Dixon Nips Power for Pole Position at Belle Isle
Dixon recorded a lap of 1 minute, 10.3162 seconds -- a qualifying record for the 2.07-mile, 14-turn street circuit layout -- in the final 30 seconds of the Firestone Fast Six shootout to earn the pole award for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on June 3.
He beat Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, by 0.0044 of a second.
"That's all it takes," said Dixon, who recorded his 18th career pole (he has at least one in six consecutive seasons) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. "It was a team effort; we really struggled off the truck (in practice June 1). It's such a tough track, physically demanding and a tough place to pass."
Power, making his third front-row start in six IZOD IndyCar Series races, and Dixon traded the top spot twice in the final 1:30. Power had a best lap of 1:10.3206.
Alex Tagliani, making his first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six since Sonoma in 2010, provided Team Barracuda-BHA its best start of the season and will share Row 2 with Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports, who tied his season high. E.J. Viso, who last participated in the Firestone Fast Six in 2011 at Edmonton, will be on Row 3 in the No. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV Racing Technology car with Ryan Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car for Andretti Autosport.
James Hinchcliffe, who qualified for the Firestone Fast Six in the previous four street/road course events, qualified 14th after the left-rear tire of the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car tagged the concrete barrier in Turn 14 in Round 1. Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti qualified 15th.
Also on June 2, Gustavo Yacaman overtook pole sitter Oliver Webb for the lead in Turn 8 on Lap 26 and went on to record his second Firestone Indy Lights victory.
Carlos Munoz, runner-up in the Firestone Freedom 100 in the No. 26 Team Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport, closed on Yacaman in the final lap to finish 0.1638 of a second behind. It was the second-closest road/street course finish in the series.
The race, scheduled for 45 laps, was switched to a timed event because of extended barrier repair from a Lap 14 incident involving the No. 15 Younessi Racing car driven by Peter Dempsey. Forty laps were completed. Dempsey was checked and cleared to drive.
Webb finished third in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car to match his best in Firestone Indy Lights, and teammate Victor Carbone was fourth in the No. 3 Mav TV/Nevoni/SSM with Curb-Agajanian car. Tristan Vautier, driving the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM with Curb-Agajanian car, was fifth.
Sebastian Saavedra, driving the No. 27 Team AFS car, and the No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/SSM with Curb-Agajanian car driven by Esteban Guerrieri made contact on the final lap and Race Control altered the finishing order to place Saavedra in sixth and Guerrieri in seventh.
Guerrieri, the Firestone Freedom 100 winner, retained the top spot in the series championship standings by 15 points over Vautier (188), who was docked five championship points by the Firestone Indy Lights Race Director for failure to follow rules as instructed in the race day drivers meeting at Indianapolis. Saavedra is one point behind in third.
"I feel happy for the Target boys, it's a good comeback from last weekend. Nice to be back on pole, it's where we were in 2008, here on Belle Isle. This has really been a team effort, we struggled coming off the truck yesterday and we worked hard to get up to P1. I am really happy about starting up front this is such a tough track and physically demanding on the drivers. The Honda engine was great today as it was at Indianapolis. The one-two finish at Indy was great for Honda and it was a good bounce back for them. The track is bumpy here and the best place to pass is on the straights, that is about the only place to pass so that makes it hard to pass and staring up front is very important. Today feels pretty nice but tomorrow is the day that counts for us and the Target boys."
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