Dixon team scrambling to change engines before Indy final qualifying

Photo: IndyCar

INDIANAPOLIS – Drama is striking two teams before the second and final day of qualifying for the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

At Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, an apparent engine issue has forced the crew of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet team to change the engine on Scott Dixon’s car prior to qualifying.

Ganassi team manager Mike Hull told Katie Hargitt on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway P.A. system, “Our people leaped right onto the project. We had an undiagnosed engine problem this morning. Rather than take a chance for qualifying, we decided to bite the bullet and change the engine.

“Normally by sunset! It’d be heroic for our people to get it changed and back into the qualifying line, but that’s what we need to do.”

A similar thrash is occurring at Dale Coyne Racing, to fix the handling on Pippa Mann’s No. 63 Susan G. Komen Honda, which was repaired after her rear wing end fence failure during her qualifying attempt on Saturday. Mann completed six laps of installation but none at proper speed this morning.

There wasn’t a ton of running in the final pre-qualifying practice on Sunday, which was set into three groups – positions 22-33, 10-21 and 1-9.

The craziest moment of the final practice saw NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell nearly lose the rear of his No. 29 California Pizza Kitchen/Robert Graham Honda for Andretti Autosport.

He basically drifted it sideways through Turn 1, but caught it. Below is the save, and the subsequent crowd reaction.

Bell told Kevin Lee of IndyCar Radio (both are on NBCSN IndyCar telecasts), “It’s still difficult out there. We have a very fast race car. It’s about how much you can get away with.”

As he did on Saturday, Alexander Rossi led the final session before qualifying in the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda for Andretti Autosport.

But after getting bounced right at the end of the first day of qualifying from making the Fast Nine Shootout, the best Rossi can qualify is 10th.

Speeds are below:


Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III