The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

IndyCar - Dixon Nips Power For Pole At Belle Isle

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

DETROIT, June 2, 2012: Scott Dixon has back-to-back pole starts at Belle Isle. They've just been separated by four years.

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 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.


Mark Reuss, the president of Generals Motors,North America, will serve as the pace car driver for the IZOD IndyCar Series' Chevrolet Indy Grand Prix presented by on Sunday.

Ruess, who is responsible for GM's performance, manufacturing, portfolio and dealer network in the United States, Canada and Mexico and a licensed driver in Grand Am, will lead the IZOD IndyCar Series field in a 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible - the fastest and most-capable convertible in Corvette's history.

Chevrolet also will provide a fleet of safety cars and parade vehicles at Texas, Iowa, Baltimore and Fontana.


Dario Franchitti will return to New York on June 4 to complete the Indianapolis 500 Victory Tour with an appearance on "Late Night with David Letterman" on CBS. Check local listings for time.

The segment should be interesting considering that Franchitti briefly dueled Takuma Sato for the lead on the final lap of the May 27 race. Letterman is a co-owner of Sato's car.

Sato was on the bottom of the track entering Turn 1 when his No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car made light contact with Franchitti's No. 50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing's car, sending Sato's car into the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier. The yellow flag flew and Franchitti crossed the start/finish line under caution for his third Indy 500 victory.

At Belle Isle on June 1, stitched into Sato's cap was "No Attack No Chance."

Franchitti earned $2.47 million for the victory.


IZOD IndyCar Series Pole Qualifying consists of three segments. In Segment One of qualifying, each group receives 15 minutes of track time. The fastest six cars from each group advance to Segment Two, while the remaining cars are assigned positions 13-26. Group One drivers will occupy the odd-numbered positions (13, 15, 17...) while Group Two drivers will occupy the even-numbered positions (14, 16, 18...) based on their fastest lap times.

During Segment Two, the 12 advancing cars receive 10 minutes of track time. The fastest six advance to the Firestone Fast Six Shootout while the remaining six cars are ranked in positions 7-12 based on their fastest laps.

During the Firestone Fast Six, the six cars receive 10 minutes of track time, with a guarantee of five minutes of green flag time. Each car receives one additional set of Firestone Firehawk tires for use during this final segment. At the end of the session, the cars are ranked 1-6 based on their fastest laps.

Any driver who causes a red flag during any of the groups will lose their two quickest laps.

The time line for qualifying today is at the exit of Turn 14.

At 11:30 a.m., the ambient temperature was 60 degrees with a relative humidity of 60 percent. Skies were fair. The track temperature was 90 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.

11:45 a.m. - GREEN. Round 1. Group 1.

Noon - CHECKERED. Advancing to Round 2 are: #9 Dixon, #77 Pagenaud, #28 Hunter-Reay, #18 Wilson, #7 Bourdais. #15 Sato, who bumps #67 Newgarden with his final lap of the session.

12:05 p.m. - GREEN. Round 1. Group 2.

12:20 p.m. - CHECKERED. Advancing to Round 2 are: #12 Power, #77 Tagliani, #38 Rahal, Viso, Castroneves, #2 Briscoe.


#27 Hinchcliffe fails to advance from Round 1 for the first time in 2012. He had qualified for Firestone Fast Six in every road/street race this season.

12:25 p.m. - GREEN. Round 2.

12:35 p.m. - CHECKERED. Advancing are: #12 Power, #9 Dixon, #77 Tagliani, #77 Pagenaud, #5 Viso, #28 Hunter-Reay

12:45 p.m. - GREEN. Firestone Fast Six.

12:53 p.m. - #9 Dixon sets fastest lap then Briscoe 1:10.3162

12:55 p.m. - CHECKERED FLAG. #12 Power comes up .0044 of a second short of the time set by #9 Dixon, who wins the pole.


SCOTT DIXON - Target Chip Ganassi Racing - POLE

• Second pole for Scott at Belle Isle. Scott started from the pole at Belle Isle in 2008

• Best start of third this season (Barber & Sao Paulo)

• 18th Career Pole


• Third front row start of the season.

• Started 12th in his only previous race in Belle Isle in 2008

ALEX TAGLIANI - Bryan Herta Autosport - THIRD

• First appearance in the Firestone Fast Six this season and his best start of the 2012 season.

• This is also the best start for Alex in four starts at Belle. His previous best start at the track was 14th here in 2000.

