Given that their main Verizon IndyCar Series rivals Andretti Autosport, Team Penske and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports all managed to get at least one driver into the Indianapolis 500 Fast 9 pole shootout on Sunday, along with cars from small operators Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing - the latter of which even won pole position - there was a conspicuous lack of any Chip Ganassi Racing representation in the final round of qualifying for the second year in a row.

The best of the Ganassi field was Scott Dixon who managed to put the #9 car into 11th place on the grid. Last year's Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan was the rest of the rest of Ganassi's five-car line-up but could only manage 16th place on the grid for next Sunday's race.

"It was a big improvement from where we were yesterday and I'm happy with our result today," said Dixon of his own final standing, hinting that he may have been able to be further forward if the qualifying format hadn't locked him out of the top nine at the end of Saturday's running.

"The car was really smooth to drive and I think we could have been faster if I hadn't had to deal with a bit of a crosswind on my run," he said. "Overall, a better day than yesterday.

"We still have another practice session tomorrow under the new format next week so we're going to keep working hard to keep the Target cars going in the right direction."

Kanaan was also upbeat about his prospects despite his midfield starting position on the grid.

"Like I always say, it's not where you start here at Indianapolis," he pointed out. " I started from 12th last year and was a contender and won here, so anything is possible.

"The whole Target Chip Ganassi Racing team did a great job today," he added. "They stayed late last night and put the time in to pick us up some more speed today. It was a total team effort today."

But team boss Chip Ganassi will not be happy to see his other three entries starting next week's race well down the starting grid, with Charlie Kimball in 26th place a row ahead of the underperforming Ryan Briscoe who could only manage 30th place, one spot ahead of rookie Sage Karam in Ganassi's co-entry with Dreyer and Reinbold-Kingdom Racing.

"We're a little disappointed in the speed we saw today with the #83," Kimball admitted. "I think we got some good data that we can use to our advantage for next year's qualifications."

"But I still have full confidence in my race-day car that my team has given me," he continued. "I'm still very confident in what we can do at the Indianapolis 500 with full tanks. Last year I started towards the back of the pack here and spotted the field 100 miles and I still ended up with a top ten finish.

"I was really hoping for more speed today out of the #8," contributed Briscoe. "But it just didn't happen. I think we got a little greedy with the downforce and I was sliding all over the place out there. It is what it is.

"I'm optimistic for Sunday," he insisted. "I've felt all week of practice that I have a great race car, so we'll just get to work switching the car back to race-day setup tonight and get out there and do some work tomorrow during practice."

As for Sage Karam, things definitely didn't go according to plan for the 2013 Indy Lights champion, who had ended Saturday with a provisional 21st place on the grid only to slump to the back row on Pole Day.

"We went slower than we did yesterday and everyone else was going faster, so it was definitely a frustrating run," said the 19-year-old who is competing in his first Indy 500 this year.

"We didn't go out this morning for the warm up, and I think that might have contributed to it," he mused. "I didn't have the time to feel the track out, and I think we missed on the set up a bit, but the team has diagnosed the problem and corrected it so we're ready to go for tomorrow's practice.

"I think we had a better race car than we do a qualifying car anyway, so I'm really looking forward to the race next Sunday," he added. "You can win this race from any position really, and that's the beauty of the event. Everyone is so close on speed, so you know it's going to be a really good race."

The Ganassi squad are certainly pinning their hopes on having better race form than qualifying speed, but there's a concern that history might be repeating itself. Last year Dixon was again the fastest of the Ganassi contingent but was down in 16th place; but he made up only two spots in the race itself and finished behind Kimball and Briscoe, with Kimball the only member of the squad to climb into the top ten by the chequered flag.

Ganassi will undoubtedly be hoping that this year doesn't yield similar lacklustre results for the powerhouse team, and that the hopes that they can find more speed in race trim really do materialise in 2014 so that they can recapture the glory days of 2012 when the now-retired Dario Franchitti claimed his third Indy 500 victory for the squad.


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