Alex Tagliani Claims The Indy 500 Pole

(photo courtesy IZOD IndyCar series)

It is quite surprising that Canadian race car driver from Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Alex Tagliani, out drove the drivers from the bigger, better funded teams like Penske Racing and Target Ganassi Racing for the  2011 Indy 500 pole!

Backing up his impressive speed numbers from practice, Tagliani, of Sam Schmidt Motorsports bagged the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone during the Fast Nine segment Saturday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The final driver to qualify, Tagliani’s four-lap/10-mile average around the 2.5-mile oval of 227.472 mph allowed him to grab P1 from Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who averaged 227.340 mph. Meanwhile, Oriol Servia of Newman/Haas Racing will start from the outside of the three-car front row after posting a four-lap average of 227.168 mph.

Tagliani, 28, is the first Canadian-born driver to win an Indy 500 pole.  His previous best start at IMS was fifth in 2010, with the FAZZT Race Team he founded. Schmidt, a former IZOD IndyCar Series driver who was paralyzed after an accident in testing in 2000, acquired the assets of FAZZT in March 2011 with the idea of challenging series juggernauts Ganassi Racing and Team Penske.

“I’m probably going to be pinching myself until I go to bed,” said Tagliani, driver of the #77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara-Honda. “It’s been an amazing team effort. We have a great group of people, and the additions with the other cars. I had good input from Alex Tagliani picked up some hardware at Indy Saturday.”

“I wanted this one so bad,” he continued.

“This is a reward for Sam as well,” Tagliani said of Schmidt, who is celebrating his 10th year as a team owner at IMS. “He got involved and helped to continue (the organization). He’s an amazing team leader and this is a great result for him. I hope there’s more to come.”

“I felt that we had a fast car not only today, but all month, and thought we would hit a 226 during today’s qualifying run,” said Patrick, driver of the #7 Team GoDaddy entry. “I felt really comfortable with the car, and it felt effortlessly fast and it wasn’t really slow until this morning. All I can think of is something we missed or something happened with the track, maybe, and everyone is putting a new set of rubber on and it changed. We just have to buckle down at this point. I guess we are going to have to risk it a little more come tomorrow.”

So it appears that, at least the run for the pole for the Indy 500, there was a little more of the David and Goliath story in racing.  Next Sunday will mark the 100th running of the Indy 500.  There are many underlying stories that unfolded on qualifying weekend, more on those stories in another post!

WOMR will be making a return to those hallowed grounds as a spectator for the 100th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.  The anxiety is already starting to build!

See you from The Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


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