Story Credit: INDYCAR PR
Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo
INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 23, 2021) – Scott Dixon won the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole for the fourth time in his career, taking the NTT P1 Award in the fastest field in “500” history with a four-lap average speed of 231.685 mph.
Six-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Dixon was fastest during the first day of Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying on Saturday, and he also stood tall during the Firestone Fast Nine Shootout on Sunday in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda. 2008 Indy 500 winner Dixon also won “500” poles in 2008, 2015 and 2017, and he ties Rex Mays, A.J. Foyt and Helio Castroneves for the second-most poles in Indy 500 history.
“Winning a pole at the Indianapolis 500 is one of the toughest things to do,” Dixon said. “From a team standpoint, just how much work and effort goes into building these cars specifically for that pole run, it’s a lot of money and a lot of effort that it takes.
“We’ve been on the other side of it. We’ve had them before, but we’ve started well in the pack, too, where you can’t figure out why you’re in that position. Definitely feel good for the team. I know the team is going to be proud of what we achieved today. Again, it’s just the starting position. We have to work on the rest.”
Dixon, 40, will be joined by the two youngest drivers in the field in the front row on 105th Indianapolis 500 Race Day, Sunday, May 30.
Colton Herta, 21, will start second in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, falling just short of Dixon with a four-lap average of 231.655. Rinus VeeKay, 20, qualified third at 231.511 in the No. 21 Bitcoin Chevrolet and is the youngest front-row starter in the century-plus history of the race.
Herta was the eighth of nine drivers to make a single attempt during the Shootout, and his big run was good enough for provisional pole. But Dixon, the last driver on track due to being fastest Saturday, delivered with the sixth Indy 500 pole for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“It was pretty hairy,” Dixon said. “Glad it’s over. It was definitely pretty tense. I was able to watch Colton’s four laps, too. Wish I hadn’t before I went out. I knew his consistency was probably going to be a tick better than the other two, and it sure was.
“Yeah, at Turn 1 for the first lap was very loose, and I was already maxed out on all the controls. I knew it was just going to be holding on for lap three and four. Lap four was definitely pretty rough, especially through Turn 3.”
Said Herta: “Yeah, if I was a fan, I’d be really excited with that Fast Nine qualifying. Really, guys that just kept going faster every single run. It was actually really close for everyone.
“To beat Dixon, I think we really had to have that first lap and second lap just a tiny bit faster. We were so close.”
The second row will be comprised of Ed Carpenter, fourth at 231.504 in the No. 20 SONAX Chevrolet; 2013 “500” winner Tony Kanaan, fifth at 231.032 in the No. 48 The American Legion Honda; and Alex Palou, sixth at 230.616 in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Palou produced a strong rebound from Saturday, when he crashed heavily during qualifying.
Two Indianapolis 500 winners are in the third row. 2014 Indy winner Ryan Hunter-Reay will start seventh at 230.499 in the No. 28 DHL Honda, three-time winner Helio Castroneves is eighth at 230.355 in the No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda, and Marcus Ericsson is ninth at 230.318 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Three teams dominated the first three rows. Chip Ganassi Racing put Dixon, Kanaan, Palou and Ericsson in the first three rows, Andretti Autosport is represented by Herta and Hunter-Reay, and Ed Carpenter Racing boasts VeeKay and team owner Carpenter.
The afternoon on the 2.5-mile oval started with plenty of drama during Last Chance Qualifying. Sage Karam, 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power and Simona De Silvestro earned the final three spots in the field.
Karam will start 31st in the No. 24 DRR-AES INDIANA Chevrolet after his run of 229.156. 2014 series champion Power will start 32nd in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet at 228.876 despite brushing the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 during his one qualifying run. De Silvestro rounds out the field in 33rd after her run of 228.353 in the No. 16 Rocket Pro TPO/Paretta Autosport entry.
2014 series champion Power brushed the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 on his single run during Last Chance Qualifying but held on to make the show in what he called the most nerve-racking day of his illustrious career.
Failing to qualify were Charlie Kimball in the No. 11 Tresiba/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet and rookie RC Enerson in the No. 75 Top Gun Racing Chevrolet.
The next on-track session is a two-hour practice from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Friday, May 28. The Miller Lite Carb Day practice is the last chance for drivers and teams to hone their Race Day setups.