Charlie Kimball takes first career IndyCar pole in Texas (VIDEO)

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Charlie Kimball secured his first career Verizon IndyCar Series pole on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, knocking off teammate Scott Dixon in qualifying for Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Kimball’s average speed over two laps clocked in at 222.556 mph, narrowly eclipsing Dixon’s average of 222.516 mph.

For Kimball, it his his first pole in 109 career IndyCar starts, his previous best being second at the 2016 INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. It is also the 89th pole for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I’m really excited to be on pole. The guys totally deserve it,” said an ecstatic Kimball. “Everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing has been working so hard and the boys have had my back all year long through the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s so nice to be able to repay them with a pole position here at Texas Motor Speedway. The No. 83 Tresiba Honda was really good right out of the box and (engineer Todd (Malloy) made a few adjustments that made it better during the course of practice. During qualifying we just took a swing at it and went out and got the job done.”

All four of Chip Ganassi’s cars flexed their muscle during qualifying at Texas, with Dixon qualifying second (his fourth front row appearance in nine races), Tony Kanaan qualifying fourth, and Max Chilton qualifying sixth.

Alexander Rossi qualified third for Andretti Autosport while Tristan Vautier qualified an impressive fifth on his return with Dale Coyne Racing. This matches Rossi’s best career start (Indianapolis 500) while Vautier has a career-best on ovals (was 10th in 2013) but not overall (third at Barber in 2013).

The top eight qualifying speeds all came from Honda powered cars. Will Power (ninth, for Verizon Team Penske) was the best of Chevrolet runners.

Of note: qualifying speeds were up significantly from 2016 on the newly repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway. Kimball’s pole speed of 222.556 mph came in at over five miles per hour faster than Carlos Munoz’s 2016 pole speed of 217.137 mph. In total, 18 cars turned an average speed that was faster than last year’s pole mark.

Times are below. Per NBCSN’s qualifying coverage, Carlos Munoz did not make a qualifying attempt after failing to make it through technical inspection in time. Final practice for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 will roll off tonight at 6:45 p.m. ET.

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Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.