Dixon wins pole for Toronto Indy

Scott Dixon storms to pole
Scott Dixon storms to pole
Chevy Butt Bumpers are wide open and air flows right through
Honda Butt Bumpers are closed off and air flowing around the tires hits them and the Butt Bumpers act as a parachute

Ganassi driver Scott Dixon turned the fastest lap in the final seconds of Fast Six shootout qualifying to lead a 1-2-3-4-5 Chevy sweep in qualifying for the Toronto Grand Prix IndyCar race.

Dixon's time of 59.907s was just enough to nip Helio Castroneves who was on pole up until then at 59.943s.

Points leader Simon Pagenaud will roll off third ahead of Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais.

For Dixon it was his first pole of 2016 and 24th of his career, snapping a tie for 12th place on the all-time Indy car list with Johnny Rutherford. The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion will lead the field to the green flag in Sunday's 85-lap event, the 32nd Indy car race on the storied 1.786-mile temporary street course.

Dixon, who won both ends of the 2013 Toronto doubleheader to launch a push to the third of his four Verizon IndyCar Series titles, planned to run two laps at speed in today's Firestone Fast Six, the last of three rounds of knockout qualifying. But he was able to cross the timing line a precious few seconds ahead of the checkered flag to earn another lap. With clear track ahead, the 35-year-old New Zealander sped to the top of the chart.

"Each lap kept getting better," Dixon said. "We made the timeline by a second to get the extra lap. Just kept getting negatives on the splits (showing he was on pole pace). Gave up a little bit in Turn 8; obviously just enough to bump pole.

"We caught the timeline at the right point, that's it. Worked out nicely for a change."

Dixon's effort prevented Helio Castroneves from winning a second Toronto pole. Castroneves' best lap of 59.9425 seconds (107.263 mph) places him on the outside of Row 1 in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet.

"What am I going to say? I can't believe it," Castroneves said. "What is it, (four) hundredths of a second? Congrats to them but the Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet car is really fast.

"Gosh! Come on, Dixon! Really? Really?!"

The Andretti Autosport team continues to be out to lunch with all four drivers beaten by the Dale Coyne team, which runs on a shoestring budget. Obviously the Honda teams cannot compete with the Chevy teams because the Hondas are towing a parachute around all the tracks except Indy, Pocono and Texas where rules mandate that the Chevys also close off their butt bumpers on the superspeedways.

If the Hondas were not towing a parachute around the track they could run more downforce and have similar grip to the Chevys. That still doesn't explain why the Andretti team is the slowest of the Hondas.

Quotes

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet): "I thought the DeVilbiss Chevy recovered well. It was tough in qualifying with the used tires, but I am happy with how we recovered from the weekend. We have a great race car and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3. Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet): "What am I going to say? What am I going to say? I can't believe it. What is it, two hundredths of a second? Congrats to them but the Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet car is really fast. We made a lot of change, I'm talking about a lot of change. All the changes we made seem to be working. Gosh! Come on, (Scott) Dixon! Really? Really? The first session was not good. All credit to (engineer) Jonathan (Diuguid). He hit the right spot on the car on the setup. The second I put the reds (alternate tires) on the second session, my car was like 'Whoa. Back in the game here.' When we went out again on the third one, about to repeat the same lap time we did on the first run. But again, we did not want to wait until the end, since the track always got a little bit better, we did not want to wait till the end because of a yellow or red flag coming out and then would have screwed up with our laps because we knew we were only dealing with two laps. Ganassi is not a rookie team. They're champions. They know what they're doing. Good job by Scott."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "I'm really pleased with the result today. We got back into the Fast Six after two weeks of shot-gunning the field. It's kind of nice to be back at the sharp end of the grid. The Arrow Electronics guys did a great job. It's such a tough track out here with the conditions, the surface changes, the bumps obviously, but they did what they had to do and gave me a car that could get up there. I'm proud of all of them and hopefully the best starting spot I've ever had here turns into the best finish I've ever had here."

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda): "I think the SMP Racing crew did a good job with this session. Tenth place in qualifying isn't the best position but it's not the worst either. We know what we need to work on for tomorrow's race, and the race is what really matters. We have 85 laps to move forward and that's a long way, so we're fine."

