LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 1, 2015) – Scott Dixon shattered a 16-year-old track record on the way to earning the Verizon P1 Award for Sunday’s 90-lap Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. This marks the fourth track record that has been broken during the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, which in addition to Mid-Ohio includes events at St. Petersburg, Long Beach and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Dixon, who won at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2014 after starting at the rear of the 22-car grid, recorded a best lap of 1 minute, 4.5814 seconds (125.869 mph) during the Firestone Fast Six session. The pole was Dixon’s second of the Verizon IndyCar Series season and the 23rd of his Indy car career – which ties him with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford for 12th all time.
A total of 11 drivers posted laps faster than the previous track record (1:05.347) set by Dario Franchitti in 1999 and matched by Gil de Ferran in 2000. But no one could catch Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
“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 on Mid-Ohio’s 2.258-mile permanent road course.
The green flag for Round 14 of 16 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season will be broadcast live on CNBC, with coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Reigning series champion Will Power, driving the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, will join Dixon on the front row after posting a best lap of 1:04.6782.
Sebastien Bourdais, the pole sitter for the 2014 race at Mid-Ohio, and Helio Castroneves will be on Row 2. Josef Newgarden, a two-time winner this season, and Charlie Kimball, who won at Mid-Ohio in 2013, will share Row 3.
Verizon IndyCar Series championship points leader Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske will start 10th in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Chevrolet. Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio, who is 42 points behind Montoya in second place, will start 13th in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO QUALIFYING QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “(Scott) Dixon’s really good around here, but it would be nice to have a win. If everything falls our way, we can definitely win. No question we need to for the championship. That’s our goal.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Chevrolet): “To be honest with you, it’s taken a lot of hard work by everyone on the Verizon Chevy team to get to where we are. 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. We were seventh in the morning session and qualified 10th. I just had a too much understeer in the first round and we didn’t adjust enough in the second round.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “As you have seen over the weekend, we were never able to get a clear lap, which actually was good. It kind of held us a little bit back, but in the end of the day it was a great effort from my engineer, Jonathan Diuguid. He was on it and cool and relaxed. When you have the people around you with that kind of coolness, it just makes you better. For me, it was perfect to put down good two laps there. It was tough, very tough, but we’re going to get ready for tomorrow and have a good result. I have no doubt it’s going to be another tough race, not only mentally but especially physically because we’re going pretty fast out there.”
STEFANO COLETTI (No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “I am disappointed about qualifying today. I had a good car and we had the possibility to advance to the next round. Unfortunately I made a mistake on the final lap, which would have put me P4 in the group. I have to thank my crew and Chevy for giving me a good car and will now focus on the race tomorrow and see what we can do.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda): “This was the first time I ran the reds (alternate tires) this year and I don’t think we were expecting a balance shift. I just picked up a ton of understeer in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car and I think we were probably a bit over-pressured on the tires. Once I started hurting the front tires, they just dropped off big time. That just really hurt us. With it being so competitive out there, I just wasn’t able to make the lap time that we needed to advance.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It was a disappointing qualifying session. The No. 7 MediaTech Oculus car was good and I think we would’ve easily made it into the next group. We kind of got hosed by the checkered flag because we just needed that extra lap. It’s disappointing because we’ve shown good pace all weekend and we’ve been putting it together nicely. We just didn’t execute but we’ll move on and hopefully have a good race tomorrow.”
SAGE KARAM (No. 8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chevrolet): “It wasn’t the way we wanted qualifying to go for the No. 8 team. It was a tough session and the COMFORT REVOLUTION/Big Machine Records car was fast overall. I got blocked a few times and tried to recover to get a good lap in to advance, but I went off in the end and couldn’t put it together unfortunately.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “The Target car at this track has obviously had a strong run here; I think 10 wins with Mr. Chip Ganassi and five with myself driving the (No.) 9. It’s a combination, but even on that lap I messed up in (Turn) 12 and again in (Turn) 2, so there’s definitely a bit of speed. We waved off the last lap as well. Obviously Will (Power) came pretty close, so luckily we had a buffer there. We’re starting in the right position, but as we saw last year anything can happen. We started 22nd and won from there with obviously a pretty big break in strategy. I’ve got to thank my teammates, obviously Team Target has done a hell of a job all weekend, the car rolled off fantastically. It’s always great to be here at Mid-Ohio with so many fans. Turns 4 and 5 have been packed over there already, which is fantastic to see.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “I think we had a really fast car today for qualifying – we just weren’t able to make it into the top six. The competition was so tight and everyone was putting up such close lap times that even a little bit of understeer was enough to keep us out of the final round of quals. We’ll just have to make sure we have the right strategy in place and hope we can move up through the field early.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “A good day for the Hydroxycut team, but not good enough to get Dixie (Scott Dixon) and Will (Power). I was a little surprised at the gap. I don’t understand how they can pull stronger laps in the Firestone Fast Six, but it is what it is. We just have to keep digging. I think we made a huge improvement on the Firestone red (alternate) tires, which is very satisfying. If you are going to have a good race at Mid-Ohio you are going to have to be strong on the reds. Starting third we are in the running to win tomorrow. Chevy has given us reliable power and if things pan out right, the car is very strong on the black (primary) tires, so we can make it happen.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda): “Sage (Karam) cost us that lap which would have been second or third quickest and we would have advanced to Round 2. The Steak ‘n Shake car was really good, we got it fixed for qualifying. I caught him and it absolutely just killed the entire momentum and I lost the entire lap. It’s just a shame, this is a huge, huge race for us and we’re going to start 13th. We’ve got to win this. I’m not saying it can’t be done from there, but I definitely think we had a car good enough to be in the top six. With everybody that we are competing against, it’s a shame when back markers like that get in the way of the championship. I’m pretty frustrated. Obviously this is a home crowd, home race and we want to get a win for Steak ‘n Shake and Honda. We’ve got some work to do tomorrow.”
