. 83 team for their first pole. Great team effort today and looking forward to tomorrow."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): "I feel like we put together a really good lap and I'm happy with where we are in terms of speed right now in the NTT Data car. We still have a little work to do though. My teammates have good cars too so that will be great data to go look at when we're done tonight. The track really got better as we went on for sure. But hat's off the Charlie on his first pole. He put together a great two laps."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "We had a good run in qualifying, but we needed a little more. We'll start ninth which isn't terrible but not ideal either. We still have final practice and are ready to look for more speed. The No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet team and myself have some ideas we're ready to try. Our cars have been good in the races all season and there's no reason to think that will change."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack / Bobby Rahal Automotive Honda, 2016 Rainguard Water Sealers 600 winner): "The car was OK, maybe we could have trimmed a little more. It didn't quite pull all of the six gears. The track grip felt really low. It seemed to take a couple of laps just to get the tires to come in and start working, but it was a solid run. There are guys that I knew would go quicker than that, but it was an OK run. I was just hoping to stay in the top 10. We just wanted a good, solid starting spot for the race. On the last lap of practice we got pretty neutral with the setup and probably got too conservative going into qualifying. We started 13th last year and won, so we're hoping for the same result from 11th."
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "I was a bit nervous, to be honest, just to know how it was going to feel, that first lap out. On a road course maybe not, but here on an oval, it's a difficult place. I was just kind of anxious to get in the car and see how it would be, but after three of four laps, it was OK. Obviously everything goes a bit faster than when you've done it all season, but I got back in it pretty quick. The team made it easy because the car was so good from the start. It's really cool to work with these guys, Craig (Hampson, engineer), Olivier (Boisson, engineer) and obviously the rest of the team. The car has felt really nice from the start and it's really helped me out. The (qualifying run) was good, I think that they nailed the downforce quite perfect to the good level. I've had some tougher (qualifying sessions) where I didn't qualify as well, so I have to give credit to the team. Obviously the race is going to be much tougher for me. Long, obviously very long, and I've been out for a while, but we have tonight to practice and we'll see how it goes."
ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "I love this track. If anything, this is the most comfortable I've ever been on an oval from the get-go. For qualifying we had too much downforce, it was too easy fast, which is a bit frustrating. We had limited track time and our team is the only one that wasn't able to test here in April, so we were going into it with a lot of unknowns, but I'm confident that we're going to have a good race car and that's what's important for tomorrow."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "We are still all trying to figure this place out. Our balance could have been a little bit better, and I could have gone harder on the warm up lap. Both would have helped our qualifying speed, but we'll focus on practice tonight and see what we can do from there."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "I felt great in the practice session this afternoon. I am super surprised by our lack of speed in qualifying. We were running faster than that on our own on used tires in practice. We've got another practice to run later on today and we'll get back with the program."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "The car went high on the first lap in qualifying on the exit of Turn 2, so not as fast as should have been. But the No. 26 car again showed great speed and we carry great momentum, so I'm very happy with that."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): "I drew an early qual run, first car out, so we were dependent on the temperature. If the clouds clear and the track heats up, then it's good to be early with cloud cover. But if the clouds hold, then everyone is just adjusting based on your run and running quicker. Lap 2 was fast, but Lap 1 I was on edge and the car was so loose. Normally I'm flat in qualifying, but today had to lift on Lap 1. I'm not real happy about that."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "We're making small steps. We missed the open test here so we're a few steps behind our teammates in the competition and speeds. We're trying to catch up, but we need to make sure that we're doing that methodically and not just swinging for the fences. Practice this morning was a start and qualifying was one more step, but we need every minute of today's final practice session for the DHL team."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): "I'm really excited to be on pole. The guys totally deserve it. Everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing has been working so hard and the boys have had my back all year long through the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's so nice to be able to repay them with a pole position here at Texas Motor Speedway. The No. 83 Tresiba Honda was really good right out of the box and Todd made a few adjustments that made it better during the course of practice. During qualifying we just took a swing at it and went out and got the job done."
GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): "We are finished with practice and qualifying and move onto the race. Our position is not ideal, but given the very short amount of track time that we've had, I think we're within the window of being pretty competitive for the race. I am looking forward to racing here at Texas (Motor) Speedway with our new team."
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda): "The ShopAndretti Honda was good from when we rolled off (the truck) today. I knew when we got in the qualifying line that we didn't have anything for pole with how much the Ganassi cars were trimmed. But, third is good, as we saw last year, a lot can happen at this race and I feel really good in the race car as well – confidence is high at the moment."
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