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "I'm happy with the job I did and the rest of the team did, because I think I was the only rookie that hadn't been on this track. To me this is the hardest race track I've ever driven to learn. There's just zero grip on that concrete and it's pretty tight and unforgiving. I think that was a decent job. We missed out on advancing by a tenth, but we've made huge progress throughout the weekend and I'm pretty happy with that."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet: "Well, I think it started with the first few laps. I was all down and out. I'm like, 'Oh that doesn't look so good.' I couldn't get my splits to go negative and the last lap and then we just crossed the line to get another lap. They are like, 'Keep going, keep going'. Just gave it our all and the car just kept actually getting quicker. I think the Firestone tires finally came in. I was probably not as hard on them as I needed to be right out of the gate. So stoked for Team Target. It's great to be back on the pole. We haven't had a pole this year, but huge credit to the team they did a hell of a job this weekend. We struggled a little bit with speed. You've got to leave it to qualifying, that's when it makes the most. But tomorrow is race day and hopefully we will put on a great show for all the fans here."

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet): "That isn't where we wanted to end up today in qualifying. We had a much better car in the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet, but we were just struggling with understeer for most of that second round. The guys are going to change the engine tonight and get it ready to go for tomorrow's warm-up. I think the race tomorrow is going to be an interesting one for sure, but we'll get it right and hopefully make our move up to the front quickly."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "The Hydroxycut machine has been fast all weekend. We just didn't get it done in qualifying. It is what it is. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the Firestone Fast Six. We only got one lap on our last run and we should have gotten two. I don't think we could have taken the pole, but maybe the second row. Overall, I am happy to have made it to the Firestone Fast Six. We will see what we can do tomorrow."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "Well actually the last run there I let Helio (Castroneves) go and I went out in the marbles. Spent a lap and a half getting marbles off my tires, but still a good result, starting P4 for the Verizon Chevrolet. It is tough out there, easy to make mistakes, very slippery surfaces. Unless you get everything right you don't get the lap time. (On track changes) I think it will be harder to actually follow in (Turn) 11 just because of how accurate you have to be not to hit the apex wall. The wall juts out a little bit. It's going to be tough to get a run on someone there into (Turn) 1. You still got good passing zones in (Turn) 3. It makes it a more challenging track, honestly, the way it is right now."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "It was a disappointing result having had a strong practice session in the ABC Supply Honda yesterday. We seemed to struggle in practice this morning and now in qualifying. I don't know why, we just couldn't seem to get a good grip and good balance. We're looking into the data now."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rousseau Metal Honda): "I went for it on the last lap and I hit the fence. The car has been ill-handling. We've been in the top eight so I think it's given us a false sense of security. I told the guys before the session that it was going to take a magic lap to advance and I knew it because our basic balance all weekend has been killing the rear tires. We can't put power down at all. We lose 2.5 tenths (of a second) just in the hairpin because we can't put power down and in Turn 6 we have a ton of under steer and, on the last lap in qualifying, I went for it, the car went straight and just tagged the wall. That lap wasn't going to be better no matter what which is frustrating because these guys deserve better. We are struggling to make improvements this weekend so far. We're going to throw the kitchen sink at it to hopefully improve for the race and get the Rousseau Metal Honda to the front."

CONOR DALY (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd's Hospitality Honda): "It's great to start seventh tomorrow! It's our best starting position of the year. It feels great to be fighting for that top six and fighting right at the front of the Honda pack. It's a little painful, and it a bit of shame, to be knocked out of the Firestone Fast Six by Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) but because it's him it's fine, he's the hometown hero. I'm just happy with the progress that we've made. We keep improving from race to race and that's what we have to keep doing. I can't wait for tomorrow."

