Alex Tagliani backed up his Indianapolis 500 pole from two weeks ago by capturing the PEAK Performance Pole today in IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying for Saturday night’s Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) in Fort Worth.
Tagliani, driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Honda/Dallara/Firestone car, will lead the field of 30 IndyCar drivers to the green flag in the first of two 114-lap races under the lights of TMS. The field for the second 114-lap race, which will start 70 minutes after the end of the first race, will be set by a blind draw during the intermission.
“It’s (the pole) a tribute to how much effort and how much love the guys put in the car,” said Tagliani in the Texas Motor Speedway media center. “I watched them work the last two weeks and they worked harder than when they brought the car to Indianapolis. That’s what a team does. We’re going to continue to work hard and bring fast cars to the track.”
Rookie Wade Cunningham, driving the No. 99 Creatherm Dallara/Honda/Firestone car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, put in a solid qualifying run and will start eighth and on the outside of fellow New Zealander Scott Dixon in the fourth row. The rookie’s time of 48.9504 seconds (214.013 mph) raised eyebrows as it was his first qualifying attempt in the IZOD IndyCar Series and was the top time and speed through the first half of qualifying.
“We went out and did a lot of race running in the first session with a high down-force package, so we didn’t get to do any practice in a qualifying package,” said Cunningham. “For us, it’s just about sticking to the basics. An hour of practice before qualifying isn’t a lot. I hadn’t been to this track since 2005 in Indy Lights, and this is my first weekend in an Indy car. So we were just keeping it simple by doing the basics.”
Tagliani will actually start a race on the pole for the third consecutive weekend. In addition to starting on the pole for the Indianapolis 500, the Canadian qualified first in a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race last weekend at a track in Montreal, which is near his hometown of Lachenaie, Quebec.
Defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti will line up next to Tagliani on the front row. Rounding out the top five are Team Penske and current points leader Will Power, KV Racing’s Takuma Sato, and Sarah Fisher Racing’s Ed Carpenter.
The Firestone Twin 275s gets underway at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 10, with live coverage provided by Versus beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.
Date: June 10, 2011
Event: Firestone Twin 275s Qualifying (Round 6 of 17)
Series: IZOD IndyCar Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Pole Winner: Alex Tagliani of Sam Schmidt Motorsports (48.6834 seconds at 215.186 mph)
SSM Lineup: Alex Tagliani (1st, 48.6834 seconds at 215.186 mph)
Wade Cunningham (8th, 48.9504 seconds at 214.013 mph)