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Dixon takes pole after acrimonious session

Dixon takes pole after acrimonious session
Sep 3, 2016, 9:03 PM

Scott Dixon grabbed a predictable pole but in an unpredictable way, as he set his fastest time – and a new track record – on the harder compound black tires. Behind him however, there were several incidents that caused penalties.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Polesitter Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver set a 1min22.5259sec lap, over five seconds under the old IndyCar track record set in 2009. But it was a close-run thing as Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Will Power came within 0.0483sec of toppling the #9 car him from top spot. It was Dixon's second pole of the season and 25th of his career.

Power was somewhat fortunate to have made it to the Firestone Fast Six, as the red tires weren’t providing enough grip in the track conditions, and Penske cars seemed hardest hit. He ended Q2 in seventh. 

However, Mikhail Aleshin, who had appeared to reach the top six, had his fastest two laps deleted for interfering with Juan Pablo Montoya’s qualifying run, which allowed Power to move forward. Penske took full advantage, put Power on blacks, and he rediscovered his speed.

Power then got unlucky as his engine briefly died as he was about to start his fastest lap, which cost him momentum as he came to the timing line. But he was happier than third-placed qualifier Sebastien Bourdais. His engine died completely as he came to start his fastest lap, and had blown his previous lap by running wide at Turn 1.

Helio Castroneves chose reds to set his fastest time, fourth fastest, with Tony Kanaan and Max Chilton making it three Ganassi cars in the top six. It was ex-F1 driver Chilton’s best qualifying session of his IndyCar career.

Championship leader Simon Pagenaud was a disappointing seventh, and will start alongside teammate Montoya, with Jack Hawksworth an impressive ninth for AJ Foyt Racing, the top Honda entry. Aleshin was a disgruntled 10th, rookie RC Enerson a deeply impressive 11th for Dale Coyne Racing, and Josef Newgarden a subdued 12th.

Other furious drivers included Rahal – who was penalized for interfering with Hawksworth and Hinchcliffe, who was penalized for interfering with Power. They will start from unrepresentative 20th and 13th places. 

Takuma Sato will start last after having his best two laps deleted when he crashed at the end of Q1 and brought out the red flag.

Watkins Glen - Qualifying

 DriverTeam (Engine)Time
1 9  Scott Dixon   Ganassi (C) 1:22.5259
2 12  Will Power   Penske (C) 1:22.5742
3 11  Sébastien Bourdais   KVSH (C) 1:22.7844
4 3  Helio Castroneves   Penske (C) 1:22.8748
5 10  Tony Kanaan   Ganassi (C) 1:22.9158
6 8  Max Chilton   Ganassi (C) 1:23.0064
7 22  Simon Pagenaud   Penske (C) 1:23.4660
8 2  Juan Pablo Montoya   Penske (C) 1:23.5493
9 41  Jack Hawksworth   Foyt (H) 1:23.6392
10 7  Mikhail Aleshin   Schmidt (H) 1:23.7744
11 19  R.C. Enerson   Coyne (H) 1:23.9907
12 21  Josef Newgarden   Carpenter (C) 1:24.0983
13 5  James Hinchcliffe   Schmidt (H) 1:23.7342
14 98  Alexander Rossi   Andretti-Herta (H) 1:24.0908
15 15  Graham Rahal   Rahal (H) 1:24.1716
16 18  Conor Daly   Coyne (H) 1:24.2606
17 28  Ryan Hunter-Reay   Andretti (H) 1:24.5254
18 83  Charlie Kimball   Ganassi (C) 1:24.8928
19 20  Spencer Pigot   Carpenter (C) 1:25.1826
20 26  Carlos Muñoz   Andretti (H) 1:25.5560
21 27  Marco Andretti   Andretti (H) 1:26.4285
22 14  Takuma Sato   Foyt (H) 2:12.3265

(C) = Chevrolet ; (H) = Honda


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