He recorded the fastest lap of the weekend in Group 1
Competitors in the Firestone Fast Six for the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT had a combined 50 IZOD IndyCar Series pole starts — all by Scott Dixon (19) and Will Power (31) — which made the veteran drivers targets for four others seeking the notoriety.
Five different teams were represented in the 10-minute session.
It was Dixon, though, who earned the Verizon P1 Award by blitzing the 2.04-mile, 12-turn street circuit in 1 minute, 18.0838 seconds on his final lap. He recorded the fastest lap of the weekend in Group 1 of Round 1 of qualifications (1:17.9275), which bettered the 2012 pole time laid down by Team Penske’s Will Power.
Scott Dixon on pole in Baltimore
“Good to bounce back after last week,” said Dixon, who placed 15th at Sonoma Raceway after incurring a pit safety violation drive-through penalty late in the race.
Dixon picked up one bonus point for his second pole of the season and enters the 75-lap race 38 points behind championship front-runner Helio Castroneves, who qualified seventh in the No. 3 PPG Team Penske car.
“I feel so happy for Team Target, they did a hell of a good job,” Dixon said. “We had a sensor failure in Q2, which almost knocked us out. Big thanks to Honda for figuring it out and fixing that in Q3. The car’s been quick all week. I actually made a few mistakes on that lap and we were still able to pull it out. It’s a good place to start here at Baltimore. It’s going to be a tight race.”
Dixon, who broke a tie with Danny Sullivan and is tied with Gordon Johncock for 14th on the all-time pole-winning list, advanced to the Firestone Fast Six when the No. 15 blu eCigs car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driven by Graham Rahal lost its two fastest laps for bringing out the red flag when it nosed into the tire barrier on the left of Turn 8 (at pit exit).
While waiting in the car for the cars on track to clear the incident, the No. 55 Environmental Rail Solutions Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car driven by Tristan Vautier struck the rear of Rahal’s car. Rahal was evaluated at the infield care center and cleared to drive.
Rahal was running third with 2 minutes left in the session. Vautier’s crew made a front wing change in time to participate in the 10-minute Firestone Fast Six and he qualified sixth. It was the first Firestone Fast Six appearance since Barber in mid-April and third of the season for Vautier, who won the Firestone Indy Lights race at Baltimore last September.
Power was .0333 of a second behind Dixon in the final session and will make his sixth front-row start of the season in the No. Verizon Team Penske car.
“It was a tough qualifying man, but we gave it everything we had in the Verizon Team Penske Chevy,” said Power, who won the Aug. 25 race at Sonoma after starting third. “Our chance to get pole really came the lap before our final lap but we just couldn’t get there. It should be a good race. With the chicanes (after Turn 12), especially, there could be a lot of action and I expect it will be another good battle.”
Simon Pagenaud, who topped the morning practice session time sheet, will start a season-high third in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car. He’s coming off consecutive top-five finishes.
Pagenaud’s team co-owner, Davey Hamilton, was not at the track. He qualified second for a Sprint Car race in Oswego, N.Y., later in the evening.
Justin Wilson, making his first Firestone Fast Six appearance of the season, qualified fourth and Josef Newgarden qualified a season-high fifth in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car.
Newgarden, in his second year with the team, did not compete at Baltimore last year because of an injury suffered in the race at Sonoma the week earlier.
Wilson had qualified seventh the past two races (eighth- and second-place finishes) in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing.
“It was nice to finally make the Firestone Fast Six after being so close the past two weekends,” said Wilson, the runner-up at Sonoma.
“We improved a few tenths on our time in the last run on the red alternate tires. I am looking forward to the race and hopefully bringing home another podium finish for the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car.”
Dario Franchitti, who earned the pole at Sonoma Raceway a week earlier, missed qualifying for Round 2 by less than a tenth of a second in the No. 10 Cessna car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Franchitti will lose 10 grid spots for the race because of the crew installing the sixth engine of the season. Each full-season entrant is allowed five fresh-built engines through the engine service agreement. Each engine has a 2,000-mile threshold before it can be changed without penalty.
James Jakes, who was seventh in Group 1 of Round 1, also will incur a 10 grid-spot penalty because the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing crew installed the sixth engine of the season.
Following the 10:15 a.m. (ET) warm-up, NBC Sports Network will broadcast the 75-lap race at 2 p.m. Live Timing & Scoring augmented by the IMS Radio Network broadcast is available on www.indcyar.com and the INDYCAR 13 app.