Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon smashed a 15-year-old lap record to claim pole position for Sunday’s 90-lap Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. It was the New Zealander’s 23rd IndyCar pole position, tying him with Jim Rutherford in twelfth place on the all-time pole-winner’s list.

The former IndyCar champion posted a 1:04.581 in the final 10-minute ‘Fast Six’ shootout for pole, breaking the previous lap record jointly held by former teammates Dario Franchitti and Gil de Ferran. It is the fourth time this year that a qualifying lap record has been broken on a road or street circuit, underlining the added downforce and improved handling that the latest generation of aero kits have created.

The result will give Dixon a much easier task in his quest to defend his Mid-Ohio win from last year, which he achieved from the back of the grid.

“It’s great that the Target car has a lot of speed, but as you saw last year with us winning from the last row that anything can happen,” said Dixon, who has won five of the past eight Verizon IndyCar Series races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and sits third in the championship standings.

“We can’t really race for the championship right now. We have to race for wins.  It is hard with that mind-set when you get close. There are 200-and-something points on the table. We’ve been strong all year, but we haven’t got the results that we wanted. We’ll see what we can do.”

Four different teams were represented in the Firestone Fast Six, and almost half of the 24-car field recorded lap times quicker than the old lap record.

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power will join Dixon on the front row, after posting a lap just nine-hundredths off the pole-winning pace.

Sébastien Bourdais, the pole sitter for last season’s race at Mid-Ohio, and Hélio Castroneves will be on the second row of the grid. Josef Newgarden, a two-time winner this season, and Charlie Kimball, who won at Mid-Ohio in 2013, will occupy the third row.

The fourth row will be taken up by last round’s Iowa Corn 300 winner for Andretti Autosports, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan.

CFH Racing’s Luca Filippi will start ninth; a place ahead of Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya (Team Penske) who will start tenth after suffering a number of problems in the earlier practice sessions.

“To be honest, it’s taken a lot of hard work by everyone on the team to get to where we are,” Montoya said. “We had a problem with the engine yesterday and lost almost an entire practice session. Since then we have just been behind. We’ve been trying to catch up and we improved a lot this morning. I just had a too much understeer in the first round and we didn’t adjust enough in the second round.”

Ohio native Graham Rahal, who is 42 points behind the Colombian in second place, will start thirteenth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

“This going to hurt; we have a lot of work to do tomorrow,” said Rahal, who has finished first, third and fourth in the past three races to push his way into contention in his quest to claim his first IndyCar Series Championship title.

Sunday’s 90-lap race gets underway at 2:07pm local time (GMT-4).

2015 IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Qualifying Results
Grid ‘Fast Six’ Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap
1. Scott Dixon nz Chip Ganassi Racing 1:04.5814
2. Will Power au Team Penske 1:04.6782 + 0.0968
3. Sébastien Bourdais fr KV Racing Technology 1:04.9965 + 0.4151
4. Hélio Castroneves br Team Penske 1:05.0625 + 0.4811
5. Josef Newgarden us CFH Racing 1:05.0728 + 0.4914
6. Charlie Kimball us Chip Ganassi Racing 1:05.0784 + 0.4970
Grid ‘Top 12’ Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap*
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay us Andretti Autosport 1:05.0455 + 0.2818
8. Tony Kanaan br Chip Ganassi Racing 1:05.0647 + 0.3010
9. Luca Filippi it CFH Racing 1:05.1616 + 0.3979
10. Juan Pablo Montoya co Team Penske 1:05.2081 + 0.4444
11. Jack Hawksworth uk A.J. Foyt Racing 1:05.2291 + 0.4654
12. Marco Andretti us Andretti Autosport 1:05.3931 + 0.6294
Grid ‘Group 1’ Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap***
13. Graham Rahal us Rahal Letterman Lanigan 1:05.9650 + 0.6273
15. Simon Pagenaud fr Team Penske 1:05.9877 + 0.6500
17. James Jakes uk Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 1:06.0671 + 0.7294
19. Sage Karam us Chip Ganassi Racing 1:06.0688 + 0.7311
21. Gabby Chaves co Bryan Herta Autosport 1:06.2195 + 0.8818
23. Carlos Muñoz co Andretti Autosport 1:06.9891 + 1.6514
Grid ‘Group 2’ Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap**
14. Justin Wilson uk Andretti Autosport 1:05.5886 + 0.6936
16. Takuma Sato jp A.J. Foyt Racing 1:05.5933 + 0.6983
18. Stefano Coletti mc KV Racing Technology 1:05.6204 + 0.7254
20. Ryan Briscoe au Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 1:05.7503 + 0.8103
22. Rodolfo González ve Dale Coyne Racing 1:05.9698 + 1.0748
24. Tristan Vautier fr Dale Coyne Racing 1:06.0814 + 1.1864

* Denotes gap to fastest ‘Top 12’ qualifying session time of 1:04.7637 posted by Charlie Kimball. Fastest six qualifiers progress to the ‘Fast Six’ shootout for pole position.
** Denotes gap to fastest ‘Group 2’ qualifying session time of 1:04.8950 posted by Scott Dixon. Fastest six qualifiers progress to ‘Top 12’ stage, with the remaining drivers occupying the odd-numbered grid positions 14, 16, 18, etc.
*** Denotes gap to fastest ‘Group 1’ qualifying session time of 1:05.3377 posted by Sebastien Bourdais. Fastest six qualifiers progress to ‘Top 12’ stage, with the remaining drivers occupying the even-numbered grid positions 13, 15, 17, etc.

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8