Alex Tagliani Completes Day of Surprises By Winning Indy 500 Pole

5/22/11 in IndyCar   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

The wild, crazy, and at times wet day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ended with Alex Tagliani of Sam Schmidt Motorsports winning the pole for next Sunday's Indianapolis 500. The results for the day belied anything but the expected Penske and Ganassi dominance. Tagliani was the quickest qualifier during the "regular" session, and then backed it up in the Fast Nine shootout. Tagliani's speed of 227.472 mph was able to nip Scott Dixon's 227.340. Joining the two on the front row is Newman/Haas's Oriol Servia.

Among the other highlights and lowlights of Pole Day:
  • Dario Franchitti looked to be a sure front row participant, but inexplicably ran out of fuel on the final lap of his Fast Nine Shootout run.
  • Sarah Fisher Racing and driver Ed Carpenter continued their Cinderella run by making the Fast Nine and overall qualifying 8th.
  • Sam Schmidt Motorsports as a whole were excellent, with Townsend Bell qualifying 4th, and Dan Wheldon, who's running with support from SSM, qualifying 6th. Sam Schmidt, of course, was a driver before becoming a quadriplegic in a racing accident.
  • Simona De Silvestro came back from a terrible accident Thursday, resulting in significant burns on her hands, to take the final allotted spot of the day, 24th. At 224.392 mph though, she could still be bumped today if she ends up the slowest once the field is filled.
  • On the low side, Penske had a horrible day. Ryan Briscoe crashed in morning practice, and they couldn't get the backup car in. Helio Castroneves shocked everyone by only managing 16th. Will Power salvaged the day by making the Fast Nine and qualifying 5th, but overall a very un-Penske like day.
  • It was worse for Andretti Autosport. A slow month turned into a slow Pole Day, as only John Andretti was able to make the race, qualifying 17th. AA's four full-time drivers: Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Mike Conway. must try and qualify today.
  • Also notably not in the field yet: Paul Tracy, Graham Rahal, Alex Lloyd, Charlie Kimball, Ana Beatriz
  • After a Friday full of rumors he had quit his team, Scott Speed did not attempt a qualifying run Saturday. This morning, Patrick Carpentier was put in Speed's car, where he promptly wrecked it. At this point, it's highly unlikely that the ex-F1 and NASCAR driver will make the 500.
Bump Day begins at noon today and runs through 6:00. Today we fill the entire grid for the 95th running of the Indianapolis 500.
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