Scott Dixon has demonstrated that he knows his way around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He reminded everyone of that on Saturday and again on Sunday. After posting the fastest lap of the 35 qualifiers on Saturday, Dixon was the final driver to make his qualifying run in the Fast Nine Shootout on Sunday, creating incredible drama in front of a massive crowd at the Speedway. Dixon earned his fourth career Indy 500 pole with a four-lap average speed of 231.685 mph.
This was the first pole of the season for Dixon and his first since the 2017 Month of May. This is only his second pole since the 2016 race at Watkins Glen. It has been a while for The Iceman but he delivered when it counted the most. The entire Chip Ganassi Racing stable has been fast all week, so it was not a surprise to see Dixon claim the pole. His only Indy 500 win came from pole position in 2008. As far as his other two poles at Indy, he finished 4th in 2015 and 32nd in 2017 in that spectacular crash with Jay Howard.
Qualifying Results for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500
Dixon is now tied with AJ Foyt, Helio Castroneves, and Rex Mays for the second-most poles in Indianapolis 500 history. “Winning a pole at the Indianapolis 500 is one of the toughest things to do,” Dixon said. “From a team standpoint, just how much work and effort goes into building these cars specifically for that pole run, it’s a lot of money and a lot of effort that it takes.”
“We’ve been on the other side of it. We’ve had them before, but we’ve started well in the pack, too, where you can’t figure out why you’re in that position. Definitely feel good for the team. I know the team is going to be proud of what we achieved today. Again, it’s just the starting position. We have to work on the rest.”
Joining the 40-year old veteran on the front row next Sunday will be the two youngest drivers in the field. Colton Herta continued his brilliant week with another solid run, only to see it beaten on the final attempt by Dixon. After crashing here during a test last month, Rinus VeeKay has had quite the turnaround at IMS. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver won the GMR Grand Prix on the road course, and today became the youngest front-row qualifier in Indianapolis 500 history.
Three different teams and both manufacturers are represented on the front row this year.
VeeKay’s boss, Ed Carpenter, will start on the inside of Row 2 next Sunday. Former Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan and his Ganassi teammate Alex Palou join Carpenter in the second row. Row 3 consists of Indy 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Ryan Hunter-Reay, with Marcus Ericsson starting on the outside.
The Fast Nine Shootout followed what was an emotional qualifying session to determine who would get into the race, and who would be going home. Five drivers were competing for the final three spots, with some high-profile names involved. Team Penske had two drivers vying to get into the show, including 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power. He was able to get in, and so was his Penske-affiliated teammate Simona de Silvestro, who is returning for the first time since 2015.
Sage Karam was the fastest of the bunch and will start 31st for the fourth time in his career. It is the third consecutive year that he will start 31st and joins George Snider, Tom Bigelow, and Buddy Lazier as four-time starters of Row 11. The first time he started there, which was his Rookie year, he finished a career-best 9th place.
The two drivers that came up just short of making the field on Sunday were Charlie Kimball of AJ Foyt Racing and RC Enerson of Top Gun Racing. While many considered Enerson to be a long shot of making the race, the Top Gun Racing team did a phenomenal job of getting up to speed so quickly. They received car parts in April and were on the cusp of qualifying for the race today.
This also ends a streak of ten consecutive starts for Kimball, dating back to his maiden voyage in that unforgettable 2011 race. Charlie has four top-ten finishes in this race, including a 5th place finish in 2016 and a career-best 3rd place in 2015. Kimball has always shown himself to be a class act and a wonderful human being. He summed up his day quite eloquently.
The field average this year is 230.294 mph, which is the fastest in Indy 500 history. The previous mark of 229.382 was set in 2014.
There was a two-hour practice session that followed qualifying at 5 PM and it was extremely busy. The 33 drivers combined to turn more than 2,000 laps as they tried to dial in their race setups. Simon Pagenaud lost an engine during the session, but believes his car is capable of running up front next Sunday. Palou was the fastest in the session, with all four Ganassi cars once again finishing inside the top five.
The next on-track session is another two-hour practice at 11 AM on Friday, better known as Carb Day. This will be the last chance for teams and drivers to tune their machines before race day. NBC’s coverage for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins at 11 AM on Sunday.