Dixon Continues To Own Indy On Carb Day

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 29 2021

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon was leader of the pack at Carb Day on Friday. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

INDIANAPOLIS – Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is for sending messages, and the word from Scott Dixon is…don’t necessarily believe your lyin’ eyes.

Dixon retained his vice-like grip on the fastest car of the month honor around the 2.5-mile oval Friday, pacing the final practice before the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500. The 2008 Indy 500 champion, Dixon posted a rain-delayed hot lap of 228.323 mph after qualifying on-pole last Sunday at an average of 231.685 mph.

Meanwhile, Team Penske rallied from last weekend’s disappointing qualifying results to place 2019 Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud and teammate Josef Newgarden second and third on the chart, respectively. Additionally, 2018 Indy 500 champion/Row 11 starter Will Power and rookie Scott McLaughlin of New Zealand placed sixth and seventh. 

So, what’s it all mean?

“I don’t think it means anything at all,” said Dixon, nevertheless reinforcing his role as favorite in the No. 9 Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing. “It’s been good that our cars I think have been able to get speed out of them quite easily for this 500. Again, it doesn’t really mean too much.”

Native Brazilian Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion and Dixon’s teammate, was eighth overall at 225.929 mph in the No. 48 Honda.

“I think it’s more about you know how the car felt,” said Dixon, the six-time/reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion. “I think we were pretty comfortable. I think all four (Ganassi) cars _ I saw T.K. briefly _ he seems pretty happy as well. Some of those (speeds) are lucky if you line up a tow. Mine was lucky, T.K. helped me out on that one.”

Persistent morning showers delayed the start of practice by 2 hours, 37 minutes; the session ended 10 minutes short of the scheduled two hours when rain returned. Cloudy skies and unseasonably cool temperatures in the high 50s _ about 25 degrees cooler than during Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying last weekend _ increased downforce and grip and led to a series of daring passes.

“Everybody felt like King Kong out there with the weather conditions,” said Dixon, of New Zealand. “That may give you an indication of how the race will be. If it’s like this, it’s going to be mentally draining. There’s going to be a lot of action going on.”

Andretti Autosport teammates Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay ran side-by-side at the yard of brick at Indy during Carb Day Friday.

Frenchman Pagenaud, who will start 26th, was second-fast at 227.157 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet. Two-time series champion Newgarden, who qualified 21st, placed third at 226.856 mph in the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet.

Conor Daly, fourth Friday at 226.399 mph, was outspoken about the level of aggression on display after a near-incident with Santino Ferrucci and his No. 45 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

“It was a bit ridiculous,” said Daly, driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet fielded by Ed Carpenter Racing. “I don’t really mind. It was on-track, he hits the curb in Turn 2, nearly crashes, but also decides to drive me all the way into the (infield) grass.

“Earlier on when I passed him, the guy tries to, like, I don’t know. I was like, ‘I thought this is Carb Day. I get it, but I thought we were practicing.’ I didn’t know we were sacrificing our vehicles for a prize today. Did you win anything today? I didn’t.”

Marco Andretti, the 2020 pole-sitter making his first start of the season, completed the top-five at  226.396 mph in the No. 98 Honda. Marco will start 25th.

While Team Penske, winner of a record 18 Indy 500’s, was shut out of the first five rows during qualifying, the final practice results indicated all four of its cars could contend for victory Sunday after strong performances in heavy traffic.

Power was sixth overall at 226.223 mph in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet after squeezing into the 11th/final row of the field in Last Chance Qualifying. McLaughlin, the top Penske qualifier in 17th, was seventh in practice at 226.192 mph in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet.

Power said his car is “in a good window” after being outfitted with a new Chevrolet twin-turbocharged V-6 engine. “It’s probably a little bit better,” said Power, a native of Australia. “Felt good, felt good. It’s just going to be a matter of catching a good yellow or if it’s cool you can pass. Hoping for a cooler day. We’ll see what happens.

“Yeah, we actually improved the car by the end there. Car’s really nice. Yeah, it would just be a matter of circumstance and also performance to make it happen, to get to the front. It’s not impossible.

“Obviously, you can’t be too conservative but you can’t be too aggressive either. You don’t want to end up in the wall. Just a methodical day. Good pit stop sequences, maybe fish for a lucky yellow, strategy call like that.

“You can’t force it around this place. You just can’t. You got to get a good balance and get in that rhythm. It’s very difficult to tell if you can pass 32 cars back. Like last year at the start, qualified 24th or something. You couldn’t do much at all. It’s a bit more downforce this year, I’m hoping that you can, if you got a bit better car, get through a few cars. Starts and restarts will matter, and good pit stops.”

