Scott Dixon used a breathtaking run of over 234 mph to post the fastest Indianapolis 500 pole run in history. The New Zealander will lead the field in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for the fifth time in his career.
Considered the best driver of his generation, Dixon made four rounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday at an average of 234.046 mph. His average broke Scott Breton’s pole-winning record of 233.718 mph in 1996.
Ari Luendik holds a four-lap qualifying record of 236.986 mph, which was also done in 1996, but not in a run for pole. This means that Dixon’s qualifying run was the second-fastest of the world’s most prestigious races of 106 runs.
Dixon’s first lap was going to be 234.437 mph and fans roared. His second lap was 234.162 and wife Emma leaned against the pit wall in amazement, her hands covering her mouth. From there Dixon’s drop-off was minimal: his fourth and final lap was 233.726 as his consistency gave Chip Ganassi Racing his seventh Indy 500 pole.
Dixon also debuted from pole in 2008 when he scored his only Indy 500 win, as well as 2015, 2017 and last year.
“That’s what it’s about, the ups and downs you have in just one day, it’s crazy,” Dixon said. His hands were trembling after his first run early Sunday.
Ganassi advanced all five of his drivers into a two-round qualifying shootout to determine the starting order of the first three lines 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 progress past round 12.
But Dixon did, as did his other three Honda-powered peers. This saw Dixon, reigning IndyCar champions Alex Palu, Marcus Ericsson and Tony Kanan, in a “fast six” shootout against Chevrolet-powered teammate Ed Carpenter and Rinus VK.
“This is what real contestants want, that’s what real contestants want,” Ganassi said before the session. “It’s a made moment for the champions.”
VK posted the third-fastest qualifying run in track history on Saturday, but that wasn’t enough for Dixon’s big, big gap. Palu, who averaged 233.499, qualified second with his teammate and VK finished third with 233.385.
Carpenter was in fourth place and was followed by Ericsson and Kanan, who were the slowest in the last six shootouts at 232.372. But even the slowest cars were flying around Indy, which hasn’t seen speeds like this since 1996.
Kanan’s lap would have been the eighth-fastest qualifying run in the record books written before the drivers rewrote history this weekend.