• This is the best career start for Bryan Herta Autosport in the IZOD IndyCar Series. The team's previous best start was 6ht at Indianapolis in 2011.

SIMON PAGENAUD - Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports - FOURTH

• First start in an Indycar at Belle Isle

• Finished third in 2008 ALMS race at the track

E.J. VISO - KV Racing Technology - FIFTH

• Best start of the 2012 season, Previous best start was 7th at Barber

• E.J. has one pervious start at Belle Isle, where he started 9th

RYAN HUNTER-REAY - Andretti Autosport - SIXTH

• Four top-six starts this season


SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "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."

DARIO FRANCHITI (No. 10 Unilever Honda): "We didn't really have the session we wanted. We kept getting behind Ed Carpenter and even on his slower laps he was getting in our way. I think if you're going that slow you should be looking in your mirrors. It's tough to find a gap as it is but that just ruined our session. We have a good Suave car and the guys made some great changes this morning so I hope we get to show it tomorrow."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): It's just a full-on attack. The car was loose in the last segment, the Fast Six, but man, yeah it was just absolute—I don't think there's anywhere you push so hard because you just keep going faster the harder you push, and they kept saying 'P2, P2!' [On if he's taking a conservative approach here to protect his championship lead] It's that balance. If you don't take a risk, you take a risk with the guy that you're fighting in the championship. You go out every weekend to win, so if you know you've got a 50-50 move on, you usually don't go for it. You've just got to be smart, see how things play out. I just race the way I race, which is to win, so that means not trying to do anything stupid.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet): ""We had a pretty good day. It's the first time we are where we are, so we're pretty happy with that. We made it to the fast 12, and then it was neck and neck with a lot of guys and a lot of good cars. To make it to the Firestone Fast Six, basically you were in or you were out. I think we've got to be pretty happy with that. It's a big step forward for us. There's work to do, there is room for improvement, but everybody is pretty happy about the new package and the new relationship with Chevrolet."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Honda): "The day didn't quite go as we would have liked it to have gone. We advanced to the Firestone Fast 12, but we just didn't have good enough grip with the tires to make it to the Fast Six. I got held up by a couple of drivers, but that really didn't make much of difference in the outcome. We start the race in P11 and hopefully my No. 18 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Honda can move up through the field like we did last weekend in Indy and get another Top 10 finish. I know the Dale Coyne Racing team will do everything possible to give me a great car for the race tomorrow."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "I think there's a cold going around, and our whole team's got it. We didn't quite have the pace for today but it doesn't mean we won't have it tomorrow. We've made a lot of progress since the first practice session. We kept getting closer and closer after starting off pretty far away. I'm disappointed because I should have gotten more out of the car. I don't think we had a Pole car. We should have transferred out of the first group though and been fighting and trying to improve the car. I think we had a good enough set-up to do that. It's just disappointing when you don't maximize your potential. We've got hard workers here at SFHR though so we'll keep our heads down and see what we can do tomorrow in the big show."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "That was pretty frustrating today. In the morning session, we had a braking issue and didn't get many laps. Then the car just wasn't what we needed in qualifying. I was almost spinning out at several corners. We'll have to go through everything and get a better direction with the car for the race. I thought we would be better coming here after the Brazil race, but it just hasn't been a good weekend so far. We need to keep our heads down and keep working hard right now."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): "Overall, I felt qualifying went really well for us. We were quick, we were competitive and we barely missed out on the fast six. Which, of course, is a disappointment but I certainly don't really feel like I got all of it out of the car. I just got caught up a little bit in the traffic, and others did as well, but I'm proud of the guys and the team for sticking with it. At the end of the day, we're right there, we're very close. We'll be at it tomorrow and hopefully be able to pick up some spots and move forward."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "I was a little disappointed in the result. I think with the speed in the car, and the speed in me, we were better than we showed. We were really close to being two or three spots up and that's two or three rows further up on the grid for tomorrow. I know that the whole Novo Nordisk team will do a good job both on strategy and giving me the right tires at the right time so I can move up. I think there is every opportunity with the way this track is and the character of the race tomorrow that we can have a good result and hopefully end up back in the top 10."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): I think [my success this year] has been a nice surprise to me as well and the team. The car is running really well, I enjoy driving it, and we made it suit my driving style straight away. So it puts us in good position, we've been consistent, but the main thing is that my engineer Ben Bretzman has been with me for several years, and we came together in IndyCar with Sam Schmidt/Hamilton, so there's a good combination with good chemistry. The whole group works really well together. Sam has been working really hard to get the right people in the right place, and we have some really good elements.

