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Dixon keeps pole from Power at Detroit

2 June 2012

In a day of mixed fortunes for Ganassi, Scott Dixon gave the squad something to cheer about by stealing pole position for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix by just four thousandths of a second from Penske's Will Power as the chequered flag came out in qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

"I am really happy about starting up front because this is such a tough track and physically demanding on the drivers," said Dixon. "The track is bumpy and the best place to pass is on the straights, so staring up front is very important."

Power admitted that he could find nothing more to challenge Dixon with: "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!'"

Starting on the front row gives Power the opportunity to wrest the lead from Dixon at the first corner, but the Aussie insisted he was going to play smart come the green flag: "You've just got to be smart, see how things play out," said Power. "I just race the way I race, which is to win, so that means not trying to do anything stupid."

Dixon's best time was 1:10.316s (105.978mph) on the 2.07-mile, 14-turn street course in the final Firestone Fast Six round of qualifying that presented the striking sight of the drivers coming from six different teams: as well as Ganassi and Penske, there were also representatives from Bryan Herta Autosport, Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports, KV Racing Technology and Andretti Autosport filling out the front three rows.

"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," said Tagliani, whose BHA team only severed its relationship with Lotus just prior to the Indy 500. "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."

"The car is running really well, I enjoy driving it, and we made it suit my driving style straight away," said Pagenaud, who added that his impressive form right from the start of his rookie season in IndyCar had "been a nice surprise to me as well and the team."

"Qualifying went pretty good, I'm pretty pleased with the fifth position, especially after some discrepancies we had yesterday in setting up the car," beamed EJ Viso. "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."

That mix of different teams at the top meant that several big names had fallen by the wayside earlier on, with none bigger than newly crowned Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti who failed to progress from his round 1 group and will ow face the prospect of fighting his way through the field from a depressing 15th place on the starting grid.

"We didn't really have the session we wanted," admitted Franchitti, who was feeling somewhat poorly and had experienced a non-stop breakneck week with cross-country media appearances following the Indy 500 victory.

"We kept getting behind Ed Carpenter and even on his slower laps he was getting in our way," Franchitti explained. "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."

Franchitti will start just behind Sarah Fisher Harman Racing's Josef Newgarden, who admitted that he'd been feeling unwell and not at his best.

"I think there's a cold going around, and our whole team's got it," he said. "I'm disappointed because I should have gotten more out of the car. I don't think we had a Pole car, [but] we should have transferred out of the first group."

Also disappointed to exit qualifying early was James Hinchcliffe, who just a week ago was lining up second on the grid at Indianapolis but who this week lost his chance of progressing after brushing the wall with his left rear wheel on a flying lap that forced him back into the pits for a check over for suspension damage. Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand also failed to progress from his group after his own brush with the barriers in qualifying.

"I just totally screwed up," said Hildebrand. "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 tyre wall," he explained. "It was the third corner on that lap and we were already way up to that point, and the car definitely had the speed in it."

And Oriol Servia was another car to exit the session early, although in his case he'd rather expected it given that he lost most of the Saturday morning practice session after an accident wrecked the front right suspension of his car and the team had their work cut out just to get him out on track for the qualifying session at all.

"I'm really sorry. I put the team behind the eight ball by crashing this morning on the first lap," he admitted. "It didn't give me time to get into the rhythm of how the track was changing and we couldn't try set-up 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," he concluded.

Tony Kanaan was particularly frustrated not to progress from his own first round group, and blamed a wrong decision in set-up.

"We made a change on my car before qualifying which didn't work," he said. "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."

His team mate and best friend Rubens Barrichello had a quiet afternoon of it and never really looked likely to progress from round 1.

"We have been struggling since yesterday with the back end of the car," he revealed. "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."

The back of the grid will see Ed Carpenter and James Jakes joined by Marco Andretti, who simply didn't get a good run on Saturday. It will be a long fight back through the field on Sunday for them all.

That was pretty frustrating today," admitted Carpenter, who is much more of an oval racer at heart. "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 ... I thought we would be better coming here after the Brazil race, but it just hasn't been a good weekend so far."

"It was a tough day for the Boy Scouts of America team," added Jakes."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."


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