Dixon Back On Track After Having Gun Put To Head

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 23 2017

Scott Dixon is back safe and sound in his Indy car after being robbed by armed teen-agers in Indianapolis on Sunday. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

Newly-crowned Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Scott Dixon returned to the relative safety of life at 225-plus mph Monday, hours after being robbed at gunpoint at a fast food restaurant near Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Dixon, wife Emma and three-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti were unharmed in an incident that occurred at approximately 10 p.m. at a Taco Bell on West 16th Street, approximately one mile from the Speedway. According to reports in Racer.com and USA Today, Dixon’s car was approached by two males who robbed him of his wallet and cell phone and fled.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that two juvenile suspects, ages 14  and 15, were arrested a short time later. 

Chip Ganassi Racing released the following statement:

“Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti are completely fine after being held up last (Sunday) night by two men at a fast food restaurant in Speedway, Ind. Thank you to everyone for all of your concerns about their well-being. However, we will allow the Speedway/Indianapolis police departments to handle the situation and while they conduct

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon was unhurt during Sunday’s armed robbery.

their investigation, we will refrain from making any further comments to allow Scott to focus on the upcoming Indianapolis 500.”

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police confirmed the arrests in a robbery of credit cards and other personal valuables from Dixon, his wife and Franchitti. Both teens were charged with robbery, and the 15-year old also was charged with resisting law enforcement.

According to USA Today, the police report listed Dixon’s wife, Emma Davies-Dixon, as a third victim of the robbery. However, police spokesman Aaron Hamer said Dixon’s wife was not in the vehicle at the time and the investigation was ongoing.

Tony Kanaan, Dixon’s Ganassi teammate, said Dixon had his wife’s wallet at the time of the incident. Kanaan said Dixon was making a food run for a group of drivers, including himself.

“While they were ordering with their windows down two guys approached at gunpoint,” Kanaan told The Indianapolis Star. “They held a gun at Dixon’s head and asked him for his wallet and his phone. You don’t expect that to happen, especially here.”

The Dixons and Franchitti _ a retired four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion _ reportedly had gone to a downtown restaurant earlier, only to find it had stopped serving. That led to a fast food run that almost turned tragic.

A 36-year-old native of New Zealand, Dixon qualified on-pole for the third time Sunday afternoon via a four-lap/10-mile average speed of 232.164 mph around the historic 2.5-mile oval during the Fast Nine Shootout. The 101st running of the Indy 500 is scheduled for Sunday. Dixon won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 2008.

Dixon, like Franchitti a four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, was third in Monday’s practice with a hot lap of 227.165 mph. “We went through some race setups and tried some trim levels depending on the day,” said Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Camping World Honda. “We had a few issues with some adjustments that we went the wrong way on. I think all in all to be honest the car was pretty strong, but the only unfortunate part is that there are lots of strong cars.”

The session was topped by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton with a lap of 228.592 mph in the No. 8 Gallagher Honda. Chilton logged 108 laps _ more than half-a-race _ in a bid to further his learning curve.

“The more laps you do around here, the more you learn,” said Chilton, who finished 15th as an Indy 500 rookie in 2016 and will start in that spot Sunday. “I don’t think anyone out there is overly happy with their car in race traffic. You keep trying to learn, trying to get it better. In clear air, I seem to be pretty competitive. In dirty air, I started to learn how to time the moves. This is going to be my second 500. I’m still learning but it’s always nice to finish the day at the top of the time sheet.”

A total of 2,705 laps were completed by the 33 entries in a session that easily was the busiest practice day this Month of May, despite the fact the track was open for only 3.5 hours compared to the six hours available on practice days last week.

Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Ed Jones was second on the time sheet in the incident-free session with a best lap at 228.118 mph in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud was optimistic after turning the fastest lap of the Chevrolet drivers and fourth best overall at 226.998 mph in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. Pagenaud, the series point-leader after five races, will start 23rd in Sunday’s 200-lapper.

“We didn’t have the speed in qualifying. We haven’t had the speed last week at all to compete,” said Pagenaud, winner of the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road-course on May 13. “It was unfortunate and a bit of a mystery. (Sunday), I said the mysteries of Indianapolis…it’s what makes this place legendary, I guess.

We made a lot of changes last night, mostly on obviously bodywork, because it’s a different package than qualifying, and also a new engine to go for the race. It’s a weapon, that engine, to put in there. They put a new engine that’s really strong. Chevy did a tremendous job with calibration. I felt like my race car was very good last week, and we showed it today I think in the heat. It actually gets really good in traffic. It can run with people.