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "The National Guard Chevy is really good actually, I just totally screwed up. You know coming to a place like this that you've got to be able to put the lap time down in the first couple laps before the tires start going off. I was pushing really hard on the second timed lap, because that's when I really thought the lap time was going to come, and I got into the tire wall. It was the third corner onthat lap and we were already way up to that point, and the car definitely had the speed in it (to advance). It's frustrating for the guys, cause they've done a really good job getting the car ready and putting us in a position to do well. Tomorrow's about getting on the right strategy and being smart with where we're starting in the race because we've got an opportunity to make up some spots, we've just got to be able to be there in the end."

E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO-PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "Qualifying went pretty good. I'm pretty pleased with the fifth position, especially after some discrepancies we had yesterday in setting up the car. Apparently, things are now headed in the right direction. This category is extremely competitive and tight and just by starting in the first three rows in a race like this one, when it's difficult to overtake, it's a very good thing.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "We have been struggling since yesterday with the back end of the car. It's frustrating because we still don't really no the problem so we can't find a solution. It's a shame because I really like this track and have been able to learn it quite quickly. I hope tomorrow we can have a good race."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 GEICO/Mouser Electronics - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "We made a change on my car before qualifying which didn't work. It's unfortunate because we were fast in our practice sessions. The race is normally always exciting so I will look forward to that tomorrow and hope I can bring the team a good result."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): "Coming out after this morning's practice session and being third I thought that we were going to make some changes for qualifying. I thought we'd take that next step…… we'd been kind of hovering around fourth, fifth and sixth, so that's a little disappointing. We'd certainly like to be up there fighting for the pole with these guys, but sixth is not bad. You can start from there and get to our race. Certainly this place is busy as these guys have said and the better your car is on a long stint I think we'll see that's the most important bit about tomorrow. Hopefully we'll get there. We're just a little bit disappointed today in qualifying."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "It was a difficult day. We did make some progress on the car balance from yesterday in the morning practice session but we were no where near where we wanted to be on the time sheets. We made some changes and the car behaved better with the alternate Firestone tire and I was able to commit more in qualifying. There is still a lot of work to do but we should be pleased considering it was our best qualifying of the year and we made it to Round 2. We will go through the data and continue to try to improve the car for the race tomorrow. It is difficult to overtake on this track but we will work hard to improve our position with good strategy. It is so easy to lose control of your car here that you need to maintain good concentration."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "We struggled since this morning and we didn't really get the ABC Supply car much better. The car's a real handful so we have a lot of work to do tonight to figure it out. I think it's going to be a race of attrition tomorrow so we have to get it as best we can."

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): "I think we have a pretty good race car. We missed pretty much the whole session yesterday, so we're still playing catch up a little bit, but I think we started off really well. I think Gerald (Tyler) did an awesome job giving me a pretty good car. We're still just fighting the engine. We're trying a lot of things driving wise to kind of compromise right now, so we'll see. Hopefully we'll get more power for the next road course. But, I'm pretty happy with this run; I think it's one of the most Hail Mary laps I've done. It was really good."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "I'm really sorry. I put the team behind the eight ball by crashing this morning on the first lap. A, it didn't give me time to get into the rhythm of how the track was changing and we couldn't try setup changes that we wanted to. We went out guessing on how the track was going to be and the engineers guessing how the car was going to be and it wasn't enough. We needed a couple of more laps. That's what happens when you make a mistake in such a competitive field. It's hard to get back. The Mecum Auctions car was great since we started and I'm sure we will move to the front tomorrow."

JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "It was a tough day for the Boy Scouts of America team. We did pretty well in the morning practice session running P15, but things just didn't go our way in qualifying. All we can do now is regroup and get the car ready for the race tomorrow. I know that the team will give me a good car. There is nowhere to go, but up from here."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Team Barracuda - BHA Honda): "Yesterday we had a pretty slow start, we had some issues with the gear box, so sometimes when you start weekend and you lose the day it's really hard to recover, but today right away from the get-go this morning the car was a bit better and we made some improvements, and we got it spot-on for qualifying. For our first street course back with Honda, we're very pleased. It was a lot of work in the last couple of weeks from the whole team to get us back into the competition, and so we're very, very pleased with the boys and all their dedication over the weeks. For us just to be in the Fast Six on our first street course is quite good because there's more to come with our car."