Scott Dixon has survived a dramatic qualifying session to claim his twentieth IndyCar Series career pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Baltimore.
The New Zealander staged a thrilling duel with Penske rival Will Power in the final ‘Fast Six’ session, pipping the Australian to top spot by a scant three-hundredths of a second around the twisting two-mile street circuit.
Power – who had held provisional pole by three-tenths of a second with a seemingly unbeatable lap time – had one final opportunity to knock Dixon from top spot, only to fluff his final flying lap when he outbraked himself at the Turn 3 hairpin.
That Dixon even made it into the ‘Fast Six’ phase of qualifying was itself a talking point during Saturday’s action-packed qualifying session. The Chip Ganassi driver was classified seventh-fastest in the second phase of qualifying, but was promoted to the top-six after Graham Rahal was docked his fastest lap times for triggering a red flag when he slid into the tyres at Turn 8 late in the session.
Officials had tried to manage Rahal’s crash with a local yellow flag, only for a full stoppage to be enforced when Tristan Vautier slid into the back of Rahal’s car.
Vautier – who had also qualified fast enough for the ‘Fast Six’ – somehow escaped punishment, and managed to participate in the final session with minor battle scars on his SPH Honda entry. He qualified slowest of the six runners, with his third-placed teammate Simon Pagenaud sandwiching Justin Wilson and Josef Newgarden, with the latter having his most competitive qualifying performance of the season.
Dixon’s performance was all the more important because both of his main championship rivals – series leader Helio Castroneves and Ryan Hunter-Reay – qualified further down the order and will share the fourth row of the grid for Sunday’s 75-lap race.
Several of the weekend’s more-fancied runners had difficulties in qualifying, with a number of drivers coming to grief after hopping the kerbs through the final chicane complex that leads onto the start/finish straight.
Andretti Autosport teammates James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti had both suffered damage to their cars after biffing the outside wall in the day’s earlier practice session, and only managed to qualify eleventh and eighteenth, respectively.
A big loser in qualifying at the same complex was Sebastien Bourdais, who got it badly wrong through the chicane, launching his Dragon Racing entry into the outside wall and littering the straight with debris from his damaged car.
2013 IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Baltimore – Qualifying Results:
|‘Fast 6’ Qualifiers||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||1:18.0838|
|2.||Will Power||Team Penske – Chevrolet||+ 0.0333|
|3.||Simon Pagenaud||SPH – Honda||+ 0.3469|
|4.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||+ 0.7860|
|5.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda||+ 0.8184|
|6.||Tristan Vautier||SPH – Honda||+ 0.9542|
|‘Round 2’ Qualifiers||Entry / Team||Result|
|7.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske – Chevrolet||1:19.0288|
|8.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||1:19.0367|
|9.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||1:19.0523|
|10.||Takuma Sato||AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda||1:19.2216|
|11.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||1:19.3182|
|12.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||1:22.2045|
|‘Group’ Qualifiers||Entry / Team||Result|
|13.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||1:18.6398||G1|
|14.||Luca Filippi||Barracuda Racing – Honda||1:19.1242||G2|
|15.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||1:18.6694||G1|
|16.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||1:19.3051||G2|
|17.||Oriol Servia||Panther Racing – Chevrolet||1:18.8075||G1|
|18.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||1:19.4738||G2|
|19.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||1:18.9829||G1|
|20.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet||1:20.5694||G2|
|21.||Sebastián Saavedra||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||1:19.2440||G1|
|22.||E.J. Viso||Team Venzuela – Chevrolet||no time||G2|
|23.||Stefan Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||1:20.1871||G1|
|24.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||no time||G2|