La Gaceta De Mexico - Kiwi Dixon seeks second Indy 500 triumph from the pole

Kiwi Dixon seeks second Indy 500 triumph from the pole
Kiwi Dixon seeks second Indy 500 triumph from the pole / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

Kiwi Dixon seeks second Indy 500 triumph from the pole

New Zealand's Scott Dixon chases his second Indianapolis 500 victory as he starts from the pole position for the fifth time in Sunday's 106th edition of the US oval classic.

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Dixon, who won from the pole in the 2008 Indy 500, set a pole record four-lap qualifying average of 234.046 mph to claim the inside front row spot for the fourth time in eight years.

Since taking the checkered flag at the 2.5-mile (4km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, Dixon has had six top-five finishes at the "Brickyard" but has yet to again taste the winner's traditional drink of milk in Victory Lane.

"A pole is fantastic, and it is a privilege, but everybody wants to win," Dixon said.

"On the team, everybody feels very good about this situation, but not as good as I felt when I won in 2008, so I want that feeling again."

The 41-year-old Kiwi racer, making his 20th Indy 500 start, has led 570 career laps and could break the all-time record of 644 held by four-time Indy winner Al Unser Sr.

Spaniard Alex Palou, last year's IndyCar season champion and Indy 500 runner-up, starts in the middle of row one beside Dixon, his teammate with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Palou was passed on last year's penultimate lap by Helio Castroneves as the Brazilian went on to win his fourth Indy 500 title, but that gave Palou a valuable lesson should he be leading late again at Indy.

"I did everything I knew how to do at that moment," Palou said. "It was my first time leading an oval race. It was not easy. But yeah, I learned a lot from that. Hopefully, we have the opportunity this year."

"I'm learning each day and I'm growing my experience, especially on ovals. I feel comfortable now. Hopefully my day here will come."

It will be the first 1-2 Indy start since 2008 for Ganassi, whose team has five cars in the 33-car field, all starting in the first four rows.

"The effort of the whole group pumps you up," said Dixon, a six-time IndyCar season champion. "Hopefully we're this happy come next Sunday as well and one of us is lucky enough to be drinking milk."

Among other Ganassi racers, Sweden's Marcus Ericsson will start in the middle of row two with Brazil's Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, on the outside of row two and former US stock car champion Jimmie Johnson on the outside of row four.

Ganassi seek their sixth Indy 500 triumph, and first since Scotsman Dario Franchitti's 2012 victory.

Castroneves will start on the outside of row nine as he tries to become the first five-time Indy 500 champion.

- Indy's fastest field -

The field is the fastest ever for an Indy 500 with an average speed of 231.023 mph and it features eight former winners and seven rookies, the most newcomers since 2014.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean, a 10-year veteran of Formula One, has the best starting spot among Indy 500 rookies on the outside of row three and was the fastest qualifier among Michael Andretti's five cars entered in the race.

Australian Will Power, the season series points leader, will start in the middle of row four.

Rinus VeeKay, a 21-year-old Dutchman who will start on the outside of row one for the second year in a row, could become the youngest winner in Indy 500 history, breaking the age mark of 22 years and 80 days set by American Troy Ruttman in 1952.

"Very proud to be in the front row again," VeeKay said.

Others who could break Ruttman's mark include 20-year-old American David Malukas, who starts on the inside of row five; 22-year-old American Colton Herta, who starts on the inside of row nine, and 20-year-old Danish racer Christiaan Lundgaard, who starts on the inside of the last row.