Saturday, June 11, 2016

Morning Warm-Up: Texas 2016

Carlos Muñoz starts on his first career IndyCar pole position
After going nearly two years without winning a pole position, Honda has won two pole positions in the last four races. Both pole positions have come on an oval and both pole positions were the first of a driver's career. Carlos Muñoz will start on pole position for the Firestone 600 from Texas Motor Speedway. The Colombian had a two-lap average at 217.137 MPH, the only driver to average over 217 MPH in qualifying. Muñoz's previous best start was second in his IndyCar debut in the 97th Indianapolis 500 in 2013. His previous best start at Texas was fourth last year. Muñoz won six pole positions in Indy Lights and he won from pole position on three occasions. Scott Dixon joins Muñoz on the outside of row one. Dixon's best start this season was second at Long Beach, where he finished second. He won last year at Texas from seventh on the grid. Dixon has won from second on the grid four times in his career, most recently at Homestead in 2010.

Hélio Castroneves entered Texas third in the championship and he will start third in the race. This is the sixth time this season Castroneves has started within the first two rows. Through eight races, Castroneves is the only driver to have completed all 952 laps run. He won from third at Texas in 2006 after leading eight laps. Takuma Sato matches his career best starting position at Texas in fourth. He started the first Twin-275 in 2011 from fourth. He finished fifth in that race. Josef Newgarden qualified fifth, his third top five start of the season. In Newgarden's two other top five starts this season, he finished on the podium. Newgarden hasn't finished better than his starting position in his previous three starts at Texas. Championship leader Simon Pagenaud will start on the outside of row three. This is Pagenaud's fourth top ten start in five Texas starts.

Will Power's consecutive pole position streak at Texas ended at three after the Australian qualified in seventh position. This is Power's second worst starting position at Texas. He started eighth in his Texas debut in 2008. Tony Kanaan qualified eighth, the third time he has started eighth at Texas. He has finished second each time he has started eighth at Texas. Alexander Rossi qualified a career best ninth. Rossi has finished better than his starting position in the last five races. He has qualified better in each oval race after starting 14th at Phoenix and 11th at Indianapolis. James Hinchcliffe will round out the top ten on the grid. It is Hinchcliffe's seventh top ten start this season. He started ninth and finished 14th in his last start at Texas in 2014.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti make it an all-Andretti Autosport row six. Hunter-Reay has only finished in the top ten after starting outside the top ten once at Texas. He went from 24th to seventh in 2010. Andretti will start 12th in his 12th Texas start. He finished fifth last year after starting 11th. Graham Rahal will start 13th, the sixth time he has started outside the top ten at Texas. Rahal won from 13th at Mid-Ohio last season. Rahal's only other time starting 13th on an oval was in his Indianapolis 500 debut in 2008. Rahal would have an accident and finish 33rd. Ed Carpenter will start to the outside of Rahal. Since leading 90 laps on his way to victory at Texas in 2014, Carpenter has led seven lap in his last twelve starts.

Charlie Kimball will start on the inside of row eight. He started 15th at Texas in 2014 and finished tenth. He has finished in the top ten the last two years at Texas and has improved on his finishing position every year at Texas. Mikhail Aleshin joins Kimball on row two. The Russian started 11th and finished seventh in his Texas debut in 2014. Juan Pablo Montoya will start 17th after starting fourth and fifth in his first two Texas starts. Sébastien Bourdais qualified in 18th position. The Frenchman's best finish at Texas is 14th. Bourdais has finished in the top ten in his last two oval starts.

Max Chilton and Jack Hawksworth will start on an all-British row ten. Chilton is making his debut at Texas. After completing all but two laps in the first six races, Chilton completed only eight of 140 laps at Belle Isle. Hawksworth retired in last year's race after a suspension failure and finished in last place. Conor Daly and Gabby Chaves make it an all-Dale Coyne Racing row eleven. Like Chilton, Daly is making his Texas debut. Chaves had an accident in practice prevent him from making a qualifying attempt.

NBCSN's coverage of the Firestone 600 from Texas Motor Speedway will begin at 2:00 p.m. ET with green flag at 2:15 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 248 laps.