The man of the hour has not been Will Power. Once again, the Penske just plain missed the mark and Will starts 9th. If he wasn’t locked into the top 9, he would have actually started in 15th, just behind Graham Rahal. It is a rare year that Team Penske performs this poorly at Indy. Roger and his crew will have something up their sleeve come race day.
With the sun setting, Scott Dixon rolled his Chip Ganassi Honda out of pitlane and started his run. Lap 1 was the first lap over 232 MPH. His second lap was also. By the time he had completed Lap 4, his qualifying average had settled as a 232.164: the fastest qualifying speeds seen since 1996! The time was so quick, Dixon thought his dashboard had broken! But Takuma Sato and Ed Carpenter were still left to go. Could they dethrone Dixon?
Sato tried and failed: his 231.365 was only good enough for 4th. Carpenter rolled off the line…he would get close, but would be half a mile per hour too slow. Dixon was on the pole!
This is Scott’s 3rd Indy pole. In 2008 he won both the pole and the 500. In 2015, he won the pole again and was in contention for the win until he overheated his engine on the final stint. Dixie has had a good year, and he was clearly feeling strong with his dominant pole position.
His crew was so excited, they were quite literally jumping for joy.
Dixon was flanked by his daughters, Poppy and Tilly, while being interviewed by the press. He was quite pleased with the pole, especially considering Ganassi’s off-season switch from Chevrolet to Honda. When asked about how the switch affected the team, Dixon said, “Everybody on the engineering staff, all the girls and boys at Chip Ganassi Racing at the shop, and the people that are on the road have just done a tremendous job this year to really get the most out of what we have – it's been a two-year sort of catch-up that we've had to do.” Despite his joy, Dixon was also very introspective. Had it not been for his vicious crash a day before, Dixon claimed the pole would have belonged to Bourdais. With the top times on both Friday and Saturday (before the crash), Bourdais was definitely the man to beat.
With the cars packed away in their garages, we end up with the familiar 11 rows of 3. Below is the grid for this year's Indy 500:
|1||Scott Dixon (W)||Ed Carpenter||Alexander Rossi (W)|
|2||Takuma Sato||Fernando Alonso (R)||JR Hildebrand|
|3||Tony Kanaan (W)||Marco Andretti||Will Power|
|4||Ryan Hunter-Reay (W)||Ed Jones (R)||Oriol Servia|
|5||Mikhail Aleshin||Graham Rahal||Max Chilton|
|6||Charlie Kimball||James Hinchcliffe||Juan Pablo Montoya (W)|
|7||Helio Castroneves (W)||Jay Howard||Sage Karam|
|8||Josef Newgarden||Simon Pagenaud||Carlos Munoz|
|9||Gabby Chaves||Conor Daly||Jack Harvey (R)|
|10||Pippa Mann||Spencer Pigot||Buddy Lazier (W)|
|11||Sebastian Saavedra||Zach Veach (R)||James Davison|
(W) = Winner (R) = Rookie
The field is set and everyone has their eye on the Borg Warner trophy: a simple silver cup that is the trophy of the Indianapolis 500. The winner’s name and likeness will be engraved on the side and another race will go down in the history books. Will Alexander Rossi be able to defend his title? Can Scott win a second 500 to go with his four IndyCar titles? Can Fernando Alonso shock the world with an upset win? Or, will Helio Castroneves worm his way through the field to take his 4th 500? Don’t rule out dark horses like JR Hildebrand or Ed Jones. Indy is always ripe with possibility and we’ll find out on Sunday May 28. Coverage starts at noon on ABC. Tune in to watch the 101st edition of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing!