Qualifying bid may have lacked, but don’t discount Ganassi in Indy 500

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If Chip Ganassi Racing is looking for a theme song to provide inspiration for next Sunday’s milestone 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, it can get it from an old World War II Merry Melodies cartoon:

“We did it before and we can do it again.”

Following Sunday’s qualifying that set the grid for the 100th edition of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, CGR’s four drivers admittedly have a long way to go in the 500.

But all they have to do is reflect back a few years to 2012 to know anything’s possible: Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon qualified 16th and 17th, only to finish 1-2 in the race itself.

Here’s how Team Ganassi’s qualifying efforts played out Sunday:

* Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon qualified 13th on Sunday. That’s actually quite an achievement as Dixon’s team had to replace an engine before qualifying:

“An amazing job by everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing,” said Dixon, who was 13th fastest in Saturday’s qualifying as well. “To try and get an engine changed, especially with how complicated these cars are now with all the turbos and everything, was definitely a big struggle to do it in the timeframe that we needed to get to tech.

“IndyCar (officials) were right there telling us unless we get there by that time we are not going to be able to qualify. Definitely a very frustrating situation having an engine go qualifying morning when you get one shot to qualify here. Just pumped for the team, obviously.

“It’s not where we want to be starting, but I think the lightning bolt Team Target Chevy has been strong especially in race running. It’s going to be a tough start to the 100th, but we can definitely get to the top spot.”

* Charlie Kimball improved from 25th fastest on Saturday to earning 16th position (inside of Row 6) for the 500:

“I was much happier with the run with the car today,” Kimball said. “We made some big changes to the car last night and it was much better this morning. It was a little less reactive to the condition, which was nice. We fought the wind a great deal yesterday.

“That is the great thing about Chip Ganassi Racing; you have a lot of data to learn from especially guys that are as good as TK (Tony Kanaan) and Dixon. Overall, I’m happy with how today went. We have a really good race car.

“We had to be intelligent with how we spent the one bullet we had in the gun today. We had to be smart with it and put it in the show and then work on the race car tomorrow and Friday. It is not where you start here, it is where you finish.”

* Tony Kanaan improved only slightly, from 19th on Saturday to 18th for the 500:

“Of course, I’m disappointed with our run today,” Kanaan said. “We’ve struggled all week finding speed, but we thought we had the car to a point after this morning’s practice that we felt good about.

“It’s just been frustrating when you know you can be faster, but it just doesn’t come together. It is what is it is, though. We’ll just need to put this behind us and refocus on our race car. I’ve said it before, but I started further back in the field when I won in 2013 so no one should be writing us off yet.”

* Max Chilton gained nine spots from 31st on Saturday (due to wrecking) to qualifying 22nd for the 500 on Sunday:

“I’m really looking forward to (the 500). On Friday I was super comfortable in the car and really feel like we could have been between top 10 to 15.  Then we struggled a little as a team and with my inexperience, I put it in the wall (Saturday).

“I just wasn’t feeling the car enough. The reason I shook every one of the guy’s hands is because they completely built a car from scratch in 12 hours last night. It is disappointing for them that we had to go through that, but I have to give them their due. They did a great job and we are in the Indy 500. People have won it from the back before.”

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

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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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 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

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