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Dixon Fastest, Power Drops To Last Chance in Qualifying Drama

Chip Ganassi Racing flexed its muscle Saturday during Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying for the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, as Scott Dixon led all four of the team’s cars into the Firestone Fast Nine Shootout with the fastest overall qualifying run.

Six-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Dixon was the first driver on track when qualifying started at noon (ET) after his team earned the first spot in the qualifying draw Friday night, and he delivered in the best track and air conditions of the five-hour, 50-minute session. Dixon produced a four-lap average speed of 231.828 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda, and his car number stayed atop the iconic Scoring Pylon for the rest of the day despite 58 attempts to topple it.

2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Dixon will make the last attempt in the Firestone Fast Nine Shootout, which determines the NTT P1 Award winner for pole and the starting order for the first three rows, as the nine fastest cars from today start in inverse order in the one-shot format. The Shootout takes place from 3-3:45 p.m. on the 2.5-mile oval and will be televised live on NBC.

Dixon will be the favorite to earn his fourth Indy 500 pole, but the powerful Ganassi team will have four chances to take the coveted top spot. CGR drivers Tony Kanaan (third, 231.639, No. 48 The American Legion Honda), Alex Palou (seventh, 231.145, No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) and Marcus Ericsson (ninth, 231.104, No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) also made the Shootout.

But Ganassi’s day lost some of its sparkle at 3:35 p.m., when Palou crashed in Turn 2 while making his second qualifying attempt. Palou didn’t withdraw his first run, preserving his No. 7 spot in the Shootout, but still was trying to improve his position when the rear of his car got loose and made heavy right-side contact with the SAFER Barrier, inflicting significant damage.

Palou climbed from his car without injury, but the Ganassi team will face a long night repairing the car for the Shootout on Sunday.

Other drivers participating in the Shootout are Colton Herta (second, 231.648, No. 26 Gainbridge Honda), Ed Carpenter (fourth, 231.616, No. 20 SONAX Chevrolet), Rinus VeeKay (fifth, 231.483, No. 21 Bitcoin Chevrolet), three-time “500” winner Helio Castroneves (sixth, 231.164, No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda) and 2014 Indy winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (ninth, 231.139, No. 28 DHL Honda).

There also was plenty of drama on the other end of the grid, including a stunning participant in Last Chance Qualifying Sunday.

2018 Indy 500 Will Power will be one of the five cars trying to take one of the three last-row spots during Last Chance Qualifying, which takes place from 1:15-2:30 p.m. Power, winner of 62 poles in his INDYCAR SERIES career, failed to record a speed in the top 30 in two attempts in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet.

Power’s first run, at 1:21 p.m., averaged 229.052 and wasn't fast enough. But he withdrew that attempt to make his second attempt from the fast lane, ensuring he would get another shot. That run, at 5:33 p.m., 17 minutes before the end of qualifying, averaged 229.228 and also was too slow to make the top 30.

Joining Power in the Last Chance Qualifying will be Sage Karam (No. 24 DRR-AES INDIANA Chevrolet), Charlie Kimball (No. 11 Tresiba/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet), Simona De Silvestro (No. 16 Rocket Pro TPO/Paretta Autosport Chevrolet) and RC Enerson (No. 75 Top Gun Racing Chevrolet).

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