By: Spencer Neff
June 7, 2019 | 8:04 PM
In each of the first two practice sessions for the DXC Technology 600, Takuma Sato finished second. During qualifying on Friday evening, he was able to improve by one spot.
On Saturday night, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver will start from the pole at Texas Motor Speedway for “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race.”
With a two-lap average of 220.250 mph (47.0738 seconds) around the 1.44-mile oval, Sato earns his second NTT P1 Award of 2019. On April 6, he won the pole at Barber Motorsports Park and won the race a day later.
This is Sato’s ninth career pole and third on an oval, his first such pole since 2017 at Pocono Raceway. Additionally, RLLR earns their 32nd pole as a team and first on an oval since 2007, when Scott Sharp did so at Texas Motor Speedway.
In 10 previous starts at Texas, Sato’s previous best start was fourth – which he achieved in Race 1 of the 2011 doubleheader and again in 2016.
During that 2011 race, Sato earned his lone career top-five at TMS. In the last two races at Texas, he has earned finishes of 10th and seventh.
Speaking of 2016, Sato will look to match teammate Graham Rahal’s triumph in that year’s Texas race. That is RLLR’s lone win at TMS to date. Tomorrow night, Rahal will start ninth on the grid.
Honda sweeps first four spots
Lining up beside Sato is three-time Texas Motor Speedway winner Scott Dixon. Not only is the Chip Ganassi Racing driver the defending series champion and TMS race winner but he also won the last race at Belle Isle just five days ago.
Completing a sweep of the front two rows for Honda are Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Huner-Reay. The Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan and Andretti Autosport racers will line up behind Sato and Dixon.
Starting fifth is Indianapolis 500 pole sitter and winner Simon Pagenaud. After his winning performance on the first oval of the year 12 days ago, the 2016 series champion is the fastest Chevrolet entry.
Alongside Pagenaud is Chevrolet stablemate Spencer Pigot of Ed Carpenter Racing. With Pagenaud’s teammate and points leader Josef Newgarden starting seventh, six different teams occupy the first six spots.
Following an impressive performance in practice, Colton Herta will start 10th. In his second oval race as part of the NTT IndyCar Series, the Harding Steinbrenner Racing rookie is again the fastest of the first-year drivers.
On March 24, Herta won his first race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Tomorrow night, he looks to make it 2 for 2 in Texas.
Rain briefly interrupts Qualifying; Veterans run into Trouble
Yesterday, the rain brought an early end to the first practice session. During today’s qualifying, there was a momentary stoppage as IndyCar and TMS officials conducted a track inspection.
Despite reports of some sprinkles on track, qualifying was able to run towards completion with all 22 drivers recording an attempt.
There were some struggles during the attempts, however. On his first qualifying lap, Tony Kanaan hit the Turn 2 wall and was unable to complete his run.
As TK looks to tie his car owner, A.J. Foyt, for second all-time on the all-time starts list, the 2004 Texas Motor Speedway winner will start last among the 22 cars.
Shortly after Kanaan, Marco Andretti also experienced issues of his own. On the second lap of his qualifying attempt, the Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajanian driver got loose in Turn 2.
Although he was able to save his car from hitting the wall, Andretti’s speed tumbled and he will start beside Kanaan in 21st.
The race will go green at 8:45 PM Eastern on NBCSN Saturday night. Fans can check out RaceControl.IndyCar.com for live timing and scoring as well as radio commentary from the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network.
Lastly, continue to check out Open-Wheels.com for all the latest news and developments. In addition to coverage of all on-track sessions, we will have additional content online. Also, don’t forget to follow us on our social media pages via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Header Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR.