Despite mild speculation that it may opt for another driver this weekend, Conquest Racing has stuck with the man it wangled a place for in the Indianapolis 500 as it returns to the IndyCar Series fray at Texas Motor Speedway.
Alex Tagliani duly collected rookie of the year honours at the Brickyard, having been substituted for Bruno Junqueira in Conquest's sole qualified entry, but the team sat out last weekend's Milwaukee event and appeared with TBA against its driver selection ahead of the Bombardier Learjet 550k. That led to suggestions that it may consider Tomas Scheckter - a potential Indy 500 recruit - for the Texas round, but these proved unfounded as Tagliani appeared in Thursday evening practice.
The Canadian's presence will certainly be explained by the inclusion of Northlands and premier event Rexall Edmonton Indy among the team's backers for this weekend's night race. The Canadian event - which graces the IRL schedule over 24-26 July - will appear alongside other Indy 500 partners Lifelock, TDS and King Tut on the #34 car. Tagliani spent time in Edmonton, doing promotional work for the upcoming IndyCar race, between events with Conquest.
“The race at Texas Motor Speedway is always a great event to take part in and we're very happy to be heading there this week," team boss Eric Bachelart commented, "We had a good run at Indy and we look forward to continuing what we started there a couple of weeks ago at what will be only our second oval race this season. We're also very happy to be continuing our relationship with Northlands, TDS, Lifelock and the King Tut Exhibit.”
Tagliani, meanwhile, will be completing an unusual first this weekend. The Canadian veteran has driven on the Texas Motor Speedway oval before, but this will be the first time he'll actually compete in a race there, having been a part of the abortive Champ Car visit to Fort Worth. On that occasion, the Firestone Firehawk 600, the majority of drivers complained of dizziness and disorientation after experiencing sustained forces measuring around 5G and, with the possibility of them blacking out during a long race, CART cancelled the event two hours before the scheduled start.
"I remember my first time at Texas in 2001, back when I was in CART, and it was pretty crazy having to cancel the race because of the sustained G forces," Tagliani admitted, "I enjoyed running at Texas back then, so I'm looking forward to my first race here this weekend.
"I'm still fresh from our great run and unbelievable experience at Indy, and this weekend will again be important for us. We will keep on doing our best and it will be a great opportunity for us to keep progressing on these types of tracks."