The Verizon P1 Award should probably be rechristened the “Penske P1 Deathgrip Award,” at least until someone ends the team’s current pole position streak, which stands at eight races after Will Power’s latest triumph Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Penske’s only obstacle Friday during qualifying for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at IMS was Chip Ganassi Racing.
The Firestone Fast Six saw the field whittled down to all four Penske drivers and the Ganassi duo of Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon. Dixon hasn’t had a pole since Iowa last year, and Kanaan last started P1 at Richmond International Raceway in 2008.
Neither driver snapped those stretches.
Dixon qualified second to Power with a time of 1:09.7156, while Power earned his 38th career pole.
“We tried to get tricky in Q2 on used reds (tires),” Dixon said. “Didn’t get the start of laps together. We needed another tenth (of a second). I think we just got past the start/finish line by 0.13, so we just made the start of that lap. Definitely a nail biting situation. Unfortunately it bit us.”
Any team would be biting its nails were it in a prime position to end Penske’s front row dominance that stretches back six races to Auto Club Speedway in 2014. In this case, Ganassi did.
“(Power) converted and made it through. (The) car is generally pretty good,” said Dixon, who was fastest in the second practice session on Thursday. “Don’t think we had enough for pole. Power did a really good job. Wasn’t too clean on getting all my laps together.”
Kanaan finished with a fastest time of 1:10.2772 and will start sixth Saturday, behind Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud, the defending race winner.
“We started the weekend with big problems. We finally got it together,” said Kanaan, who thanked Dixon for sharing his setup with Kanaan’s No. 10 Chevrolet team. “We finally put his setup on. We started the weekend a bit behind already.
Kanaan is pleased to be starting sixth after being 21st at one point in the qualifying session.
“We saw what happened in Barber,” Kanaan said. “People saved tires. It will be hard. I knew when I made to the Fast Six I wasn’t going anywhere. Those (Penske) guys were in another level. We have another night before tomorrow.”