Day 2 Indy 500 qualifying results: Scott Dixon captures fourth pole position at Brickyard


INDIANAPOLIS — Blissfully unaware of how “sketchy” his car would be, Scott Dixon got in and hung on Sunday for the fourth Indy 500 pole position of his illustrious career.

Backing up a week of consistently being the fastest driver in practice and qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion laid down a four-lap average at 231.685 mph to nip the 231.655 mph by Colton Herta

It was a margin that IndyCar estimated at 6 feet over the course of 10 miles around the 2.5-mile Speedway and capped a typically breathtaking Fast Nine pole qualifying as six drivers took turns atop the famous scoring pylon before Dixon thunderously capped the session with his first pole in four years.

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“This is what this sport is about, and this is what Indianapolis is about is laying this thing on the line,” an unusually exuberant Dixon told NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider after his 27th career IndyCar pole and his sixth front row start in his 19th Indy 500.

“Just so proud of everybody on the PNC Bank team. Everybody at Chip Ganassi. Four cars in the Fast Nine. Credit to (Ed Carpenter Racing drivers Ed Carpenter and Rinus VeeKay), they threw in a hell of a fight there at the end.

“That was sketchy. It was pretty loose the last lap, I was hoping that I was going to make it through Turn 3. I was holding on.”

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon celebrates after winning his fourth Indy 500 pole position (Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images).

Though his No. 9 Dallara-Honda entered Sunday as the clear-cut favorite after posting the fastest speed in Saturday’s qualifying opener and topping practice Wednesday and Friday, the Fast Nine still tested Dixon’s legendarily cool mettle.

After going first in the qualifying order Saturday and then never being threatened, Dixon faced the opposite Sunday as he sat through 30 minutes of watching other drivers dance closer to the edge on the formidable track.

As Dixon’s team members began making tweaks to the wing angles of his car that would add speed but decrease downforce and handling, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver waved off engineers who wanted to explain the adjustments.

The world’s fastest Kiwi preferred to grip it and rip it.

“It was pretty hairy,” Dixon said. “Glad it’s over. It was definitely pretty tense.

“When I saw the first few cars run, it was pretty calm. I saw the ECR cars run. I was like, that’s pretty strong, wasn’t expecting that. I was able to watch Colton’s four laps, too, wish I hadn’t before I went out. I knew his consistency was probably going to be a tick better than the other two, and it sure was.

“Yeah, Turn 1 for the first lap was very loose, and I was already maxed out on all the controls. I knew it was just going to be holding on for lap three and four.”

The only winner older than 24 in five races this season, Dixon, 40, will have two principal members of IndyCar’s young vanguard beside him at the green flag.

Herta, 21, will start a career-best second at Indy, the first time he’s on the front row in his third start here.

“Obviously, a little frustrated we didn’t get there in the end,” said Herta, who recently signed an Andretti Autosport contract extension after winning the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. “P2 is definitely not a bad place to start for a 500-mile race.

“If I was a fan, I’d be really excited with that Fast Nine qualifying. Really, guys that just kept going faster every single run. It was actually really close for everyone. To beat Dixon, I think we really had to have that first lap and second lap just a tiny bit faster. We were so close.”

Rinus VeeKay, who just scored his first IndyCar victory last week on the IMS road course, will start third — making the Dutchman the youngest front-row starter in Indy 500 history at 20 years, 254 days.

“It’s really special,” VeeKay said. “Really, really happy. The four laps I did was on the limit. I couldn’t have gone any faster really. I had a big moment in the last lap, first corner. Yeah, kept it on track, kept it flat. Very happy, very grateful for the team for all the sleepless nights, all the hard work. Definitely also big kudos to Chevy for giving me the great power to bring me to the front row.

“I was the fastest teenager in 500 history last year. Now I’m the youngest front row. That’s pretty cool, yeah.”

Results of Day 2 final qualifying for the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (position, car number, driver, manufacturer, time and average speed over four laps in parentheses):

1. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 2 minutes, 35.3837 seconds (231.685 mph)
2. (26) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.4034 (231.655)
3. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Dallara-Chevy, 2:35.5000 (231.511)
4. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 2:35.5047 (231.504)
5. (48) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.8229 (231.032)
6. (10) Alex Palou, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.1039 (230.616)
7. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.1827 (230.499)
8. (06) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.2804 (230.355)
9. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.3054 (230.318)
10. (27) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.8132 (231.046)
11. (18) Ed Jones, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.8148 (231.044)
12. (5) Pato O’Ward, Dallara-Chevy, 2:35.9360 (230.864)
13. (51) Pietro Fittipaldi, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.9481 (230.846)
14. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.0168 (230.744)
15. (30) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.0417 (230.708)
16. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.1395 (230.563)
17. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.1435 (230.557)
18. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.1680 (230.521)
19. (47) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.2314 (230.427)
20. (60) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.3922 (230.191)
21. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.4735 (230.071)
22. (1) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.5354 (229.980)
23. (45) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.5563 (229.949)
24. (86) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.5961 (229.891)
25. (98) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.6089 (229.872)
26. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.6732 (229.778)
27. (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.6964 (229.744)
28. (25) Stefan Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.7166 (229.714)
29. (59) Max Chilton, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.9195 (229.417)
30. (4) Dalton Kellett, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.6717 (228.323)
31. (24) Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.0982 (229.156)
32. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.2905 (228.876)
33. (16) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.6504 (228.353)

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”