Changes made in Indy qualifying after car flips for third time this week

SHARE Changes made in Indy qualifying after car flips for third time this week

INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Dixon had a four-lap average of 226.760 mph in qualifying Sunday to claim his second Indianapolis 500 pole.

Dixon, of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, ended Team Penske’s streak of eight straight pole wins.

The New Zealander took the lead in the first 25 minutes of action on the 2.5-mile oval. He waited for 29 other drivers to take their shot. None were faster.

Defending series champion, Will Power, will start second in the May 24 race after going 226.350. Simon Pagenaud will start on the outside of Row 1 after going 226.145. Both drive for Penske.

It was a strange day at Indy.

After Ed Carpenter’s car went airborne in practice, series officials took away the extra power boost and instructed drivers to run in race trim.

The decision dropped qualifying speeds significantly. Most expected it to take an average between 233 and 234 to win the pole. Instead, the pole was down more than 4 mph from Carpenter’s top seed in 2014.

Carpenter’s crash, the third this week in which a car flipped, also delayed the start of qualifying by more than five hours as series officials, team owners and the two engine manufacturers debated how to make qualifying safer. All three of the cars involved in the crashes Chevrolets, which like Honda, is running new aero kits on the first oval race of the season.

While the delay gave CFH Racing enough time to get Carpenter back on the track in time for the start of qualifying, the rule changes and revised schedule prevented Carpenter and three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves from getting any real shots at historic milestones.

Race organizers gave all 34 cars one shot at the pole. Buddy Lazier, the 1996 race winner, missed his chance because he was not in the qualifying line on time.

Carpenter, the third driver on the track, briefly held the top spot as he attempted to become the first driver in 500 history to win three consecutive poles.

But Dixon knocked Carpenter off the pole on the next qualifying run, and with no second attempt, Carpenter’s quest was over. He will start 12th, the outside of Row 4, after going 224.883.

Castroneves, the Brazilian who has given Roger Penske four of his record 17 pole wins, was trying to break a three-way with A.J. Foyt and Rex Mays for second in race history. That didn’t happen either. He will start fifth, the middle of Row 2, after being clocked at 225.502.

But despite the on-track problems this week, Chevrolet continued to dominate the top of the starting grid — something Graham Rahal predicted before qualifying began.

Chevy drivers took eight of the first 10 spots on the three-car, 11-row grid.

England’s Justin Wilson was the fastest Honda driver. He will start on the outside of Row 2 after going 225.279.

Marco Andretti was the top American qualifier and will start in the middle of Row 3 with an average speed of 225.189.

The only other time Dixon started on the pole at Indy, in 2008, he won the race.

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