Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Alex Tagliani will start on the outside of the fourth row in Sunday’s The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio after he qualified eighth in IZOD IndyCar Series time trials today at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Tagliani, driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Honda/Dallara/Firestone car, made it to the second round of IZOD IndyCar Series “knockout” qualifying, just missing the Firestone Fast Six round with his fast lap of 1:18.8412 at 118.080 mph.

“We improved the car a lot from practice one to qualifying,” said Tagliani sitting on the pit road wall after qualifying. “The team has done a great job modifying the set-up. I think there’s some more to gain, we’re just lacking a little bit of grip here and there. Right now, I don’t have a lot of rear stability and that’s where we’ve been struggling with the car since the start of the weekend.

“It’s a pretty challenging track, but obviously the biggest thing is we need to make sure we get the car better,” said Tagliani. “I think P8, considering everything, is fairly good.”

Tagliani’s teammate for the weekend, rookie Martin Plowman, qualified his No. 17 Snowball Express/Honda/Firestone car for AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 26th. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be Plowman’s first IZOD IndyCar Series start. He won the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights race at Mid-Ohio.

“Obviously, that wasn’t the result that we were looking for,” said Plowman after climbing from his car. “I’m just trying to get the balance right on the red tires. We’re not quite there. We can’t get the most out of them yet. So, we’ll investigate that.

“I feel like our race pace is right there,” added Plowman. “We’re pretty competitive on used-tire runs, which bodes well for the race. Every lap, we are learning something, whether it’s my driving style or something on the car. Sometimes, it’s not a good thing we’re learning, but at least we’re learning what doesn’t work as well. It’s such a steep learning curve for me this weekend. Overall, we’re just trying to figure out how to put a whole weekend together here in the Indy cars. If I base it on how much we’ve learned, it’s been a good weekend from that respect.”

Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon captured his first PEAK Performance Pole Award of 2011 by turning in lap of 1:08:0776 at 119.405 mph. Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe will start next to Dixon on the front row after he produced a lap of 1:08.3359 at 118.954 mph.

Current IZOD IndyCar Series point leader Dario Franchitti, from Ganassi Racing, will start third with his lap of 1:08.4016 at 118.839 mph. Team Penske’s Will Power, second to Franchitti in the points championship, will start next to his rival in fourth with his lap of 1:08.4212 at 118.805 mph.

Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five in qualifying with his lap of 1:08.5796 at 118.531 mph.

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio gets underway at 2:50 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 7, with live coverage provided by Versus beginning with its pre-race show at 2 p.m. ET.

Date:                      Aug. 6, 2011

Event:                    The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Qualifying (Round 11 of 17)

Series:                   IZOD IndyCar Series

Location:              Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio (2.4-mile, 15-turn road course)

Pole Winner:       Scott Dixon of Ganassi Racing (1:08.0776 seconds at 119.405 mph)

SSM Lineup:        Alex Tagliani (8th, 1:08.8412 seconds at 118.080 mph)

                                Martin Plowman (26th, 1:10.2533 seconds at 115.707 mph)