Dixon Wins Pole For 99th Indy 500

Scott Dixon and his daughters put the P1 sticker on his car after he won the pole position for the 2015 Indianapolis 500. [Chris Jones Photo]

Scott Dixon and his daughters put the P1 sticker on his car after he won the pole position for the 2015 Indianapolis 500.  [Chris Jones Photo]


After waiting for what seemed like an eternity (actually two-hours and twenty-minutes), Target Chip Ganassi driver Scott Dixon captured his second Indianapolis 500 pole, edging out Penske Racing’s Will Power and Simon Pagenaud as Chevrolet-powered cars took the first five spots for the May 24th race.
“I wasn’t sure about it because we went so early (4th),” noted the New Zealand native who will be after his second 500 win. “It was daunting to watch for that long.”
Power, the 2014 IndyCar champion, was the fastest in practice with speeds over 227 mph prior to qualifying, but his qualifying run of 226.350 mph was just short of Dixon’s 226.760 mph.
“It comes down to little things. It was really as good as we could do,” explained the Aussie who also started second for Penske here in 2010. “I’ve been getting myself ready (for this) for the past months. Practice next week will help.”
And teams will need those extra practice miles next week due to IndyCar mandating that all cars had to qualify today with the aero package that will be used on race day and not the low downforce set-ups that they had been practicing with all week.
After three cars crashed and were lifted into the air, landing upside down during practice runs, teams and officials met earlier today and it was decided to qualify with a safer aero setup. ”The decision is based on our commitment to safety,” announced Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles. “We’re committed to protecting the safety as best we can of the competitors, drivers and our fans, and perhaps we’re being cautious, but we think that that’s the responsible thing to do.”
So, due to practice starting late, combined with Saturday’s first round of trials being postponed due to rain, teams were given just one try to make the field, putting pressure on drivers to complete their runs without problems, but also to do it as fast as possible; a balance that some found difficult to master in changing conditions.
“The car was easy to drive but any wind in the wrong spot cost you speed,” said Penske’s Simon Pagenaud who will start in the front row next to Power. The Frenchman went out later than Dixon and found conditions to be not as calm.
James Hinchcliffe also found the wind to be the enemy as he struggled to match his practice speeds. “Pretty frustrating, because we ran 225s in practice. The wind picked up and caught us off-guard a little bit. We had them in the morning (practice), and it just didn’t happen this afternoon,” said the Schmidt Peterson Honda pilot who dropped from 12th in practice to 24th after qualifying. “It’s kind of Russian Roulette a little bit.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay had a different kind of problem since having to change his Andretti Autosport Honda’s aero package made for a different car than he was used to. ”It’s unfortunate that Honda had to change our cars. But our job at that point when they redid the configuration and the rule, it was just to get to the job at hand and do the best you can in the short amount of time given,” explained the 2014 500 winner. “It was shocking just the difference in the car. But when you’re handed temporary rules, as a team we just need to get on with the job.”
And so on Monday and Friday teams will be getting on with the job, trying to find the speed that was lost today and still build 500 miles worth of reliability into their entries.
And Dixon? He’s starting up front and hopes to stay there. “We still have the race to go. Starting there is better than any other place. I’m going to sleep well tonight. There’s nothing like winning the Indianapolis 500. When you get a taste of it you just want that much more. We need to seal the deal next week.”, and thirty-two other teams will work hard this week to stop him.

Sunday Notes:
• With a third Chevrolet-powered entry, Ed Carpenter, having lifted into the air and turned over after striking the wall this morning, serious closed-door meetings took place between representatives of IndyCar, IMS, Honda, Chevrolet and the teams. The goal was to employ a temporary fix to the problem of lift when cars equipped with Chevy’s Aero Kit turn 180-degrees after striking a wall. The following agreement was announced after the meeting: “This morning we saw a third car get into the wall, turn backward and lift into the air. We’ve said all along we want to go faster, but we want to do so safely. As a precautionary measure, IndyCar will require that the cars (both Chevy and Honda) qualify today in the same aero setup that they will run in the Indianapolis 500 next weekend. Also, for today, boost levels will return to race conditions. Given these changes, this morning we have elected to not award points for today’s qualifications. Safety for drivers and fans is the top priority for IndyCar and we will continue to be proactive in our research and development to improve all safety aspects of our sport.” Mark Miles, CEO-Hulman & Company
All cars will make just one run and there will be no Fast Nine Shootout. Positions 31-33 and unqualified cars will participate in a separate session to determine which car won’t make the race.

• After destroying his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka primary car this morning, Carpenter was ready to go in the 1:30p.m. practice-session after his team worked for several hours to prepare its backup machine.

Saturday Notes:
• At 2:06 p.m., Race Control cancelled activities for the day due to continuing rain and wet track conditions. Times posted today by Carlos Huertas and Ryan Hunter-Reay are deleted.

• Will Power: “It’s raining, and I think IndyCar has got a pretty good plan to run tomorrow and get everyone through the line and have a Fast Nine. If anything, it’ll be even more exciting, having it all really compressed (into one day).

• Helio Castroneves led Saturday morning practice with a fast lap of 233.474 mph, the fastest single lap since 1996. Castroneves seeks to join AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as four-time Indy 500 winners.

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