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Dixon breaks pole speed record with fifth Indy top position

Dixon breaks pole speed record with fifth Indy top position

Scott Dixon confirmed his legend as one of the greatest INDYCAR SERIES drivers ever, earning his fifth Indianapolis 500 career presented by Gainbridge, pole Sunday with the fastest average speed over four laps for a pole sitter in the more than 100-year history of “The Greatest Spectacle in racing.”

As the final driver on the track in the Firestone Fast Six, six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Dixon delivered the drama with an average speed of 234.046 mph over four laps in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon, of Auckland, New Zealand, earned a $100,000 for the NTT P1 Award and is just a shy of four-time Indy winner Rick Mears for most poles in “500” history.

“That’s what this place is about; it’s so awesome,” Dixon said. “It’s crazy. This PNC Bank No. 9 crew and Honda brought them today. Just so happy for everyone.”

SEE: Starting position

Dixon’s run broke the all-time pole record speed of 233,718 set in 1996 by Scott Brayton. Arie Luyendyk set the average four-lap speed record of 236,986 in qualifying in 1996, but his run came on the second day of qualifying and did not qualify for pole.

Chip Ganassi Racing earned its first 1-2 start at Indianapolis since 2008 – when Dixon took his lone race win from pole and Dan Wheldon started second – when reigning series champion Alex Palou qualified second with 233,499 in the #10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon and Palou led four Ganassi drivers in the final qualifying session of Firestone Fast Six.

“To get five of our cars in the fast 12 and four in the (Firestone Fast) Six, I hope Chip has a smile on his face,” said Dixon. “That certainly deserves a smile.”

Rinus VeeKay took the last front row spot for the second year in a row and qualified third at 233,385 in the No. 21 Bitcoin Racing Team with BitNile Chevrolet from Ed Carpenter Racing.

This is the fastest front row in Indy 500 history, with an average speed of 233,643, breaking the 1996 record of 233,233.

ECR owner driver Ed Carpenter will start fourth in the No. 33 Alzamed Neuro Chevrolet after his run of 233,080.

Chip Ganassi Racing put four of its five drivers in the front two rows. Marcus Ericsson will start fifth after a run of 232,764 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan finishing sixth in qualifying with 232,372 in the No. 1 The American Legion Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

The third and fourth row were set up during the Top 12 qualifying, the first time trial session of the afternoon.

Row three will consist of Pato O’Ward (seventh) in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, Felix Rosenqvist (eighth) in the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and Romain Grosjean (ninth) in the No. 28 DHL Honda . Formula 1 veteran Grosjean will be the best starting and fastest “500” rookie in the field.

In the fourth row is two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (10th) in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda, 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power (11th) in the No. 51. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion and “500” rookie Jimmie Johnson (12th) in the No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Dixon opened the two qualifying rounds today by leading the Top 12 qualifying session, ahead of the 12 fastest drivers during Saturday’s qualifying, with a four-lap average speed of 233,510. VeeKay came in second with 233,429.

Johnson produced the biggest show for the fans—and elicited the most gasps from the pit lane—on lap 1 of his four-lap run. His car veered towards the SAFER Barrier at Turn 2 and he narrowly avoided contact with a large power slide at 230 mph, kept control of his machine and finished his run.

“I’m just trying to find the right balance in the race car,” Johnson said. “These guys are so good at what they do. In these more difficult conditions I just need more experience.”

This will be followed by a two-hour practice session for all 33 starters from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM (ET) Monday, with live coverage on Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network. After that, it’s final practice before the race, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, May 27 on Miller Lite Carb Day.

The 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 29, with live coverage starting at 11 a.m. on NBC, Telemundo Deportes on Universo and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

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