The best was saved for last as six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon put together a memorable run to capture pole for the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
The 41-year-old New Zealander was the final driver to go out during the Fast Six, and navigated four crisp laps in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda for an average pace at 234.046 mph. It is the fastest four-lap average by a pole-sitter in Indy 500 history. It is the second-fastest qualifying run of all-time, though, behind Arie Luyendyk’s effort in 1996, which was not set on Pole Day and he ended up 21st.
“It’s what this place is about,” said an elated Dixon, winner of the 2008 Indy 500. “It’s so amazing. Like, the ups and downs that you have just in one day is crazy. Massive thank you to all the fans for coming out. It’s so good to see everybody here in the grandstands. Thank you so much to the team. PNC Bank No. 9 crew and Honda, they brought it today. Just so happy for everybody.
“You know, to get five of our (CGR) cars into the Fast 12 and then four into the (Fast) Six. I hope Chip’s got a smile on his face. I haven’t seen him yet, but that definitely deserves a smile.”
It marks the fifth pole – second consecutive – in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for Dixon, which moves him alone into second on the all-time list behind only Rick Mears (six).
Reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou ended up second with a four-lap average at 233.499 mph to give Chip Ganassi its first 1-2 start since 2008, when Dixon and the late Dan Wheldon accomplished the feat.
Despite pacing Day 1 of qualifications on Saturday, Rinus VeeKay was left looking up after putting an effort of 233.385 mph to place third in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet. He will start on the outside of the front row for next Sunday’s race.
Ed Carpenter ended up fourth, followed by Marcus Ericsson and Tony Kanaan.
The battle among the Fast 12 to advance into the Fast Six brought some drama, mostly courtesy of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.
Moments after taking the green flag to begin his four-lap run, Johnson had a bobble in Turn 1 that severely hurt the attempt. Although he was able to rebound back into the 232 mph range by his second lap, it was too much to overcome as he ended with the slowest average pace of the 12 drivers.
At the end of the Fast 12, Felix Rosenqvist was in the final transfer spot, but ultimately bumped out by Arrow McLaren SP teammate Pato O’Ward, who ended up in the unfavorable spot previously occupied by Rosenqvist. Then, VeeKay went out and posted the second-fastest time in the Fast 12, behind only Dixon, which was enough to knock O’Ward from battling for pole.
Scott Dixon set the tone for the session with a four-lap run during the Fast 12 round with an average speed of 233.510 mph.
There were no incidents throughout Sunday’s qualifying rounds.
Up Next: A two-hour open practice on Monday beginning at 12 p.m. ET, with live coverage on Peacock and the IndyCar Radio Network.