The field is set and now the countdown is on for the 2017 Indianapolis 500.
After two days' worth of qualifying, Scott Dixon put together four brilliant laps with an average speed of 232.164 miles per hour earned him the pole position in the race. Dixon, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 champion, easily exceeded the first six drivers in the Fast Nine to earn his position and neither Takuma Sato nor Ed Carpenter was able to exceed that speed in the final two qualification runs.
The Indianapolis 500 will be contested Sunday, with the race starting shortly after noon.
"I was a little shocked myself when I saw that first lap speed," Dixon said when interviewed by Dr. Jerry Punch on ABC after his four-lap qualifying effort. "Our whole nine-man team at Ganassi Racing did a fantastic job and it's extremely emotional."
Dixon's speed was the fasted in qualifying since Arie Luyendyk reached 236.986 in 1996.
Many of the drivers were having trouble with Turn 2 at the famous track, but Dixon handled it smoothly and without incident. While many of the other drivers seemed to come within inches of the wall, Dixon had no such issues.
Carpenter ran a strong first lap in qualifying and looked like he might challenge Dixon, but he was unable to exceed 232 miles per hour on the ensuing three laps.
While drivers can win the race while starting from anywhere in the 33-car field, Dixon said it was important for him to win the pole.
"Winning the pole is a whole event in itself and I am thrilled," Dixon continued. "When we won the race in 2008, we did it from the pole position. Hopefully that can happen again.
Carpenter finished in the No. 2 position and he was happy with his speed of 231.664 mph, and he told Punch that he was happy with that effort even though he did not get the pole.
"I heard the crowd when Scott was running, and when I saw his time, I knew it would be tough to beat," Carpenter said. "I am happy with where we are, and if somebody told me we would have reached that speed, I would have been satisfied."
American Alexander Rossi is on the outside of the front row with a qualifying speed of 231.487, and the reigning champion looked like he had an excellent chance of winning the pole until Dixon took his run.
Rossi said, per David Malsher of MotorSport.com:
"It was hard, a lot harder than yesterday. Track temps were up, same for everyone. It was an OK run, Lap 2 wasn't great, could've been better.
"Turn 2 is not hard, but it's easy to make a mistake, because of the tail wind from [Turn] 1 to 2, so the front end can take off easily. The actual fear is [Turn] 3 and 4, because the wind is the other way and on the nose."
Here's a look at how the rest of the Fast Nine finished.
- 4. Takuma Sato, 231.365
- 5. Fernando Alonso (rookie), 231.300
- 6. JR Hildebrand, 230.889
- 7. Tony Kanaan, 230.828
- 8. Marco Andretti, 230.474
- 9. Will Power, 230.200.
The Fast Nine was the second of two qualifying sessions on Sunday and consisted of the nine best from Saturday's qualifying.
Those in spots 10 through 33 qualified earlier in the day Sunday. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Jones, Oriol Servia were the three fastest among the non-Fast Nine qualifiers and they make up the fourth row.
Here's a look at the remaining rows of the competition.
Row 5: Mikhail Aleshin, Graham Rahal, Max Chilton
Row 6: Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Juan Pablo Montoya
Row 7: Helio Castroneves, Jay Howard, Sage Karam
Row 8: Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Carlos Munoz
Row 9: Gabby Chaves, Conor Daly, Jack Harvey
Row 10: Pippa Mann, Spencer Pigot, Buddy Lazier
Row 11: Sebastian Saavedra, Zach Veach, James Davison
There were no incidents Sunday like the Sebastien Bourdais crash that took place the day before. That accident was quite shocking and left Bourdais with multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fractured hip, but he was awake and alert at the hospital.
He had surgery Saturday night after crashing violently into Turn 2.
"Sebastien is in good hands here at IU Methodist Hospital with the staff and now we just wait for him to recover," team owner Dale Coyne said in a news release (h/t Brody Miller of USA Today).