Sato blasts to pole position at Texas

by Jordan Groves

Takuma Sato has taken pole position for the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. The Japanese driver for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing edged out Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon to take his ninth-career pole position in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Heading into qualifying, the overall pecking order at Texas Motor Speedway was still somewhat up in the air. The qualifying format for this weekend would see drivers completing two consecutive laps on a qualifying run, with their result being the average of the two laps. The cars would head out one-by-one in the reverse championship order, meaning that championship-leader Josef Newgarden would head out last.

Heading into the final few runs of qualifying, it was Dale Coyne Racing‘s Sebastien Bourdais who had been looking good in the hunt for pole position with his early run of 219.746-mph. However, when Takuma Sato took to the track, he would set a blistering pace.

Sato would become the first man in qualifying to lap in the 220-mph range, setting an average speed of 220.250-mph on the way to taking the top spot on the scoring pylon. Four drivers would run after him, with only Dixon getting close enough to make Sato sweat. Dixon would just miss out on beating Sato’s time by only two-hundredths of a second across his two-lap run, meaning that Sato would secure pole position for the 2019 DXC Technology 600.

The result would be Sato’s ninth-career pole position in the NTT IndyCar Series and only his third to have come on on oval, following on from his pole positions at Iowa Speedway in 2011 and Pocono Raceway in 2017.

Dixon’s 220-mph run would put him in second place for the race. Despite the disappointment of missing out on pole position by barely a fraction of a second, the New Zealander will be confident heading into the race, where he will attempt to take his second win of the season, his second in succession and his fourth Texas win.

Sebastien Bourdais will line-up in third place on the grid at the track that he has frequently stated that he is not a fan of. Alongside him on the second-row will be fourth-placed Ryan Hunter-Reay, with both drivers vying for their first victories of the year.

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

Last month’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, will start from fifth on the grid. The Frenchman will be aiming to take a second consecutive oval win to try and put himself back on top in the championship standings. He will be joined on the third row of the grid by a man who joined him on the front-row back at Indianapolis, Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Spencer Pigot, who put in a solid run to take the sixth spot on the grid.

Championship-leader Josef Newgarden will start in seventh-place after a less than an ideal lap. Arrow Schmidt Peterson‘s James Hinchcliffe will be right behind him in eighth, with Graham Rahal and Colton Herta completing the top ten. Herta was the highest-placed rookie in the session.

Alexander Rossi, who sits second in the championship standings, will start eleventh tomorrow. He will be hoping to charge his way through the order as he did in Indianapolis to put himself in contention for the race win. Team-mate Zach Veach will start right behind him.

It was a disappointing session for Ed Carpenter. The man who seems to always be in contention on the ovals was puzzled by his lack of pace on his qualifying run that saw him qualify only thirteenth. Another man who will be disappointed will be Team Penske‘s Will Power, who, for the third race in a row will start far down the order after qualifying a lowly fifteenth.

Carpenter and Power will at least take comfort in having had better showings than fellow veterans Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan. The pair will share the final row of the grid after both made mistakes on their laps. Andretti was on a strong run after his first lap when he went wide in turns one and two and was forced to back off to stop the car from hitting the wall. As a result, his average speed was only 206.901-mph.

Kanaan, on the other hand, did not manage to avoid hitting the wall. The A.J. Foyt Enterprises driver pushed wide on the exit of turn two and slapped the wall with his right-rear corner. He abandoned his run after the hit with the wall, meaning that he will start last after failing to complete a lap.

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

2019 NTT IndyCar Series – DXC Technology 600 – Qualifying results:

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMSPEED
130Takuma SatoJAPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing220.250
29Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing220.162
318Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan219.746
428Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport219.537
522Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske219.355
621Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing219.099
72Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske218.666
85James HinchcliffeCANArrow Schmidt Peterson218.459
915Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing218.449
1088Colton Herta (R)USAHarding Steinbrenner Racing218.406
1127Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport218.295
1226Zach VeachUSAAndretti Autosport218.074
1320Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing217.982
147Marcus Ericsson (R)SWEArrow Schmidt Peterson217.953
1512Will PowerAUSTeam Penske217.899
1610Felix Rosenqvist (R)SWEChip Ganassi Racing217.182
1723Charlie KimballUSACarlin217.165
1819Santino Ferrucci (R)USADale Coyne Racing217.063
1959Conor DalyUSACarlin216.175
204Matheus LeistBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises215.093
2198Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta206.901
2214Tony KanaanBRAA.J. Foyt EnterprisesDNQ

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