A cloud cover vaulted Takuma Sato to the pole for tomorrow nights DXC Technology 600 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

The driver of the No. 30 Abeam Consulting Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was the 18th driver to qualify and caught a lucky break when a system of clouds briefly cooled the 1.44-mile oval, which saw track temperatures peak at over 110 degrees.

That propelled Sato to a two-lap average run of 220.250 mph, which stood as the fastest time of the day.

The former Formula 1 driver was pleased to get the pole but emphasized the unpredictability of Texas means managing the race smart.

"To be on pole is great, but at this track, you can do completely anything possible from the back row," he said. "I'm not really back off on that, of course. But certainly the team gave us unbelievable speed of the car. Just a phenomenal feeling to go that fast through the corners. In fact, I was keeping on the lower side of the range. Car working extremely well."

The pole is Sato's ninth NTT IndyCar Series pole and second of the season having won the pole at Barber in March. It also marks his third pole on an oval, the first coming at Iowa in 2011 and Pocono in 2017.

Sato’s greatest challenge came from Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon. The defending Texas race winner was the only other driver to eclipse the 220 mph two-lap average and logged his sixth front row start at TMS.

Sebastien Bourdais also benefitted from a cloud covered and ended up third, which stands as his best oval starting spot since qualifying third at Auto Club Speedway in 2013. Completing a Honda sweep of the front two rows is Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay.

A trio of Chevrolets filled out positions five through seven led with Ed Carpenter Racing's Spencer Pigot sandwiched between two Team Penske entries in sixth place. Indy 500 winner Simon Pageanud was the quickest Penske car in fifth with points leader Josef Newgarden ending up sixth.

The players from 2016's TMS photo finish ended up eighth and ninth led by James Hinchcliffe and Graham Rahal in ninth. Colton Herta the quickest rookie in tenth place which stands as his fifth straight top ten starting spot.

A pair of championship contenders fond themselves outside the top ten as Alexander Rossi struggled to find speed and ended up 11th, ahead of his Andretti Autosport teammate Zach Veach. Two-time Texas race winner Will Power also wriggled with an ill-handling No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet which landed him 15th on the grid.

Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan both had incidents on their respective runs which dropped them to the back row of the grid. Andretti got out of the throttle big time on his second lap while Kanaan tagged the wall coming off Turn 2 and terminated his attempt.

 

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