RODOLFO GONZALEZ (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “Qualifying was better because the car has improved even more than in Practice 3. I also feel that I’m improving with each lap. The last time I drove was in Toronto and I’m getting used to racing again. The nice thing is that I feel pretty comfortable on these road courses because it is what I’m used to. I’ve been able to get up to speed a little faster here than on those bumpy street courses. Having said all that, getting into a car after a month and a half still forces you to knock off the rust and get up to speed quickly.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “I’m disappointed in the qualifying result. We have great balance in the car and I guess we just can’t find enough grip. I came around to the line and thought I had a really good lap and it wasn’t fast enough. The guys are working really hard, but we just haven’t found the perfect setup yet. We will try to figure out some changes tonight and hope we have a better race tomorrow.”
LUCA FILIPPI (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “We knew qualifying was going to be very, very close. It was very important to do everything correctly, which we did in Round 1. In the very last lap of the top 12, I was on a lap that could have been good enough for the Firestone Fast 6, but I made a small mistake. In this very tight field, that mistake ended up costing us the opportunity to advance. We were fast and it’s good to have both cars in the top 10. We have a lot of potential for tomorrow.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s been a rough day for PPG Automotive Refinish Chevy. Now it’s all back to normal. We had some technical issues yesterday and especially today in practice as we didn’t run any laps because of that. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of valuable track time. But quite frankly I am satisfied with my performance in qualifying, but I just needed a little more time to find the limit of the new aero kits. That’s what cost us today. We are starting P15 which is interesting because there’s a lot of strategy that we could do and maybe our luck could around come tomorrow’s race.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It’s been an interesting day. We definitely found some performance from yesterday and picked things up. In qualifying I was really happy with the car. We just missed it by a couple thousandths of a second advancing through. The last couple of corners, the car in front threw a load of dirt across the racetrack so we lost a tenth (of a second) there. But it’s just how it goes sometimes – it goes in your favor and sometimes it goes against you. I’m pleased with the car. I think we have a good race car for tomorrow so we’ll see what happens.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda): “A really frustrating day, really hard day for us; we don’t feel comfortable. We’re starting in the back tomorrow (23rd) and this track is really hard to pass on, but luckily this is INDYCAR and really anything can happen. We have to work a lot overnight, but for sure (today was) one of the toughest days I’ve ever had in my Verizon IndyCar Series career, but we have to learn from this.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “We’re starting mid-pack which is a disappointment for sure. We didn’t come here to qualify 12th so we’re bummed about that. It’s the worst we’ve been all weekend, too, which compounds the pain right now. It’s a long race and attrition is going to play a part. We just have to stay out of trouble and find some clear track, and really, really turn up so we can find some track position.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I thought we had a shot (at transferring into the Firestone Fast Six), especially with the lap we put together at the end – that was everything the car had. I couldn’t believe we pulled that much time out of (the car). We missed the Fast Six by a few thousandths of a second, which is really tight. We knew it was going to be close. … But I’m having a blast anytime I’m at this track. We put a good car together every time we come here so we’ll keep our heads down and hopefully have a great day tomorrow. We’re coming off a win at Iowa so hopefully we can end this season on a high for DHL, Honda and AutoNation.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “It was pretty decent all the way through, but probably just a little bit too much understeer at the end. We had a pretty good day and are starting kind of middle of the pack, but hopefully we’ll have a good start tomorrow and see how the race goes. I’m pretty happy and the guys have done a good job, so hopefully the ABC car will go to the front tomorrow. We’ve got a little bit of work to do on the car to get some of the understeer out in some of these medium-speed corners. If we can do that, we can have a good race. We seem to be stronger on the blacks (primary tires) than we were on the reds (alternate tires), so hopefully we can take advantage of that.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet): “We might not have had the ultimate speed. I definitely didn’t have Dixie’s (Scott Dixon’s) speed. I think we were probably a little better, maybe third would have been possible with a couple more tenths, but I didn’t get it out of the car when I needed to. But Dixon’s lap was out of reach for us. I think we’re there, we’re in that top group with these guys, but we’re just not at the top spot of it. We make sure to execute really well every weekend and we find ourselves in the top five, top six, and then we do a good job on race day generally.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLeg FlexPen Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “The progress has been really good. We were fairly quick this morning in final practice and the Novo Nordisk team has worked really hard. Obviously having the data from Scott (Dixon) to look at and learn from, because he is pretty special around here consistently, has helped. We’ve learned from that. It’s nice to see a couple Ganassi cars in the top six.”
GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda): “During yesterday’s practice, everything seemed to be going well and we were confident we could find the speed we needed for the No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins car to be up there in the Fast Six. Now today, we have just been struggling a lot, in the morning session and now in qualifying even worse. It is very unfortunate because we really thought we had a good direction going and now we need to try to figure out how we can make it better and work from there for the race.”