Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Alex Tagliani takes pole for Indianapolis 500

Alex Tagliani, right, celebrates with wheelchair-bound team owner Sam Schmidt after his car earns the pole for the May 29 Indianapolis 500. Schmidt was paralyzed in a racing accident 11 years ago in Orlando and now owns Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Getty Images

Alex Tagliani, right, celebrates with wheelchair-bound team owner Sam Schmidt after his car earns the pole for the May 29 Indianapolis 500. Schmidt was paralyzed in a racing accident 11 years ago in Orlando and now owns Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

INDIANAPOLIS — How do you explain Alex Tagliani winning the Indy 500 pole?

He can't, but he knows two things — he's the first Canadian to do it, and he can now afford the coffee table he wants.

"Now there's money," he said of the nearly $200,000 for earning the pole Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a four-lap average speed of 227.472 mph in qualifying for the May 29 race.

How do you figure Sam Schmidt as the pole-sitting team owner? Try perseverance.

"Leading the race here (as a driver) in 1999 was special," Schmidt said, "but there's always a burning desire to finish what's unfinished. This is one huge step forward."

That's especially true for Schmidt, paralyzed during a testing crash in Orlando in 2000. He formed Sam Schmidt Motorsports a year later.

"When something like that happens," he said, "you can choose to stay home and watch CNN on TV, or you can do something with your life. I've done a lot of things in my life."

Tagliani was the last driver to make an attempt in the shootout that ended qualifying. He edged Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon, the 2008 champ, who was second at 227.340. The top nine after the first round of qualifying were allowed to make another run at the pole in the last 90 minutes.

Tagliani hadn't won a pole in eight years, and that was in Milwaukee, in Champ Car.

"Sam accepted my offer to be part of this adventure," said the native of Lachenaie, Quebec. "He took the risk. To do this here on the 100th anniversary, it just happens once."

Schmidt achieved this despite lacking the funding of power team owners Ganassi, Roger Penske and Michael Andretti.

Ganassi driver and defending Indy 500 champ Dario Franchitti was gunning for second until running out of fuel on the final qualifying lap. That put him ninth in the field.

Only the top 24 spots were set, and rain suspended qualifying at 3:36 p.m. That left Simona de Silvestro 24th, the last car in, just two days after a fiery crash left her with second-degree burns on her hands.

The final nine spots will be determined today. After that, bumping begins, with the slowest speeds regardless of when the cars qualified being eliminated, though those drivers can try to bump their way back in.

Andretti's team was badly outpaced, with only John Andretti, Michael's cousin who is doing the 500 as a one-race deal, qualified. The team's four full-time drivers, including Danica Patrick, will have to make it into the 33-car field today.

NHRA: Tony Schumacher led qualifying at the Summer Nationals in Topeka, Kan., extending his Top Fuel class record for No. 1 spots to 64. Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) led their classes heading into today's eliminations.

FORMULA ONE: Mark Webber edged Red Bull teammate and series leader Sebastian Vettel for the pole for today's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

NATIONWIDE: Qualifying was rained out for today's John Deere 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton. That left the field to be set by owner's points, putting little-known Joe Gibbs Racing driver Drew Herring on the pole in his first series race of the year.

Alex Tagliani takes pole for Indianapolis 500 05/21/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 22, 2011 5:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. L.A. delay could re-open Super Bowl chance for Tampa in 2021

    Blogs

    Construction delays on the NFL's new stadium in Los Angeles mean the Rams and Chargers won't be playing there until 2020, a year later than expected, and the ripple effect could give Tampa another chance at landing a Super Bowl in February 2021.

    Tampa and Raymond James Stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals.
  2. Bucs' Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston honored in NFL top 100

    Blogs

    Helping fans pass time through the offseason each summer, NFL Network has been unveiling its top 100 players for 2017 as chosen by the players, and the Bucs' Gerald McCoy and Jameis Winston are the first Tampa Bay players revealed, coming in at No. 52 and 57, respectively.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis WInston and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, shown in the 2016 season finale against the Panthers, have both been named to the NFL Network's top 100 players for 2017.
  3. The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.
  4. Former Gator Caleb Brantley paying a steep price for nothing

    Bucs

    It turns out Caleb Brantley isn't quite the dirtbag that millions of people presumed. It's too bad the damage to his reputation and bank account is already done.

    Caleb Brantley, who dropped to the sixth round of the draft, works out during Browns rookie minicamp. [Associated Press]
  5. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Daniel Robertson walks off the field after being left stranded at first base to end the game.