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Tagliani secures shock Indy pole

Alex Tagliani celebrates Indy 500 poleAlex Tagliani and Sam Schmidt Motorsports earned a sensational pole position for the centenary Indianapolis 500 as they proved their practice and early qualifying form was no fluke in the final pole shoot-out.

Despite suspecting that the likes of Ganassi and Penske would be able to raise their game for the decisive 'fast nine' session - as had been the case 12 months ago when he had also led the first part of qualifying - Tagliani proved up to the challenge this year with a four-lap run averaging 227.472mph to secure a shock pole.

Ganassi's efforts were blunted by both its cars running low on fuel. Scott Dixon looked like he might have been slightly too quick for Tagliani to beat, but he lost speed on his final lap as the car ran dry exiting Turn 4, leaving Dixon second on the grid.

His team-mate Dario Franchitti, last year's Indy winner, was even worse affected, not even completing his qualifying run before his fuel ran out.

For a while Oriol Servia looked like he might give Newman/Haas its first Indy 500 pole since 1987, as he held the provisional top spot until Tagliani and Dixon's late runs. The Spaniard completed the front row in third.

Sam Schmidt's excellent day continued with Tagliani's team-mate Townsend Bell taking fourth, and Dan Wheldon's Schmidt-assisted Bryan Herta Autosport car qualifying sixth.

They sandwich championship leader Will Power, as Penske's muted qualifying day continued with fifth on the grid for its only driver in the pole shoot-out.

2004 Indy winner Buddy Rice took seventh for Panther, ahead of Sarah Fisher Racing's Ed Carpenter.

The remaining grid positions will be set during Sunday's Bump Day qualifying. Leading drivers still trying to get into the race include Penske's Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi's Graham Rahal, Dreyer & Reinbold driver Paul Tracy and all four of Andretti Autosport's full-time entrants.

Pos  Driver               Team                     Speed
 1.  Alex Tagliani        Sam Schmidt              227.472mph
 2.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi                  227.340mph
 3.  Oriol Servia         Newman/Haas              227.168mph
 4.  Townsend Bell        Sam Schmidt              226.887mph
 5.  Will Power           Penske                   226.773mph
 6.  Dan Wheldon          Herta                    226.490mph
 7.  Buddy Rice           Panther                  225.786mph
 8.  Ed Carpenter         Sarah Fisher             225.121mph
 9.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi
10.  Takuma Sato          KV                       225.736mph
11.  Vitor Meira          Foyt                     225.590mph
12.  JR Hildebrand        Panther                  225.579mph
13.  James Hinchcliffe    Newman/Haas              225.572mph
14.  Bertrand Baguette    Rahal Letterman Lanigan  225.285mph
15.  Davey Hamilton       Dreyer & Reinbold        225.250mph
16.  Helio Castroneves    Penske                   225.216mph
17.  John Andretti        Petty/Andretti           224.981mph
18.  EJ Viso              KV                       224.732mph
19.  Bruno Junqueira      Foyt                     224.691mph
20.  Justin Wilson        Dreyer & Reinbold        224.511mph
21.  Jay Howard           Rahal/Schmidt            224.483mph
22.  Tomas Scheckter      KV/SH                    224.433mph
23.  Tony Kanaan          KV                       224.417mph
24.  Simona de Silvestro  HVM                      224.392mph

Yet to qualify:

     Paul Tracy           Dreyer & Reinbold        224.353mph
     Charlie Kimball      Ganassi                  224.262mph
     Ana Beatriz          Dreyer & Reinbold        224.258mph
     Ryan Briscoe         Penske                   224.134mph
     Marco Andretti       Andretti                 224.074mph
     Danica Patrick       Andretti                 223.831mph
     Graham Rahal         Ganassi                  223.822mph
     Alex Lloyd           Dale Coyne               223.564mph
     Pippa Mann           Conquest                 223.070mph
     Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti                 222.951mph
     Raphael Matos        AFS                      222.786mph
     Mike Conway          Andretti                 222.247mph
     James Jakes          Dale Coyne               221.846mph
     Sebastian Saavedra   Conquest                 221.526mph
     Ho-Pin Tung          Schmidt/Dragon
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