FORT WORTH, Texas, June 8, 2012 – Simon Pagenaud will start 11th in Saturday night’s IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS).

The Frenchman drove his No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car around TMS’ 1.5-mile oval for two qualifying laps in 48.9345 seconds at 214.082 mph. Penske Racing’s Ryan Briscoe will start next to Pagenaud in Row 6.

The race will be just Pagenaud’s second start on an oval track. The Frenchman raced in the Indianapolis 500 last month, finishing 16th in his first race on an oval.

“With the first time here, I’m very happy with P11,” said Pagenaud. “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. P11 with that level of downforce is pretty good.”

For the second straight year, Canadian Alex Tagliani qualified on pole position for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ annual race at Texas Motor Speedway. His combined time was 48.9345 seconds at a speed of 215.691 mph.

In 2011, Tagliani captured the TMS pole driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. It is Tagliani’s eighth pole of his IndyCar career.

“It’s pretty cool to see Bowers & Wilkins (a Tagliani and Pagenaud sponsor) up there,” said Pagenaud. “It’s really cool for that team.”

Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will start next to Tagliani on the front row. Franchitti, driving for Ganassi Racing, had a combined time of 48.5797 seconds at 215.646 mph. The Scotsman won one of the two ‘twin’ races at TMS in 2011.

Graham Rahal, also racing for Ganassi Racing, will start on the inside of Row 2 after qualifying third with a time of 48.6003 seconds at 215.554 mph. A third Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, will start next to him with a time of 48.6507 seconds at 215.331 mph.

Series point leader Will Power will start fifth for Penske Racing. His qualifying effort of 48.6992 seconds at 215.116 mph was the fastest among the Chevrolet teams Honda-powered cars captured the first four positions.

The Firestone 550 will air live on NBC Sports Network Saturday night, June 9 at 8 p.m. ET.
DATE: June 8, 2012

EVENT: Firestone 550

LOCATION: Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile tri-oval)

SERIES: IZOD IndyCar Series

PAGENAUD: 11th (48.9345* at 214.082 mph)

POLE WINNER: Alex Tagliani of Bryan Herta Autosport (48.5695* at 215.691 mph)

*Cars are ranked in order based on quickest cumulative time of two qualifying laps.