Friday on-track activity at Texas Motor Speedway experienced a delayed start due to inclement weather but qualifying avoided rain and broke Verizon IndyCar Series records with Charlie Kimball earning his first career pole.
Marco Andretti was the first driver in line to qualify in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport machine and demonstrated Honda’s speed early, eclipsing Will Power’s standing track record from 2013 with a two-lap average of 220.318 mph.
Graham Rahal, third to qualify and coming off two victories at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit doubleheader, broke Andretti’s short-lived record with a two-lap average of 220.954 mph in the No. 15 Honda.
Rahal remained atop the leaderboard through the next three qualifying runs until 2017 Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato hit the track. Further demonstrating Honda’s stout superspeedway package, Sato’s 221.458 mph two-lap average put the No. 26 Andretti Autosport machine on the provisional pole. The Japanese driver’s last pole came less than one week prior in Detroit.
Following attempts by Ed Carpenter and Will Power to top Sato’s speed in their Chevrolet-powered cars, Tony Kanaan turned the first laps to average over 222 mph, establishing another new track record and putting the popular Brazilian driver on the provisional pole.
James Hinchcliffe and Simon Pagenaud qualified after Kanaan and were both off the Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s pace. Building on his teammate’s speed, Scott Dixon pushed the No. 9 Honda to another record speed at Texas, averaging 222.629 mph and earning the provisional pole with nine drivers left to qualify.
Helio Castroneves, JR Hildebrand, Tristan Vautier and Alexander Rossi all took their shots to deny Dixon the Verizon P1 award and all fell short.
Vautier turned in a two-lap average just shy of 222 mph, placing him third on the provisional grid in his substitute role driving the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda in place of the recovering Sebastien Bourdais.
Charlie Kimball, the third Ganassi driver to qualify, exceeded his teammate’s pace in the No. 83 Honda. Averaging 222.556 mph over two laps, Kimball established new two-lap average and single lap records at Texas. The Novo Nordisk-backed driver’s second lap was 222.747 mph.
Though three more drivers attempted to dethrone Kimball, none were successful and the driver earned his first career Verizon IndyCar Series pole in what will be his 109th start. He last started on the front row at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2016.
The pole marks the 89th for Chip Ganassi Racing and the second for the team in 2017 following Dixon’s pole-winning performance on the IMS oval.
Rossi’s two-lap average earned him a second-row start alongside Kanaan while Vautier and Max Chilton qualified in Row 3. Mikhail Aleshin and Sato turned laps good enough for fourth-row starts, locking out the top eight for Honda.
Power and Castroneves, starting eighth and ninth, respectively, were the top-qualifying Chevrolet-backed drivers.
Munoz Misses Tech, Fails to Qualify
The final row of the 11-car grid will be occupied by both AJ Foyt Racing drivers following a 215.521 mph two-lap average for Conor Daly and no attempt at all for Carlos Munoz.
The No. 14 Chevrolet of Munoz missed technical inspection and was subsequently not allowed to make a qualifying attempt by INDYCAR.
No hubo clasificación para nosotros debido a que llegamos tarde a revisión técnica…
No qualifying for us because we were late for tech…
— Carlos Munoz (@CarlosMunoz034) June 9, 2017
Per the team, the car was just a few minutes late to the tech inspection line.
“It was too bad the guys had a little issue and we were a couple minutes late to get in line,” said Larry Foyt. “Due to that, the League said we couldn’t qualify. It’s a shame and it’s on us.
“We’ll figure out why it happened and we won’t let it happen again. You can still do really well from starting in the back here so hopefully we’ll have a good race car. We have final practice tonight and we’ll go out and do the best we can.”
The series will be back on track for a brief 30-minute practice session at 5:45 p.m. CDT. The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 will go green at 8:45 p.m. with the checkered flag following after 248 laps.