There were many sources behind the smile on Scott Dixon’s face. The new Indianapolis 500 polesitter was beaming as he spoke with the press following his record-breaking run, and beyond the natural high of setting a four-lap average of 234.046mph, the New Zealander was also elated to find some of the little granules of magic that have been elusive for most of the year.
Considering some of their challenges leading into the Indy 500 where Dixon and his No.9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda team continue to hunt for their first win in more than a year and first podium of the season, the run to pole was a welcome return to the kind of form that’s expected from the six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion.
“I think simplicity is key,” Dixon told RACER. “And honestly, some of the races that we’ve had this year, namely the issue as the Indy GP where we just we kept throwing the kitchen sink at it, every time I got in the car, it was a new car to try and learn. And when you’ve only got one or two laps in qualifying, that’s just not a possibility. So we kept it simple. You know, [Saturday], we talked ourselves out of things that we shouldn’t have, and kudos to [race engineer Michael] Cannon who got aggressive on the last run and the car was a dream to drive.”
With Chevrolet’s dominance this year with taking four out of five wins leading into the Indy 500, the Bowtie was tipped to continue its hot streak with pole, but Dixon and teammate Alex Palou showed out for Honda with a 1-2 performance on Pole Day.
“Great job by Honda,” Dixon said. “They’ve definitely had the speed the last few years here and we knew we had an advantage last year. But then again, it can change tomorrow.
“I think the conditions favored us a little bit today. But we’re going to keep working hard and I know HPD and everybody there is working at 100 percent.”
The biggest story of the event has been CGR’s five-car armada running strong in race trim during practice and again in qualifying where all five drivers made the Fast 12 and four transferred into the Fast Six where Dixon and Palou have teammates Marcus Ericsson (P5), Tony Kanaan (P6), and Jimmie Johnson (P12) in advantageous positions to start the 200-lap event.
“It really is amazing. And honestly, had Jimmie not had the hiccup there, I think all of us would have been in the Fast Six,” Dixon said of Johnson’s near-hit with the Turn 1 wall on his first lap. “And that would have been crazy. I just said to Jimmie, ‘Man, I don’t think I would have saved that there, like, you had understeer and then you lost the rear. I’m pretty sure I would have hit the outside wall and the inside wall.
“He’s done a hell of a job this this couple of weeks this week, especially, and even bringing stuff that he knows from the Cup side and how they control certain things that the car does has really helped us.”