Dixon Wins PEAK Motor Oil Pole For 92nd Indy 500

Saturday, May 10, 2008

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Target Chip Ganassi Racing principals considered the track conditions, the competition and what alterations could be made to catapult the No. 9 car from the middle of Row 2 to the pole position for the 92nd Indianapolis 500. They didn't have to solicit Scott Dixon's opinion.

Dixon's initial aggregate time was withdrawn, and he re-entered the qualification line at 3:39 p.m. as the large crowd roared its approval. 2007 500-Mile Race runner-up Dixon posted an aggregate four-lap time of 2 minutes, 39.0348 seconds (226.366 mph average) and then waited for all comers to knock him off the perch. No one came close.

After a spirited competition to fill the top 11 spots for the May 25 race, Dixon held the $100,000 check aloft as the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone winner. Thirty-one qualifying attempts were recorded (23 completed) on a pleasant spring afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Second Day Qualifying (to fill spots 12-22 on the grid) is scheduled for noon-6 p.m. Sunday, May 11.

"It means a lot," said Dixon, who secured his 11th IndyCar Series pole start and third this season. "It's not just for me, though. It's the hard work that goes into it. All the time that they put in back at the workshop and the guys that a lot of time you don't even see at the track, it's a lot of effort. And from me a lot of thanks goes to them.

"I think amongst the drivers it means a lot. If you talk to any of the drivers out there, they know how on the limit you are, and for a general person I don't think that they realize that stuff. It's definitely right at the top of accomplishments that I've done."

Teammate Dan Wheldon, the 2005 Indy 500 winner, and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe will share the front row with Dixon, who has qualified either first or second on the four ovals in the early section of the IndyCar Series season.

"It's a real tribute to the team," said team owner Chip Ganassi, who celebrated his third pole start at Indianapolis (Bruno Junqueira in 2002 and Arie Luyendyk in 1993). "Every team works hard in the offseason to get better, and you're charged with making your team better than the other guys who make their team better. This is the payoff."

Both Briscoe and Wheldon had their initial times withdrawn for a run at the big check. Briscoe occupied the middle of Row 2 before jumping to the provisional pole with a four-lap time of 2:39.2358 (226.080) - five minutes before Dixon rolled onto the track.

"I turned around, and Dixon was taking (the pole) away from me," said Briscoe, who finished fifth last year with Luczo Dragon Racing. "Aside from that, I thought I had a really good run."

Wheldon, driving the No. 10 Honda-powered Dallara, improved from third to second (2:39.2143; 226.110).

"We have been close to pole in the past at Indianapolis, leading into Pole Day, but when it has become Pole Day we have not been so competitive," Wheldon said. "It is good to show we are competitive," Wheldon said.

Two-time 500-Mile Race winner Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick and Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan will be on Row 2. AGR teammates Marco Andretti and Hideki Mutoh will occupy the third row with Panther Racing's Vitor Meira. Mutoh (ninth) is the highest qualifying rookie, while Castroneves extended his streak of consecutive top-five starts in the '500' to four on his 33rd birthday.

For the second year in a row, all four Andretti Green Racing cars qualified on the first day.

"I wish that we could have found some more speed, but unfortunately we didn't," said Patrick, who had a four-lap average speed of 225.197 mph. "Believe me, it was not from a lack of trying. My crew did a great job getting me a car that was capable of staying up front with the guys that had the fastest cars of the day. It was a great day for Andretti Green Racing, because we got all four cars in."

Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter was 10th and Tomas Scheckter in the No. 12 Luczo Dragon Racing car filled the final available spot. Scheckter withdrew his time (223.779 mph) late in the six-hour session when he was on the bubble, but couldn't move up on the second attempt (223.496).

Graham Rahal (2:41.0767; 223.355) in the No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing car was the final driver bumped, by Scheckter, and will have to make another attempt during Second Day Qualifying to crack positions 12-22.

Ryan Hunter-Reay's No. 17 Ethanol car made contact with the Turn 3 SAFER Barrier during his second qualification attempt. He was checked and cleared to drive.

"I was just trying to make a car that wasn't there go fast," he said. "The exits had no grip, and the entrances had too much grip. I was just hustling something that wasn't there."

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Indy 500 tickets on sale: Tickets are on sale for the 2008 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25, the 92nd running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) Monday-Sunday during May, with special hours of 6 a.m.-1 p.m. on Race Day, Sunday, May 25. Online orders can be made at any time.

Race Day ticket prices start at just $20.