LUCA FILIPPI (No. 19 IMPCO ComfortPro Honda): "It's a good team result but I'm not happy for myself because I could have done much better and possibly been more or less where Conor (Daly) is. But we caught a train of traffic that came out in front of me, and with these tires, you can't afford too many laps on those. That said, the potential is good so we can do well and better in the race. We just have to watch out for the start tomorrow and from there we can work our way up and have a strong race."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "I'm disappointed to qualify where we did, we were obviously hoping to be a little bit higher up the grid but it didn't happen that way. We'll try and make the best of it tomorrow and see what we can do differently. It's a long race and it's usually pretty crazy with some big passing zones, so hopefully we can make up a few spots and have a clean race. Big thanks to all the guys at Ed Carpenter Racing, Fuzzy's Vodka and Rising Star Racing for all their hard work."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services/ECR Chevrolet): "It's always great being here, so many fans come out and see us. Thanks everyone in Toronto for supporting the Verizon IndyCar Series I love running here. We're battling the speed aspect of it. I think we have a great car. We were just missing some grip there with that last set of tires. We were a bit stronger on our first qualifying run. I'm not sure quite what we need at the moment, we're good in some sections but weak in others. We need to try and solve that problem. I have a lot of faith with ECR and the Preferred Freezer crew, we should be able to get on it tomorrow."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): "The PPG car was tremendous all weekend. Kind of missed the balance a little bit. Q1 was fantastic. We started picking up quite a bit of understeer. We couldn't really adjust the car anymore for the round. We start a little bit of pace starting in Q2. We gambled on the black tires in the end, which I thought could have worked actually. (Scott) Dixon coming out of pits in front of me, it was a little difficult for me. It broke me out of my rhythm. It's not him. He didn't block me or anything. It just took me out of my rhythm a little bit and I didn't extract the best out of the car that lap. That should have been the lap that did it. You should always be happy when you're in the Firestone Fast Six. Third is a good place to start. Last time we won we were third with the PPG car, so I'm happy."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "Another bad qualifying for the team. Personally, I think I got everything I could out of the car. It's not like we are not trying; we are trying everything we can. As a team we are working really hard to be back in the front. It's Toronto… Anything can happen tomorrow and maybe with a little bit of luck we can get up front. We are still working on it and will never give up."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Dr Pepper Honda): "(Qualifying is) a tough one to talk about. We are just lacking grip all around. I did a stint on (the Firestone alternate) reds and it felt like I was on blacks. We need to find more grip for not just the Dr Pepper car, but for the team."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "What we're missing is overall grip and compliance – it's so important on a track like this. We're not even on the same planet as the frontrunners right now when it comes to grip. You can just watch them through (Turns) 9 and 10 in front of the pits. You can watch all of our cars, it just seems like we're really fighting the cars. When you're talking about something as close as the two-tenths (of a second) we needed to advance, it's just so hard to put a lap together when you don't have enough grip to deal with it. We'll look at it, but all our cars are together (on the grid). As a team we have to work on it, because we shouldn't be here. It's really unfortunate; it's not fun at the moment."

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "Really disappointing qualifying, a kick in the gut really. We were fast this morning and very quick on the blacks in qualifying but when we put the reds on, we picked up a bit too much understeer and missed out advancing by a fraction of a second. Disappointed but the ABC Supply Honda was strong on the blacks and has been strong all weekend. We're starting in the middle of the pack so hopefully we can have a solid race. We look forward to tomorrow because we have a fast car."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet): "I'm a little disappointed with that result, but I'm really proud of the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys and the work they did last night on the car after I made contact with the wall in the last practice session. The No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet was great this morning, but I just seemed to miss it a little bit on qualifying trying to get the grip and lap time out of those alternate Firestones. I know we've got good tires and a great car tomorrow, now we just need to put together a good strategy to get up front."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda): "It was a pretty abysmal qualifying, I think. We went in with high hopes after the final practice this morning but nothing seemed to come together this afternoon. It's very disappointing to have to start where we do, especially on a track that is challenging to make a pass. We're going to need a bit of luck on our side tomorrow."

Lineup

Rank Car Driver Name Engine Time Speed Session
1 9 Dixon, Scott CHEVY 59.9073 107.326 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
2 3 Castroneves, Helio CHEVY 59.9425 107.263 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
3 22 Pagenaud, Simon CHEVY 01:00.2293 106.752 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
4 12 Power, Will CHEVY 01:00.4085 106.435 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
5 11 Bourdais, Sebastien CHEVY 01:00.4221 106.411 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
6 5 Hinchcliffe, James HONDA 01:01.5637 104.438 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
7 18 Daly, Conor (R) HONDA 01:00.5693 106.153 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
8 21 Newgarden, Josef CHEVY 01:00.5885 106.119 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
9 2 Montoya, Juan Pablo CHEVY 01:00.6532 106.006 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
10 7 Aleshin, Mikhail HONDA 01:00.6635 105.988 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
11 19 Filippi, Luca HONDA 01:00.7784 105.788 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
12 10 Kanaan, Tony CHEVY 01:00.8561 105.653 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
13 41 Hawksworth, Jack HONDA 01:00.6930 105.936 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
14 8 Chilton, Max (R) CHEVY 01:00.6372 106.034 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
15 26 Munoz, Carlos HONDA 01:00.7712 105.800 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
16 15 Rahal, Graham HONDA 01:00.7088 105.909 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
17 83 Kimball, Charlie CHEVY 01:00.9060 105.566 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
18 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan HONDA 01:00.8721 105.625 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
19 98 Rossi, Alexander (R) HONDA 01:01.2087 105.044 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
20 14 Sato, Takuma HONDA 01:01.4012 104.715 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
21 20 Pigot, Spencer (R) CHEVY 01:01.3360 104.826 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
22 27 Andretti, Marco HONDA 01:01.4384 104.651 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

Leave a Reply