Scott Dixon claims pole for Indy 500


Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the pole for the 2017 Indianapolis 500. (WTTV May 21, 2017)

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SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Scott Dixon claimed his third Indianapolis 500 pole with speeds fans hadn’t seen at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in decades.

The Chip Ganassi driver recorded the fastest lap and four-lap qualifying average in 21 years.  His first lap of 232.595 miles per hour and 232.164 mph qualifying average were the fastest since Arie Luyendyk in 1996.

“The last time it didn’t work out so well,” said Dixon, referring to winning the pole in 2015.  “In 2008, we won from the pole, so we’re trying to replicate that one.  It’s a great starting position.  We’re at the front for the start.  Now we just have to do the hard part and hold on to it.”

Joining Dixon in the front row will be Ed Carpenter and defending Indy 500 champion, Alexander Rossi.  Carpenter put together a four-lap average of 231.644 after having the top speed in day one of qualifications, while Rossi pulled an average of 231.487.

“Proud of having the top two qualified Chevrolets,” said Carpenter, who also owns JR Hildebrand’s car that qualified 6th.  “I’m excited to get back to work and make our car better, so we can figure out what it’s going to take to win the 500 mile race.”

“I won’t be happy unless I’m first,” said Rossi.  “There’s things we left on the table and we’re missing a mile an hour in top speed.  We’ll have to work on that and see why that is, but we’ll go from there for the race.”

Two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso qualified in the middle of row two.  The No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti driver dealt with some added drama as his team had to change his engine between practice and the Fast Nine Shootout.

“Qualifying is always a little bit of stress,” Alonso said.  “I did enjoy it, but at one point in the morning we didn’t even know if we were going to be able to go out, because we had to change the engine.  Unfortunately on lap two, we had an overboost problem out of turn four, so it was like hitting the brakes.  I lost one mile per hour, so I think we could have easily been fighting for pole without that problem.”

Team Penske was primed for a run at the pole heading into the weekend, but suffered some uncharacteristic struggles.

Will Power is the top qualifier for Penske in 9th.  Juan Pablo Montoya will start 18th, Helio Castroneves 19th, Josef Newgarden 22nd and Simon Pagenaud 23rd.  It’s the worst starting position for three-time champion Castroneves in 17 career starts.

“It is frustrating,”  said Castroneves.  “I’m not going to deny it.  At least I did something different or historic.  It’s my worst start of the Indy 500, so maybe we can win from there and make even more history.”

“You don’t come to Indianapolis in a Team Penske car to not be fighting for pole,” Pagenaud said.  “We’re doing our best.  We’re trying to understand where the speed goes when the sun comes out.  It seems like there’s a bit of a trend here, but I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t know.”

The green flag flies on the 101st Indianapolis 500 next Sunday at 11 a.m.

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