Scott Dixon used a breathtaking run of more than 234 mph to post the fastest Indianapolis 500 pole run in history. The New Zealander will lead the field to green in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for the fifth time in his career.
Considered the best driver of his generation, Dixon turned four laps on Sunday at an average of 234.046 mph around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His average broke Scott Brayton’s pole-winning record set in 1996 of 233.718 mph.
Arie Luyendyk holds the four-lap qualifying record of 236.986 mph, also done in 1996, but not in a run for the pole. That means Dixon’s qualifying run was the second fastest in 106 runs of the most prestigious race in the world.
Dixon’s first lap was an eye-popping 234.437 mph and drew a roar from the fans. His second lap was 234.162 and wife Emma bent over the pit wall in amazement, her hands covering her mouth. Dixon’s drop-off from there was miniscule: his fourth and final lap was 233.726 as his consistency gave Chip Ganassi Racing its seventh Indy 500 pole.
Dixon also started from the pole in 2008 when he scored his only Indy 500 win, as well as 2015, 2017 and last year.
“That’s what this place is about, the ups and downs that you have just in one day, it’s crazy,” said Dixon. His hands were shaking following his first run earlier Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson didn’t make it from round 12
Ganassi advanced all five of his drivers into the two-round qualifying shootout to determine the starting order for the first three rows for next week’s race. Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson needed a massive save in the first turn of his first lap and didn’t advance out of the round of 12.
But Dixon did, along with his other three Honda-powered teammates. That made it Dixon, reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou, Marcus Ericsson and Tony Kanaan in a head-to-head “Fast Six” shootout against Chevrolet-powered teammates Ed Carpenter and Rinus VeeKay.
“This is what real competitors want, true competitors want this,” Ganassi said before the session. “This is a moment made for champions.”
VeeKay on Saturday had posted the third-fastest qualifying run in track history but didn’t have enough for Dixon’s big, big laps. Palou, who averaged 233.499, qualified second alongside his teammate and VeeKay was third at 233.385.
Carpenter was fourth and followed by Ericsson and Kanaan, who at 232.372 was the slowest of the final six shootout. But even the slowest cars were flying around Indy, which hasn’t seen speeds like these since 1996.
Kanaan’s lap would have been the eighth-fastest qualifying run in the record books written before the drivers rewrote history this weekend.