Ganassi falls short in bid to stop Penske pole streak


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.”

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.