Colton Herta, below, and Takuma Sato during Carb Day on Friday.

Dixon said he “honestly felt bad” for Power while he struggled to find speed during qualifying. 

“Obviously, he’s a fierce competitor,” said Dixon, the championship point-leader. “Seeing the struggles _ not him _ but the team are going through for qualifying pace. He’s probably the greatest qualifier of our era if not all time. You definitely know it’s not him, it’s just one of those frustrating things. He handled it extremely well. I’m sure at some point we’ll be fighting it out. Should be great.”

Sunday’s forecast is for partly sunny skies and highs in the low 70s. ”It’s been a while since we’ve had kind of a cool race day, maybe 2017. It’s been a little bit,” Dixon said. “Looking forward to it if that’s the way it plays out. But I think when the pack is a lot tighter, it also has the opportunity for some missteps and maybe some bigger caution periods, things like that. Hopefully everybody remains safe.”

Takuma Sato, the two-time/reigning Indy 500 champion, was ninth overall at 225.701 mph in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

“It was good to get the data under the very cold conditions with wind and steering,” said Sato, the native of Tokyo who will start 15th.  “The track and downforce demand is a bit different. It was a tough run, but I think we checked quite a few things between the No. 15 (of Graham Rahal) and No. 45 car (of Ferrucci) so I think we collected quite good data.  Now we need to gather everything and pick the best of the best Sunday.”

Green flag for the 105th edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. (EDT) Sunday. Live coverage starts at 11 a.m. on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.


Retired motorsports TV/radio personality Bob Jenkins was presented the Robin Miller Award in ceremonies at the DEX Imaging Media Center prior to Friday’s Carb Day practice at IMS.

A native of Richmond, Ind., Jenkins rose to national prominence in the 1980s covering motorsports for ESPN’s fledgling 24-hour cable sports network and later worked for Velocity. Miller, a former Indianapolis Star motorsports beat writer, presented Jenkins with a plaque “Honoring an unheralded individual who has dedicated a significant portion of their life to IndyCar racing while bringing unbridled passion and unrelenting work ethic to enrich the sport.”

Jenkins, 73, revealed in February he is battling brain cancer and accepted the award while seated in a chair. He spoke briefly, warning an audience that included Mario Andretti, IMS owner Roger Penske and former ESPN colleague Dr. Jerry Punch that he has trouble organizing his thoughts and speaking.

“I am a race fan who got lucky,” Jenkins said softly into a microphone. “I got lucky because there were jobs in radio and TV available, and I took them. Because of public exposure, people think it’s a big deal… I’m just a race fan, and I always will be.”

Jenkins, who graduated from Indiana University in 1969, had worked at IMS covering the Indy 500 in some capacity since 1979. 


Final qualifying results/starting lineup for the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge NTT IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with rank, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (9) Scott Dixon-(W), Dallara-Honda, 2:35.3837 (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-(W), Dallara-Honda, 2:35.8229 (231.032)
6. (10) Alex Palou, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.1039 (230.616)
7. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay-(W), Dallara-Honda, 2:36.1827 (230.499)
8. (06) Helio Castroneves-(W), Dallara-Honda, 2:36.2804 (230.355)
9. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.3054 (230.318)
10. (27) Alexander Rossi-(W), 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-(R), Dallara-Honda, 2:35.9481 (230.846)
14. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.0168 (230.744)
15. (30) Takuma Sato-(W), Dallara-Honda, 2:36.0417 (230.708)
16. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.1395 (230.563)
17. (3) Scott McLaughlin-(R), 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-(W), Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.5961 (229.891)
25. (98) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.6089 (229.872)
26. (22) Simon Pagenaud-(W), 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-(W), Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.2905 (228.876)
33. (16) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.6504 (228.353)

NTT IndyCar Series point standings: 1, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing, 176; 2, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, 163; 3, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, 148; 4, Pato O’Ward, Arrow McLaren SP, 146; 5, Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 137; 6, Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing, 135; 7, Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske, 130; 8, Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske, 123; 9, Will Power, Team Penske, 118; 10, Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport, 117.

Note _ All cars use the fourth generation NTT IndyCar Series chassis (Dallara IR-12) with universal IR-18 aerodynamic bodywork, Chevrolet or Honda twin-turbocharged V-6 engines and Firestone Firehawk tires.

(W) _Denotes Indianapolis 500 winner

(R) _ Denotes Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year candidate


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 29 2021
No Comment