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Tagliani claims pole again in Texas

Alex Tagliani took pole position for Saturday evening's Firestone 550k, his second consecutive pole at Texas Motor Speedway after also posting the best time in 2011.
Bryan Herta Autosport's Alex Tagliani has fond memories of Texas Motor Speedway: last year he claimed pole here for the Sam Schmidt Motorsport team, coming off starting on pole position at Indianapolis. And this year he was able to repeat the feat again - in Texas if not at Indy - with a two-lap average speed of 215.691mph putting him into pole for Saturday evening's Firestone 550k.

Tagliani posted two laps of 24.2730s and 24.2965s for a total time of 48.5695s, in the first race of the 2012 season utilising the traditional oval qualification format: each driver going out in a pre-set order to run one warm-up lap followed by two qualifying laps that together provide the average lap speed and total combined aggregate time.

Marco Andretti had been one of the early runners to go top with a qualifying effort of 214.424mph (48.8564s), but he was soon displaced from provisional pole by his Andretti Autosport team mate James Hinchliffe posting a qualifying speed of 214.920mph (48.7438s).

Hinchcliffe held on to the pole until Ganassi's Dario Franchitti went fastest with an effort of 215.646mph (48.5797s). Penske's Will Power seemed on course to better that when his first run was two hundredths of a second faster than Dario's, but he couldn't sustain the pace on the second lap when he hit the rev limiter and instead settled into second place between Franchitti and Hinchcliffe.

"Just got the hard limiter," said Power afterwards. "Totally killed it. Otherwise, it would have been an incredible run."

Power was further bumped down by Franchitti's Ganassi stablemates Graham Rahal (215.554mph, 48.6003s) and Scott Dixon (215.331mph, 48.6507s) - who also both had rev limiter problems - and it looked as though the team had a firm grip on the top three spots for the start of Saturday evening's long-distance race.

But then Alex Tagliani came out to show them how to do it, claiming the top spot by a margin of just 0.0102s. His 2012 pole time of 215.691mph exceeded that of the 2011 benchmark of 215.186mph, proving that the new-specification DW12 IndyCar and engine was already proving a match for its long-running predecessor.

"It was good," said Tagliani, praising the new Honda engine that BHA had signed up for after negotiating a split from their original engine providers, Lotus. "I think we're there. It's looking good for the rest of the year. Since Indy, we're really strong."

While it was Tagliani's third series pole and his second consecutive one at Texas, it was the first time that Bryan Herta Autosport will start at the front of an IndyCar race.

Two cars failed to post laps within 105 per cent of Tagliani's pole speed. In JR Hildebrand's case, a mistake on his out lap meant that he had to put in "a serious save on warmup" in order to keep it out of the wall: "Our aero-balance just came in way off," he admitted afterwards on Twitter. "Got some work to do for sure for the race, but I'm sure we can make it happen."




Related Pictures

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Alex Tagliani celebrates his second consecutive pole position of the season for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, for the first race of the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway - June 2011. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Alex Tagliani watches the on-track action during Friday Practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 20. [Picture credit: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media]
Pole Winner Alex Tagliani and the Bryan Herta Autosport team (c) 2012 Michael L. Levitt LAT Photo USA (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Scott Dixon spins during practice (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his daughter Mikaella after winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power in action during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in action during practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power sits in his pit stand prior to practice for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon streaks across the start/finish line during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon crosses the start/finish line during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power sits on pit lane prior to the evening Open Test session at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand prior to track activity during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon leaves pit lane (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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