IndyCar: Scott Dixon smashes lap record en route to Mid-Ohio pole

IndyCar: Scott Dixon smashes lap record en route to Mid-Ohio pole

Published Aug. 1, 2015 4:37 p.m. ET

STEAM CORNERS, Ohio – Kevin Savoree and Kim Green should just sign over the Deed of Ownership to three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon because the five-time track winner pretty much owns the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Dixon, winner of five of the eight Verizon IndyCar Series races held at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course, obliterated the previous track record with a fast time of 1:04.5814 for a speed of 125.869 miles per hour to win Saturday’s pole for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

It was Dixon’s 23rd career pole, tying him with Johnny Rutherford for 12th on the all-time standings.

“The car feels good; we rolled off fairly good and made a pretty good change in the second session yesterday,” Dixon explained. “In qualifying we set a pace we needed to set. We had quick laps in sessions one and two. The car has some good speed in it and hopefully we can stay in this position. It’s our best chance for the championship.”


All six drivers in the Firestone Fast Six broke the previous track record of 1:05.347 (124.394 mph) set in the 1,000 horsepower days of CART by Dario Franchitti and also by Gil de Ferran.

“The tires, downforce and power are part of it,” Dixon said. “I remember it was fun to drive back then but on the straight-line speed we were a lot faster on the straights. It’s a different way of doing it but the aero kits and Chevrolet have done an amazing job this year to help that cause.”

Helio Castroneves also competed at Mid-Ohio in the high horsepower days and compared the difference from then to now.

“Straight-line speed is not the same as it used to be in the past but the cornering speed is incredible,” Castroneves said. “With the aero kits and the way we are able to go into the corners, we are going much faster in the corners. This track is always changing and when you have the circumstances like this we keep getting faster and faster. Where is the limit?

“It’s also tricky as well. To get it put all together is very difficult.”

Dixon, the defending winner of this event, is third in Verizon IndyCar Series points, 48 behind the leader, Juan Pablo Montoya, who starts 10th in a Chevrolet.

“I’m much happier starting on the pole than I did last year,” Dixon said. “The team has been strong here with 10 victories here and me having seven. Teams have those tracks where they are strong. It’s a track that feels natural for me and with the results we have in the past it flows better with the information.

“Sunday is important but the season hasn’t come down to this race and this race counts for everything. It’s going to play out as it is.”

Team Penske driver and defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power was second at 1:04.6782 (125.681 mph). Sebastian Bourdais was third at 1:04.9965 (125.065 mph) followed by Helio Castroneves at 1:05.0625 (124.938 mph), Josef Newgarden at 1:05.0728 (124.919 mph) and Charlie Kimball at 1:05.0784 (124.908 mph).

“It’s going to be tough not only mentally but physically because we go pretty fast out there,” Castroneves said.

The top six drivers were in Chevrolets. Ryan Hunter-Reay was the highest finishing Honda qualifier at 1:05.0455 and will start seventh.

Graham Rahal, who is second in the standing 42 behind Montoya, didn’t advance out of the first round and will start 13th. He believed Sage Karam got in his way on his fast lap.

How to catch Dixon at Mid-Ohio is a question that several drivers try to find the answer to.

“Part of it is how smooth Scott Dixon is here,” said Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kimball. “He manages to stay close to that edge and be consistent the whole way through.”

Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Power believes his best chance to repeat is to beat the four drivers ahead of him in the standings for the final three races.

“Dixon is really good around here, he knows how to win,” Power said. “If everything falls our way we can win but we definitely need to to get back into this championship battle.

“Tomorrow is a critical point in the championship. Every race is super important but tomorrow is really important.”

Bourdais won the pole last year when Dixon spun out in a qualification session that was held in the rain. He was the first driver to break the track record on Saturday.

“We are working hard and it’s paying off,” Bourdais said. “Hopefully it will pay off on Sunday. We knew with the downforce the car would really be fast this year. It was a lot of fun in qualifications today. You never know how it will go but with the balance of the cars it is handling a lot better. Back in those days they had to be centric with rear grip and traction. Now, the cars carry a lot of speeds through the corners. It’s a lot of fun but different driving.”


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