“There’s definitely a big competition between Honda and Chevy. Honda’s done a very strong job, bringing a strong engine and aero. But we have what we need, I think, to have a strong race. Again, it’s 500 miles so a lot can happen.”

Among former race winners, three-time Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves of Team Penske was sixth (226.705 mph); 2014 race-winner Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport was seventh (226.542); reigning champion Alexander Rossi, also of the Andretti camp, was ninth (226.376); 2013 winner Kanaan was 14th (225.955); two-time winner Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske was 24th (224.651) and 1996 winner Buddy Lazier was 33rd (218.998).

Fernando Alonso, the two-time Formula One World Driving Champion making his oval track/Indianapolis 500 debut this month, ran the day’s second-most laps (122) and finished 12th on the speed chart at 226.147 mph in the No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda.

Ed Carpenter, an Indianapolis resident and only owner/driver in the series, was 25th overall at 224.442 mph after qualifying second Sunday at 231.664 mph.

“I still think we’re one of the fastest Chevys,” said Carpenter, driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka Chevrolet. “It’s still hard with the Hondas in traffic, they have something we don’t. It’s slightly concerning for Race Day, but we’ll take a look and run as trimmed as we can. I’m happy with the car, the team has done a good job and we’re getting what we can out of it. We’re competitive. We just didn’t get a tow today, so the pylon didn’t light up.”

Meanwhile, James Davison turned his first laps of the month in the No. 18 GEICO Honda after being named to replace injured Sebastien Bourdais for Dale Coyne Racing. Bourdais, a four-time Champ Car champion, suffered pelvis and hip fractures in a violent crash exiting Turn 2 during a qualifying attempt Saturday. Davison, who has two previous Indy 500 starts, ran 88 laps with a best speed of 223.670 mph.

“We’re running a road-course backup car (that has been transformed into superspeedway configuration),” said Davison, a 30-year-old Australian. “We knew we weren’t going to be particularly quick, but we just needed to try to get the car to handle well with a lot of cars in front of us obviously. We’re starting 33rd. We tried a number of things as the day went on. I would say it wasn’t the right direction, but we’re smarter from it now. We’ll just try and go another step forward with the car on Carb Day.”

Teams are idle until the final one-hour practice set for 11 a.m. (ET) Friday during Miller Lite Carb Day (NBC Sports Network and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network). The 101st Indianapolis 500 is the sixth of 17 races on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Race coverage on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday. Tickets remain available at IMS.com.  


 Starting grid  for the 101st Indianapolis 500 Verizon IndyCar Series race on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with rank, car number in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 02:35.0630 (232.164 mph)
2. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 02:35.3976 (231.664)     
3. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 02:35.5163 (231.487)     
4. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 02:35.5981 (231.365)      
5. (29) Fernando Alonso, Honda, 02:35.6423 (231.300)     
6. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 02:35.9191 (230.889)     
7. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 02:35.9601 (230.828)     
8. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 02:36.1998 (230.474)     
9. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 02:36.3859 (230.200)     
10. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 02:35.5463 (231.442)     
11. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 02:36.1293 (230.578)     
12. (16) Oriol Servia, Honda, 02:36.3118 (230.309)     
13. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 02:36.3377 (230.271)      
14. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 02:36.3499 (230.253)     
15. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 02:36.4758 (230.068)     
16. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 02:36.5514 (229.956)     
17. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 02:36.6169 (229.860)     
18. (22) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 02:36.8180 (229.565)
19. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 02:36.8528 (229.515) 
20. (77) Jay Howard, Honda, 02:36.9213 (229.414)     
21. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 02:36.9447 (229.380)     
22. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 02:37.5488 (228.501) 
23. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 02:37.8303 (228.093) 
24. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 02:37.9497 (227.921)     
25. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 02:38.6458 (226.921)     
26. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 02:38.9831 (226.439)     
27. (50) Jack Harvey, Honda, 02:39.4741 (225.742)     
28. (63) Pippa Mann, Honda, 02:39.9944 (225.008)     
29. (11) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 02:40.6768 (224.052) 
30. (44) Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, 02:41.1340 (223.417)     
31. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet, 02:42.7911 (221.142) 
32. (40) Zach Veach, Chevrolet, 02:42.8360 (221.081)      
33. (18) James Davison, Honda, no time, (no speed)     

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 23 2017
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