Saturday, June 15, 2019

Sato Scores Second 2019 Pole in Texas

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Takuma Sato coupled necessary speed with impressive consistency to secure his second pole position of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season as the grid was set for this year’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Lined up in reverse entrant points order, Sato was the 18th driver to qualify of 22 and laid down a quick 220.433 mph first lap in his No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. While not the fastest speed of the qualifying procession, Sato’s second lap at 220.067 mph ensured his two-lap average of 220.250 mph placed him on the provisional pole with just four drivers yet to qualify.

Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden entered the Texas weekend ahead of Sato in the points but couldn’t top his speed, allowing the 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner to earn his second NTT P1 Award of 2019 and the ninth pole of his career.

Delivering RLL its 32nd pole and first at Texas in 12 years, Sato earned his third oval pole and first since qualifying on top at Pocono Raceway a few months after his Indy 500 win two seasons ago.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dixon came closest to unseating Sato with a strong 220.397 mph first lap, but fall-off on the second lap negatively impacted his average speed. After executing a 220.162 mph two-lap average, Dixon will start from the front row alongside Sato in his third front-row start of the year.

Tony Kanaan scowl after Texas IndyCar qualifying crash
Tony Kanaan’s 369th Indy car start will tie his boss A.J. Foyt but will see him begin from the back of the pack. | Photo: Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media

Sebastien Bourdais, who was 12th to qualify, was impressive early with a 220.443 mph first lap. His second lap was significantly slower at 219.054 mph, relegating him to a starting position from the inside of Row 2 — still his best starting position of 2019 thus far and the best of his career at the Texas superspeedway.

Ryan Hunter-Reay delivered a lockout of the top four starting positions for Honda while new Indy 500 winner Pagenaud represented Chevrolet’s best effort with the fifth-fastest two-lap average in his Team Penske-prepared car that carries the same primary sponsorship as the race.

Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan will start from the last row on the grid. Andretti avoided crashing his unruly car on the second lap of his attempt, but couldn’t escape a poor average speed of 196.147 mph. Kanaan abandoned his qualifying run after contacting the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier on his first flying lap.

The 22-car field will be back on track next for the 248-lap race. The green flag is expected to fly at 7:45 p.m. CDT, 45 minutes after NBCSN’s live television coverage kicks off at 8 p.m. EDT.

Ben Hinc
Ben Hinchttp://www.benhinc.com
Ben's executive editor title is purposefully broad to encompass the bottomless list of roles he fills for The Apex, which includes webmaster, graphic designer, quality consultant and writer. Ben's technical background and progressive media distribution approach set The Apex apart technologically and philosophically.

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