Scott Dixon grabs Indy 500 pole position + final 33-car grid
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Reigning IndyCar series champion Scott Dixon grabbed pole position for the 105th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, holding off a pair of young pretenders for his fourth career pole in the fabled race.
The New Zealand veteran, gunning for a record seventh IndyCar series title this season, posted a four-lap average speed of 231.685 mph (372.86km/h) on his qualifying run on the 2.5-mile (4km) oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He was the final driver to make a run in Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout, in which the top nine drivers from Saturday’s qualifying session vied for pole position and the remaining spaces on the front three rows of the grid.
“That was sketchy,” admitted Dixon of a gutsy run in which he felt his Honda-powered Chip Ganassi team car get “pretty loose the last lap.”
“I was hoping I was going to make it through turn three,” he said.
“I kind of turned in too early – I was holding on.”
Dixon, who won the Indianapolis 500 from pole in 2008, was under pressure from rising stars Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay.
Dutch driver VeeKay – coming off his first IndyCar series win on the road course at Indianapolis last week – had put himself atop the times with a scintillating run at an average speed of 231.511 mph only for Herta to shoulder him aside with an attempt a 231.655 mph.
VeeKay pushed his Ed Carpenter Racing car to its limit, continuing to press through a shaky moment in turn one of his fourth lap.
“I felt the car was, like, edgy,” VeeKay said.
“But I’m, like, I’m not going to change the bar. I want to be as much on the limit as possible. I kept the power in and it was wiggling, wiggling, wiggling.
“I got a quite decent snap, but I just kept the power in,” he said.
Team boss Ed Carpenter qualified fourth fastest to head the second row ahead of Brazilian Tony Kanaan and Spain’s Alex Palou.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Brazilian Helio Castroneves and Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson filled the third row.
Also at stake on Sunday were three spots on the final row, with five cars vying for the spots in Last Chance Qualifying.
American Sage Karam went out first and with a four-lap average of 229.156 mph was never in danger of being bumped.
Australian Will Power – relegated to the Last Chance bracket after a disastrous day on Saturday, brushed the wall in turn two of his final lap but claimed a berth with a run at 228.876 mph.
Switzerland’s Simona de Silvestro nabbed the 33rd and final spot at 228.353 mph with both RC Enerson and Charlie Kimball unable to bump her.
The starting grid for the 105th Indianapolis 500 on May 30 after Sunday’s Fast Nine pole position qualifying on the 2.5 mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
1. Scott Dixon (NZL/Honda) 2:35.3837min (231.685 mph 4-lap avg speed)
2. Colton Herta (USA/Honda) 2:35.4034 (231.655)
3. Rinus VeeKay (NED/Chevrolet) 2:35.5000 (231.511)
4. Ed Carpenter (USA/Chevrolet) 2;35.5047 (231.504)
5. Tony Kanaan (BRA/Honda) 2:35.8229 (231.032)
6. Alex Palou (ESP/Honda) 2:36.1039 (230.616)
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay (USA/Honda) 2:36.1827 (230.499)
8. Helio Castroneves (BRA/Honda) 2:36.2804 (230.335)
9. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Honda) 2:36.3054 (230.318)
10. Alexander Rossi (USA/Honda), 2:35.8132 (231.046)
11. Ed Jones (GBR/Honda), 2:35.8148 (231.044)
12. Pato O’Ward (MEX/Chevrolet), 2:35.9360 (230.864)
13. Pietro Fittipaldi (BRA/Honda), 2:35.9481 (230.846)
14. Felix Rosenqvist (SWE/Chevrolet), 2:36.0168 (230.744)
15. Takuma Sato (JPN/Honda), 2:36.0417 (230.708)
16. James Hinchcliffe (CAN/Honda), 2:36.1395 (230.563)
17. Scott McLaughlin (NZL/Chevrolet), 2:36.1435 (230.557)
18. Graham Rahal (USA/Honda), 2:36.1680 (230.521)
19. Conor Daly (USA/Chevrolet), 2:36.2314 (230.427)
20. Jack Harvey (GBR/Honda), 2:36.3922 (230.191)
21. Josef Newgarden (USA/Chevrolet), 2:36.4735 (230.071)
22. JR Hildebrand (USA/Chevrolet), 2:36.5354 (229.980)
23. Santino Ferrucci (USA/Honda), 2:36.5563 (229.949)
24. Juan Pablo Montoya (COL/Chevrolet), 2:36.5961 (229.891)
25. Marco Andretti (USA/Honda), 2:36.6089 (229.872)
26. Simon Pagenaud (FRA/Chevrolet), 2:36.6732 (229.778)
27. Sebastien Bourdais (FRA/Chevrolet), 2:36.6964 (229.744)
28. Stefan Wilson (GBR/Honda) 2:36.7166 (229.714)
29. Max Chilton (GBR/Chevrolet) 2:36.9195 (229.417)
30. Dalton Kellett (CAN/Chevrolet) 2:37.6717 (228.323)
31. Sage Karam (USA/Chevrolet) 2:37.0982 (229.156)
32. Will Power (AUS/Chevrolet) 2:37.2905 (228.876)
33. Simona de Silvestro (SUI/Chevrolet) 2:37.6504 (228.353)