The drivers met as a group last weekend in Detroit and voted to recommend less downforce for the cars at Texas, the first 1.5-mile banked oval since last season. IndyCar accepted the recommendation, but the drivers were divided on the end result Friday.
"The intent is to make it safe, and for everyone's peace of mind, we need to leave here after what happened in Vegas with a safe race, and I think that's important in the mind of everyone," Tagliani said.
Tagliani turned a lap at 215.691 m.p.h. late in Friday's qualifying session to bump Dario Franchitti from the top starting spot, and become the first driver in seven races this season not from Penske Racing or Chip Ganassi Racing to win the pole. Tagliani drives for Bryan Herta Autosport, which sat out the race at Brazil last month while it negotiated a split with underperforming engine manufacturer Lotus.
BHA and Tagliani teamed with Honda before last month's Indianapolis 500, and the switch has shown immediate dividends. Honda also is benefiting: Franchitti went 215.646 to qualify second, Graham Rahal qualified third and Scott Dixon was fourth to give Honda the top four qualifying spots for Saturday night's race.
Spots two through four were claimed by drivers from Chip Ganassi Racing, and IndyCar series points leader Will Power of Penske Racing qualified fifth.
But will it be a good race? Power wryly referenced April's NASCAR race at Texas, which had just two cautions for 10 laps and was the fastest NASCAR race in track history.