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Surprisingly, the Canadian had never raced at Sonoma in a decade of IndyCar and CART, his only experience on the demanding course a 10-lap, grind-the-tires-down stint in a rental car earlier in the week.

Tagliani liked the way the rental handled the hills and corners and was even more impressed with the fast IndyCar his team put together, using it to qualify fourth. He’ll start on the second row next to Franchitti, hoping to build on the fourth he had at Mid-Ohio that felt like a mini breakthrough in a mostly stagnant first season with the FAZZT Race Team.

“When you have a good car, it’s a fun track,” Tagliani said. “I would hate to drive this track with a bad car.”