In the weeks leading up to the Indy 500, it's become clear Alex Tagliani has one of the fastest, if not the fastest, cars in the field. But having the fastest car in practices and qualifying means little and Tagliani is still unsure how he'll run in traffic. As the pole-sitter for Sunday's Indianapolis 500, he'll start in clean air and at the front of the pack after turning in the fastest lap during the first qualifying session, then besting his speed during the afternoon's final session last Saturday.
Tagliani knows his car is fast but is also aware that running in turbulence and in the pack is a whole different ballgame. During Friday's Carb Day, the goal wasn't just to put up good numbers -- though he did have the second-fastest lap of the day. Instead, Tagliani was chasing traffic and getting a feel for his race-day setup, just like the rest of the field.
"I was quite happy with the balance of the car," said Tagliani, a Canadian who drives for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the Izod IndyCar Series. "I was trying to find myself some traffic because I wanted to see what the car was capable of doing in turbulence.
Conditions will almost surely change between Friday's final practice and Sunday's race. Temperatures are expected to stretch into the 80s or 90s, a far cry from the pouring rain that's washed out much of the pre-race sessions. But if Tagliani's IndyCar is dialed-in, as it has been for much of the practice and qualifying sessions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he should find himself turning some of the fastest laps. And if he can find clean air and hang onto his position at the front, watch out on Sunday at Indy.
For more on the race, stay with our 2011 Indy 500 StoryStream. Be sure to head over to Pop Off Valve for all things IndyCar, including the three excellent Indy 500 resources: The Indy 500 experience, Indy 500 traditions and the history of the Indy 500 and the Brickyard.