Only weeks after taking a surprise pole position at the Indianapolis 500, Alex Tagliani has repeated the feat by taking pole for the first race of the double-header Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Sam Schmidt Motorsport driver clocked an average speed of 215.816mph on his two-lap run of the oval circuit, fractionally faster than second-quickest man Dario Franchitti, who was a dominant fixture during last year’s oval-race events. Championship leader Will Power qualified third-fastest in his Penske.
Qualifying threw up some surprises, with KV Racing’s Takuma Sato clocking an impressive-fourth-fastest average speed.
Indy Lights veteran Wade Cunningham made his IndyCar debut in the second Sam Schmidt entry, and the New Zealander was an eyebrow-raising eighth-fastest.
Making his return to Dragon Racing for the second of his five outings with the team, veteran driver Paul Tracy qualified only 21st-fastest.
This weekend’s round is the first two-race event in 20 years. The starting order for the second 275-mile race will be determined by a random ballot draw after the first race. Half-points are being awarded in each race.
2011 Firestone Twin 275s Qualifying Results:
|1.||Alex Tagliani||Sam Schmidt Motorsports||215.186|
|2.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi||214.801|
|3.||Will Power||Team Penske||214.716|
|4.||Takuma Sato||KV Racing Technology Lotus||214.470|
|5.||Ed Carpenter||Sarah Fisher Racing||214.373|
|6.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology Lotus||214.252|
|7.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi||214.021|
|8.||Wade Cunningham||Sam Schmidt Motorsports||214.013|
|9.||Ryan Briscoe||Team Penske||213.891|
|10.||Danica Patrick||Andretti Autosport||213.850|
|11.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||213.458|
|12.||Vitor Meira||AJ Foyt Enterprises||213.429|
|13.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||213.232|
|14.||Oriol Servià||Newman/Haas Racing||213.023|
|15.||James Hinchcliffe||Newman/Haas Racing||212.970|
|16.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||212.938|
|17.||Charlie Kimball||Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi||212.797|
|18.||Davey Hamilton||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||212.555|
|19.||EJ Viso||KV Racing Technology Lotus||212.494|
|20.||Graham Rahal||Chip Ganassi||212.404|
|21.||Paul Tracy||Dragon Racing||212.305|
|22.||Mike Conway||Andretti Autosport||212.260|
|23.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||212.223|
|24.||Ana Beatriz||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||212.221|
|25.||Alex Lloyd||Dale Coyne Racing||212.091|
|26.||Sebastian Saavedra||Conquest Racing||212.033|
|27.||Justin Wilson||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||211.762|
|28.||Jay Howard||Rahal / Schmidt||211.691|
|29.||Simona di Silvestro||HVM Racing||210.855mph|
|30.||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||no time|
[Image via IZOD IndyCar Series]